David Cicilline

Democrats still not working off same playbook on impeachment
Mixed messages abound about whether Judiciary is in an impeachment inquiry and where it’s headed

House Judiciary member David Ciccilline says Thursday’s resolution aims to identify what the Democrats are doing and will give “some additional authority to the chairman and to counsel.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are struggling to speak with one voice about impeachment, as members returned to Washington this week with mixed messages about whether the Judiciary Committee is already engaged in an impeachment inquiry and where that investigation is headed. 

Judiciary Democrats almost uniformly agree that their panel’s expanding investigation into President Donald Trump’s alleged crimes and abuse of power is an impeachment inquiry. Any disagreement about that definition that may exist among those two dozen members will likely be brought to light Thursday as the committee marks up a resolution defining procedures for its investigation.

House Judiciary panel to dive into gun debate upon return
Background checks, assault weapons ban, ‘red flag’ laws and more could be on the table

People hold candles at the end of the prayer vigil in Odessa, Texas, for victims of a mass shooting there Saturday in which seven people were killed. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

The House Judiciary Committee will meet next week to jump-start legislation addressing firearm ownership, an issue that has languished before Congress for more than two decades but faces new urgency in the wake of recent mass shootings that rattled the country.

Supporters of the legislation have scrambled over the summer recess to cobble together support and advance various proposals before the political will withers after recent shootings in Gilroy, California; Dayton, Ohio; and El Paso, Texas. A rampage in the West Texas community of Odessa over Labor Day weekend added to the concern. House Democrats have struggled with how far to push in the face of a GOP-controlled Senate and White House.

First House Republican backs renewed assault weapons ban
Rep. Peter King has broken with party leadership on gun violence prevention measures before

New York GOP Rep. Peter King said he thinks his support of a ban on assault weapons could provide political cover to Republicans and Democrats in GOP-leaning districts that haven’t supported it. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

New York Rep. Peter King is the first Republican in Congress to back a renewed federal ban on assault rifles.

The development reflects calls for action on Capitol Hill after gunmen armed with assault weapons killed scores of people in California, Texas and Ohio in the span of a few days. 

Gun safety theatrics could come to Congress during Tuesday pro forma sessions
Neither House nor Senate expected to return any time soon

Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey says an immediate vote on his background checks bill would be “counterproductive.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:45 p.m. | Democratic lawmakers itching for action on gun safety legislation will get their first chances to make some noise on Tuesday.

That’s when the House and Senate are scheduled to begin holding pro forma sessions, with no legislative business expected in either chamber until a full week after Labor Day in September. However, there’s a long history of members of Congress using the brief moments when the floors of the two chambers open for business during the August recess to engage in a bit of theater.

Mueller shuns spotlight, but says probe didn’t ‘exonerate’ Trump
President has claimed investigation cleared him of obstruction of justice

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller leaves the witness table for a recess in the House Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election" on Wednesday, July 24, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On a day House Democrats hoped Robert S. Mueller III’s televised testimony Wednesday would animate the special counsel’s 448-page report for the nation, the star witness eschewed the leading role with a muted performance with few soundbites during the first of two back-to-back hearings.

Mueller’s answers were concise. He often said simply, “True,” or “I rely on the language of the report.” The 74-year-old gray-haired Marine veteran and former FBI director frequently didn’t speak into the mic.

Leaders likely to sidestep direct vote as House considers Al Green impeachment articles
Pelosi opposes measure, which members expect to be tabled or to be referred to Judiciary to dispense of it

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, is pushing for a vote as soon as possible on his articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House is likely to take up Rep. Al Green’s privileged impeachment resolution against President Donald Trump during a Wednesday evening vote series, two Democratic aides confirmed after the Texas Democrat told reporters the vote would occur then. 

Democratic leaders had not yet decided how to dispense with the measure as of midday Wednesday, but several members said they expect a motion to refer it to the Judiciary Committee or to table it rather than a direct vote.

Facebook cryptocurrency stirs worry and support in both parties
Top Democrat urges Fed and regulators to protect consumers and economy from Facebook’s ‘monopoly money’

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, right, was peppered with questions about how the Fed would deal with Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Facebook Inc. got a preview Wednesday of what to expect next week when executives come to testify about plans to launch Libra, a digital currency and online payment system.

At a hearing Wednesday morning, Democrats and Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee peppered Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell with questions about how the central bank would respond to Libra.

Editor's Note: Democrats on TV

Editor's Note: A July 11 story that described the number of times members of Congress have appeared on television in 2019 was incorrect and based on incomplete statistics.

The story relied on CQ’s Newsmaker transcripts from Jan. 3 through June 26, which include appearances on CNN, CNN International, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business, PBS NewsHour, cable news town halls and the Sunday morning talk shows. The transcripts do not include every TV appearance by members of Congress.

Democrats spar with State official over arms sales maneuver

Rep. David Cicilline accused a senior State Department official of gas-lighting Congress in his assertions about why the administration needed to subvert Congress on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior State Department official on Wednesday appeared to blame Democrats for the administration’s decision last month to declare a state of emergency over Iran to avoid congressional review of billions of dollars of weapon sales to Arab Gulf states.

R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs, attributed the emergency order to holds placed in spring 2018 by Senate Foreign Relations ranking member Robert Menendez on $2 billion in proposed precision-guided missile sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Menendez, D-N.J., placed the holds in response to the many civilian casualties in the Yemen civil war, in which the two Gulf nations are fighting against Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents.

Big Tech now squarely in the sights of antitrust forces
The effort could create a bipartisan political circus on privacy and disinformation

Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline, who chairs the House Judiciary’s antitrust subcommittee, announced the bipartisan investigation of Big Tech earlier this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bipartisan antitrust investigation of large technology companies announced by the House Judiciary Committee will offer lawmakers their latest opportunity to grill some of the industry’s most recognizable and controversial executives.

But it also could provide lawmakers a chance to hold accountable antitrust agencies and potentially to expand the scope of U.S. antitrust law in significant ways. Still, it remains unclear exactly what the committee can accomplish as it sets out.