Illinois

Trump campaign to deploy Cabinet secretaries, lawmakers, allies to Iowa
The effort creates potential ethical pitfalls for federal officials who face limits on political work

Ben Carson, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is going to Iowa to campaign for President Donald Trump. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump campaign says it will dispatch high-level government appointees to stump in Iowa ahead of the state’s Monday caucuses, setting up potential pitfalls for Cabinet secretaries and other officials bound by ethics restrictions on their politicking.

“This goes above and beyond anything I’ve ever seen when it comes to the White House deploying its resources on the campaign trail,” said Democratic consultant Jim Manley, once an aide to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Personal stories on display on anniversary of ‘Muslim travel ban’

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., departs from a news conference Tuesday. On Monday Durbin and other Democrats held a press conference to advocate for the NO BAN Act. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

On the third anniversary of President Donald Trump’s “Muslim travel ban,” Democrats brought advocates to speak in support of a bill that would limit his ability to restrict travel from some Muslim countries. 

The legislation introduced in the House is called the NO BAN Act and is supported by senators including Democratic Sens. Richard J. Durbin, of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal, of Connecticut. Monday’s event gave individuals affected by the travel ban an opportunity to share their stories and how it impacts their communities.

View from the gallery: Hardly enough time to fidget
Rare Senate weekend session only lasts two hours

Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander arrives at the Capitol on Saturday for the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s a Saturday, but nearly all the senators were in their workday suits and ties. The Kentucky delegation was one exception, with both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul wearing khakis and blazers.

This was the fifth straight day in the Senate chamber of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, and the 100 senators appeared for just two hours during a brief and rare weekend session when President Donald Trump’s team started its opening presentation.

Impeachment trial’s Saturday session is a short one
In first day of Trump defense team presentation, an eye on the clock

White House counsel Pat Cipollone, left, and lawyer Jordan Sekulow arrive at the Capitol on Saturday before the continuation of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s lawyers briefly laid out his defense Saturday at the Senate impeachment trial, focusing their attacks on what they called a lack of evidence, the actions of lead House manager Adam B. Schiff and a flawed House investigation.

Trump’s legal team did not make arguments about former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter Biden. Trump and some Republican senators have focused on that issue for the president’s defense that his Ukraine dealings were meant to uncover corruption, not ask the country’s president to influence the 2020 presidential elections in exchange for releasing military aid.

US ready for potential coronavirus outbreak, CDC assures lawmakers
CDC officials said they currently have the resources needed to address the spread of the virus

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., departs from a news conference on Tuesday. He told reporters Friday that federal health officials had positive things to say about China’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Federal health officials told lawmakers Friday that they have the resources they need to address the spread of the virus originating from Wuhan, China, although senators acknowledged the potential need for supplemental funding down the road.

The briefing for roughly two dozen senators came as the case count for the new version of coronavirus in China was rapidly increasing, prompting authorities there to effectively quarantine tens of millions of people in Wuhan and surrounding cities. China’s National Health Commission reported 571 cases and 17 deaths as of Thursday, though news reports on Friday said there were now more than 800 cases and at least 26 deaths.

Green card gridlock: When will Congress agree on a solution?
The waiting lists for residency status grow ... and grow.

Hundreds of thousands of people may find themselves waiting for decades in green card limbo. (CQ Roll Call)

On Dec. 18, immigration reform stalwart Richard J. Durbin’s announcement on the Senate floor about a rare bipartisan breakthrough flew largely under the radar, overshadowed in the chaotic flurry of impeachment. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah had dueled two months earlier over unanimous consent requests on the Senate floor, and had since been deadlocked.

Each had pushed for his own solution to an important but often overlooked symptom of the broken U.S. immigration system: the employment-based green card backlog. Because of it, hundreds of thousands of people — overwhelmingly from India — wait in limbo, sometimes for decades.

At the Races: Trial vs. Trail

By Simone Pathé, Stephanie Akin and Bridget Bowman 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Impeachment cellphone ban gives Senate pages a workout
Teens stay busy relaying messages, fetching water, even pouring glasses of milk

Senate pages are getting in their steps this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Trump’s impeachment trial may be requiring senators to stay seated hour after agonizing hour, but there’s one group getting lots of exercise: Senate pages.

The blue-jacket-clad teens have been running all over the Senate floor, relaying messages between senators and staff, fetching water and even pouring the occasional glass of milk.

It’s still difficult to see Trump losing Iowa in November
He may not get as big a win as 2016, but he remains the favorite

A Pizza Ranch restaurant with a pro-Trump sign in Winterset, Iowa, in January 2016.  Donald Trump went on to win Iowa in the general election, beating Hillary Clinton by more than 9 points. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Iowa gave Barack Obama a resounding 9.5-point victory over John McCain in 2008. Four years later, Obama’s margin shrunk to 5.8 points against Mitt Romney. But in 2016, something odd happened.

Donald Trump carried Iowa by 9.4 points — a dramatic change in the state’s recent voting behavior and close to the same winning margin as Obama’s eight years earlier.

View from the gallery: Senators struggle to sit in silence at Trump trial
Senators-turned-jurors sneak in snacks, lunge for phones during rare breaks to weigh in on arguments

Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, arrive at the Capitol on Tuesday for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Lindsey Graham looked restless during the first hour of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, when none of the senators had access to their cellphones and the president’s lawyers and the House managers traded procedural arguments.

It was an unusual first day of buttoned-down decorum for the exclusive club of 100 senators-turned-jurors, who were made to stay in their floor seats, not eat, not talk and not tweet during only the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history.