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View from the gallery: Senators seek comfort and novelty during Trump trial
Senators decamp to cloakrooms, bring blankets, and sip on milk and water

Republican Sens. James M. Inhofe and Lamar Alexander enter the Senate chamber before the start of the impeachment trial in the Senate on Jan. 22. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton was among the first senators spotted ordering milk to the Senate chamber for President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial Wednesday, and he took small sips to wash down what looked like a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

This was the second day of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators began to search in earnest for comfort and novelty during eight hours of opening statements from House managers.

Senate passes USMCA bill, giving Trump a win on trade
The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump’s signature

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, checks his watch while waiting for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to wrap up a press conference in the Senate Radio/TV studio on Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020. Sen. Risch along with Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, were waiting to hold a press conference on USMCA, which passed the Senate Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate approved implementing legislation Thursday for a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, giving President Donald Trump a victory as the Senate moved to swearing in its members as jurors in Trump’s impeachment trial.

The Senate voted 89-10 to clear the bill for Trump's signature, with several dissenting Democrats citing the absence of climate change provisions as a lost opportunity to address the issue on an international scale since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the deal, watched the vote from the public gallery.

Senate sets first ground rules for impeachment trial
McConnell, Schumer announced restrictions to staff and visitors

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have detailed restrictions in Senate operations during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Corrected, Thursday, 8:32 p.m. | Senators and their staffs will be subject to new access restrictions and decorum practices in and around the Senate chamber starting Thursday morning, thanks to the imminent impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

Access to the Senate wing will be more limited than usual as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

Success of tobacco age change will depend on state efforts
E-cigarette popularity adds complication to drive to address youth tobacco use

Some states that already had “tobacco 21” laws in place saw drops in cigarette smoking rates among young people, but e-cigarette use increased. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images file photo)

The legal age for cigarettes, nicotine vaping products and other tobacco is now 21 across the country after Congress changed the age last month — but progress in reducing youth vaping will depend on states to ensure that underage sales are halted. 

While many states and localities adopted laws to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 in recent years, it’s unclear how effective they’ve been so far. Experts caution that raising the age nationally won’t be the only thing needed to address the high youth tobacco use rate ushered in by the popularity of e-cigarettes.

Census effort gets $7.6 billion funding, ‘friended’ by Facebook
Spending bill passed on same day Facebook pledges to remove false census posts, ads

Facebook announced it would remove misleading 2020 census information from its platform. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Census Bureau got a slew of new tools Thursday in preparation for next year’s census count, making congressional allies and advocates cautiously optimistic about the effort. 

The same day Congress sent the White House a sweeping spending package that includes $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau, Facebook announced it would remove incorrect or misleading census information from its platform next year. The social media giant’s announcement follows steps by Google and the Census Bureau itself to keep online outreach efforts on track for the 2020 count.

Meet the Democrats who broke with their party on impeachment
Three Democrats voted against at least one article, but one might soon be a Republican

Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson opposed both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two House Democrats opposed both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump on Wednesday, while one split his vote on the two articles. A fourth voted “present.”

All three Democrats — one powerful committee chairman and two freshmen — represent districts Trump carried in 2016, but their votes put them at odds with the 28 other Democrats in Trump districts, all of whom voted for both articles of impeachment.

Think big, be humble and remember to serve coffee
Rep. Case recalls lessons from original Aloha State representatives

Hawaii Rep. Ed Case spent time as a House intern and staffer in the House and Senate before coming to Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Hawaii Rep. Ed Case relays a Grateful Dead lyric to describe his journey to Congress: “What a long strange trip it’s been.”

Case says his experiences as an intern and staffer in the House and Senate with his former boss, Spark M. Matsunaga, brought him from pondering his post-college plans to charting a course to Capitol Hill. Back in Congress after 12 years, he now holds the same Honolulu-area seat as Matsunaga did before he was elected to the Senate. (Case previously represented the 2nd District, which encompasses most of Oahu that is not Honolulu and the other islands.)

James Lankford to chair Senate Ethics Committee
Oklahoma Republican will take over for Johnny Isakson, who is resigning at the end of the year

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., will lead the ethics panel. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. James Lankford will take over as chairman of the Ethics Committee, succeeding Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, who will retire at the end of the year, according to a senior Republican aide.

The Oklahoma Republican will lead a six-member, bipartisan committee charged with investigating violations of Senate rules. The committee’s most recent actions were in April 2018, when it published a public letter of admonition to Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

Duncan Hunter and the case of rabbit flights, NFL Red Zone, HBO and more
Office of Congressional Ethics details soon-to-be-former member’s use of campaign money

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., left, spent campaign money on a wide range of personal endeavors. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

An Office of Congressional Ethics report released Monday shows in detail how Duncan Hunter’s campaign committee spent money on a range of personal expenses, including flights for a pet bunny rabbit, NFL Red Zone, Jack in the Box, Starbucks and family trips to Italy and Hawaii.

The OCE report was released by the House Ethics Committee, a panel that will lose its jurisdiction over Hunter when the California Republican resigns after the holidays. Hunter, who represents the 50th Congressional District of California, pleaded guilty last week to campaign finance fraud and subsequently announced his impending resignation.

Duncan Hunter to resign from Congress after holidays
California Republican’s decision comes days after pleading guilty to using campaign funds for personal purposes

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., is resigning from Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter said Friday he will resign from Congress after the coming holidays, just days after pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud. 

“Shortly after the Holidays I will resign from Congress. It has been an honor to serve the people of California’s 50th District, and I greatly appreciate the trust they have put in me over these last 11 years,” he said in a statement.