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Sources: Repealing health care taxes in play on spending deal
Tax talks appear to have picked up steam over the weekend

Sen. Charles E. Grassley tweeted over the weekend his concern that top Democrats might be cooking up a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would be "detrimental to farmers." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders were discussing a permanent repeal of three major health care taxes — on medical devices, health insurers and high-cost “Cadillac” insurance plans — as part of the final appropriations measures advancing this week, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The tentative development follows some skepticism about whether leaders would even be able to agree to attach an extension of expiring tax cuts and other tax policy changes to the package — and little expectation that the costly taxes would be repealed altogether.

Impeachment costing Democrats a House member as Van Drew plans party switch
New Jersey freshman met with Trump and plans to vote against impeachment next week

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, who cast one of two Democratic votes against launching an impeachment investigation and plans to vote against it again next week, was telling staff he would jump to the Republican Party after meeting with President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, whose election to a GOP-held district last fall helped Democrats flip the House, plans to switch parties after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on Friday, according to multiple Garden State sources.

Members of his party were already wishing him good riddance.

Campus notebook: Which impeachment lawyer makes more?
PCP arrest by the Capitol complex and Sen. David Perdue buys a lot of CBS, FedEx and Urban Outfitters stock

Daniel Goldman, majority counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, and Steve Castor, minority counsel, prepare to testify during the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment inquiry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Two lawyers with prominent roles in the House impeachment inquiry — Stephen Castor, the Republican general counsel for the Oversight Committee, and Daniel Goldman, a senior adviser for the Intelligence Committee Democrats — testified alongside one another Monday. One difference between the two, besides the parties they represent on their respective panels, is their salaries.

According to payroll records from August, Castor makes an annual salary of $165,000—that’s $3,000 more than Goldman makes.

Justices decide to wade into separation-of-powers showdown
The issue lands there just as the House prepares a floor vote on articles of impeachment

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to weigh in on a separation-of-powers showdown between Congress and Trump over whether Congress can obtain his financial and tax records. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court on Friday stepped into the political and legal fight over whether Congress can obtain President Donald Trump’s financial and tax records.

The justices agreed to decide two cases in the first separation-of-powers showdown between Congress and Trump to reach the high court. The issue lands there just as the House prepares a floor vote on articles of impeachment.

Curbing unexpected medical bills has bipartisan backing in Congress
CQ on Congress, Ep. 179

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 18: The U.S. Capitol building as seen from the Senate side on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Many Americans have been to the hospital in an emergency, or for a procedure, only to get a huge bill after because a doctor treating them doesn’t take their insurance. Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on legislation to ban so-called surprise billing. CQ Roll Call reporter Mary Ellen McIntire joins the podcast to explain the likely outcome of this bill. Claire McAndrew, Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at FamiliesUSA, which advocates for health care consumers, also joins the show.

‘Yule’ get fewer calories with ‘impeachment lite’ — Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of Dec. 9, 2019

Rep. Doug Collins speaks during the House Judiciary Committee markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers got in the yuletide spirit this week while the House Judiciary Committee debated articles of impeachment, which President Donald Trump dubbed “impeachment lite.”

“They’re getting ready to vote for their Christmas present,” Rep. Doug Collins said of House Democrats’ impeachment push. All that plus giant imitation sugar packets, cellphone interruptions and December’s obligatory “winter is coming” reference.

Analysis: Impeachment’s no ‘game changer’ and other pet peeves
News flash: Two things can be simultaneously true without being mutually exclusive

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, speaks during Thursday’s markup of the articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After weeks of public hearings, I’m ready to take a stand on impeachment. Well, not quite. Actually, there are more than a few pieces of the impeachment coverage, arguments, and narrative that are driving me crazy. And writing a few hundred words seems like a semi-healthy way to attempt to set the record straight.

Impeachment is not a game-changer until proven otherwise. I’m skeptical that impeachment will fundamentally alter the electoral landscape, in part, because it has not dramatically swayed voters’ opinions of the president so far. According to Friday’s RealClearPolitics average, President Donald Trump’s job approval rating was 44 percent compared to 54 percent disapprove. On Sept. 24, when Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the formal impeachment inquiry, it was 45 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove. Maybe something can be historic and politically insignificant at the same time.

Trump appears to back short Senate impeachment trial
‘I’ll do whatever they want to do,’ POTUS says when asked of McConnell’s desire for quick trial

Vote tally sheets sit at the clerk's table following the House Judiciary Committee's approval of articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the day the House Judiciary Committee approved impeachment articles against him, President Donald Trump claimed it is strengthening him politically. And with those articles headed to the House floor next week he appears warming to a quick election-year Senate trial.

In brief but animated remarks, the president defiantly declared of the shape and length of an expected Senate trial: “I’ll do whatever I want.”

War on Christmas (decorations) comes to Capitol Hill
The 'Cold War' is heating up

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., poses with the inflatable snowman outside his office on the second floor of the Longworth Senate Office Building on Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. A friendly holiday decorations rivalry with his hallway neighbor Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo. has evolved into a floor-wide contest. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Val B. Demings was overheard this week telling a reporter she felt “pressure” to step up her office’s holiday decorations after fellow Florida Rep. Charlie Crist displayed a quintessential light-up palm tree and flamingo outside his.

The 7.5-foot inflatable holiday Mickey Mouse (she represents the Orlando area, home to Disney World) that guards her door declined to comment on the matter — perhaps because he heard about the unfortunate fate of one of his nearby air-filled brethren.

Photos of the Week
The week of Dec. 13 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Top row from left, Reps. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, are seen as the House Judiciary Committee hears the House Intelligence Committee’s presentation on the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)