Wyoming

Conservationists: Interior ignores court order on sage grouse protection
Judge had ordered agency to use Obama-era rules that Trump tried to weaken to allow oil and gas drilling on sage grouse habitat

During the March to May mating season, sage grouse males display their bulging air sacs to attract mates. (Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images file photo)

The Interior Department is offering leases to drill for oil and gas in greater sage grouse habitat using a species conservation plan nullified by a federal court last month for being too weak, according to conservation advocates.

The agency is supposed to be adhering to an Oct. 16 order by a federal judge in Idaho who temporarily suspended the Bureau of Land Management’s latest sage grouse conservation plan, which removed protections for the species on millions of acres across the West. The ruling effectively put back into effect plans written under the Obama administration for protecting the bird from increased habitat destruction by wildfires and energy development. 

Diplomats testifying in impeachment inspire pride, worry
Positive reviews come with increased fears over safety and political retaliation

Fiona Hill, a former National Security Council senior director, and David Holmes, the counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, are sworn in before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Few other parts of the U.S. government under the Trump administration feel as undermined and besieged as the State Department.

The department’s funding has repeatedly come under attack in White House budget requests; the expertise of its diplomats and policy specialists has routinely been ignored in favor of the opinions of Trump loyalists with little foreign affairs experience.

Trump to host Turkey’s Erdogan same day public impeachment hearings start
Bipartisan calls to cancel visit ignored, as experts say Washington still needs Ankara

President Donald Trump welcomes President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey at the White House in 2017. The Turkish leader makes a controversial return Wednesday. (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be feted Wednesday at the White House despite his attacks on a longtime U.S. ally, his purchase of military equipment from Russia and calls from lawmakers in both parties to punish him.

President Donald Trump and top aides have ignored bipartisan calls to cancel Erdogan’s visit, which is expected to include a joint press conference on the same day public hearings in the House impeachment inquiry begin.

Impeachment news roundup: Nov. 6
Taylor transcript released, Schiff announces first public hearings, No. 3 State Department official testifying on ambassador’s ouster

President Donald Trump cited the testimony of former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, shown here arriving for his Oct. 3 deposition, as proof that House Democrats are conducting a “witch hunt.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democratic impeachment investigators Wednesday unsealed testimony of one of their potential star witnesses, William Taylor, who alleged some of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers sought a quid pro quo from Ukraine to advance the president’s political interests.

Taylor, the acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, told lawmakers at his deposition earlier this month that some top officials in the Trump administration, led from the outside by the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, pressured Ukraine to publicly announce anti-corruption investigations into the Bidens and other Democrats in exchange for the U.S. unfreezing $400 million in military aid.

The unglamorous job of federal budgeting
New budget reform legislation would help restore a broken process

Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi has joined with Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and other colleagues to introduce the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is no secret that a vast majority of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Too often our political debates are characterized by hyperpartisanship, rather than achieving meaningful outcomes for the American people. Nowhere is this problem more acute than when it comes to our inability to address our country’s unsustainable fiscal course.

Our current budget process is broken, as evidenced by mounting debt and deficits, a patchwork of temporary spending bills, government shutdowns, and budgets that, if passed at all, are quickly ignored. While process reforms alone won’t solve our fiscal challenges, we believe that realigning incentives, creating a more predictable budget pathway and encouraging active engagement in fiscal outcomes are steps in the right direction.

Road ahead: Impeachment to lead headlines, even with House away
Senate returns Tuesday to continue confirming judges

Impeachment will be making headlines at the Capitol, even with the House not in session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House is not in session this week, and yet there might still be more attention on that side of the Capitol, with House committees led by the Intelligence panel continuing work on the impeachment inquiry.

The committees are seeking testimony from three officials Monday, but it is not yet clear who, if any, will appear for their scheduled closed-door depositions.

White House, GOP allies shift to Clintonesque counterimpeachment message
‘Pelosi won’t bring those bills to the floor because she is infatuated with impeachment,’ WH spox says

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., talk as they arrive for a press conference at the Capitol on May 9. Cheney accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of having “neutered” the Intelligence Committee because of Democrats’ impeachment inquiry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The White House and its Republican allies on Thursday slightly shifted their counterimpeachment messaging to one that more closely resembles that of President Bill Clinton’s West Wing messaging during his own House investigation.

Former aides to the 42nd president have offered free advice to the Trump White House for several weeks, suggesting the 45th chief executive and his top administration aides focus on what President Donald Trump is still trying to accomplish to benefit Americans in their everyday lives.

Impeachment news roundup: Oct 30
More testimony about Giuliani’s involvement in Ukraine; Gaetz files ethics complain against Schiff

Catherine Croft, a State Department Ukraine specialist, arrives Wednesday for a closed-door deposition in the Capitol as part of the House's impeachment inquiry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A current State Department official and a former one are slated to testify Wednesday to provide more context and corroborate details from other witnesses about the Trump administration’s policy toward Ukraine, including ex-national security adviser John Bolton’s wariness of the president’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Catherine Croft, special adviser for Ukraine at the State Department and a former national security council expert on Ukraine, began her testimony around midday Wednesday, according to an official working on the impeachment inquiry. Christopher Anderson, an assistant to former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker and Croft's predecessor at State, is also expected to appear in closed session Wednesday.

Turkey sanctions bills likely to move despite ceasefire
Shaky ceasefire agreement halting Syrian Kurd attacks appears to not appease lawmakers, who may still vote to impose sanctions

This picture taken on October 18, 2019 from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa shows fire and smoke rising from the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces. The shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally. (OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

A shaky ceasefire agreement with Turkey to halt its attacks on the Syrian Kurds does not appear to have done much to slake lawmakers’ appetite for imposing sanctions on the longtime NATO ally.

President Donald Trump was quick to declare victory Thursday after Ankara agreed to a five-day ceasefire in its attacks on Kurds in northern Syria. Kurdish fighters are supposed to use that window, which the Turkish government is describing not as a ceasefire but as a “pause,” to withdraw to roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish border.

Rare, and unapologetic, bipartisan congressional rebuke for Trump on Syria
Mitch McConnell, Nancy Pelosi, Lindsey Graham, Liz Cheney all part with president

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s expressed his opposition to the president’s Syria policy in public and private. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

“I think Lindsey should focus on Judiciary,” President Donald Trump said Wednesday when asked about criticism from South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of his decision to effectively side with Turkey over the Kurdish population of Syria.

Graham, who is often an ally of the president, was comparing Trump’s move to pull back U.S. forces supporting the Kurds to the Obama administration policy of withdrawal from Iraq. The senator is chairman of both the Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the State Department.