2019

Congress saw more bills introduced in 2019 than it has in 40 years, but few passed
Partisan divide and Senate’s focus on confirmations among factors cited

The 116th Congress is on track to enact a lower percentage of bills than any in modern times. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It would stand to reason that representatives and senators, dissuaded by the gridlock in Congress, would hesitate to introduce legislation. After all, only 105 laws were enacted during 2019, a poor showing by historical standards.

But that’s not what happened last year. In fact, lawmakers are on a pace to introduce more bills and joint resolutions than they have since the 1970s, when Congresses routinely saw 20,000 or more introduced.

The top 10 Roll Call stories from 2019
Readers favored stories about Mueller, impeachment, AOC ... and weaponized ticks?

It was a busy news year in “the swamp,” including when a protester from Clean Water Action was seen wearing a Swamp Thing costume during the March confirmation hearing for David Bernhardt, nominee to be secretary of the Interior. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Some may argue that calling 2019 a busy year on Capitol Hill would be an understatement.

The 116th Congress was sworn in amid the longest government shutdown in history, featured hearings on a bombshell report by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, and ended with votes to impeach President Donald Trump and pass a spending package to keep the government running through next September.

2020 Senate and House outlook looks a lot like it did at the start of 2019
Dramatic news made minimal changes to political landscape

New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew’s party switch added one seat to the GOP’s side, but there’s still a long way to go for Republicans to win the majority, and history is not on their side. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More than a year into the election cycle and with less than a year to go, how much has the political landscape changed? The answer: not a lot. And that’s not particularly good news for Republicans.

Thus far, we know that a year’s worth of news (including impeachment) has not fundamentally altered the president’s standing. As 2019 came to a close, Donald Trump’s job rating stood at 44.5 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove, according to the RealClearPolitics national polling average. A year ago, the president’s standing was virtually the same. On Jan. 1, 2019, Trump’s job rating was 43 percent approve and 52 percent disapprove, according to RCP.

Capitol Ink | Best of 2019
The only constant in this wild year was unpredictability

Quid pro WHOA — what a year!

In January, Democrats took control of the House amid what would become the longest federal government shutdown in history. Springtime brought, besides cherry blossoms, special counsel Robert S. Mueller II’s release of his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election — and a blindsiding by his own boss, Attorney General William Barr.

Californians without health insurance will pay a penalty — or not
The Golden State will join four states and Washington, D.C., in requiring their residents to have health coverage and penalizing those without it.

(DigitalVision Vectors/Getty Images)

By Bernard J. Wolfson, Kaiser Health News

Californians, be warned: A new state law could make you liable for a hefty tax penalty if you do not have health insurance next year and beyond.

The year in Political Theater: Our favorite 2019 podcasts

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One has not quite lived until Werner Herzog tells you on your own podcast: “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no ... You are wrong.” Lesson learned: Don’t argue with headstrong German filmmakers about 19th Century Russian poets. 

That was just one of the many highlights of 2019’s Political Theater podcast. Of course we also examined the world of politics, what it means to be a member of Congress, the effect of President Donald Trump on the journalism, and the advice a respected and garrulous former member of Congress for the newly elected.

Rep. Greg Pence calls House impeachment vote ‘Bulls--- to the fourth degree’
TMZ caught a couple of members on the Hill Thursday

Indiana Rep. Greg Pence calls House impeachment vote “bulls--- to the fourth degree” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

“Bullsh-- to the fourth degree”: That’s what Rep. Greg Pence had to say Thursday morning as TMZ not-so-pleasantly surprised the congressman and asked him his thoughts on the House vote to impeach President Donald Trump just the night before.

The vice president’s brother was entering what appeared to be the Cannon Office Building along with Rep. Michael Waltz, who seems to have slipped away from the scene unscathed.

Trump announces Jeff Van Drew will become a Republican
Van Drew, as a Democrat, voted against impeaching the president Wednesday night

Rep. Jeff Van Drew is seen in the Capitol during procedural votes related to the articles of impeachment on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that New Jersey Democratic Rep. Jeff Van Drew is, as expected, switching parties. 

“Jeff will be joining the Republican Party,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office, with the freshman congressman by his side.

Picture perfect: CQ Roll Call photographers explain their favorite images of 2019
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 105

Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, smiles as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., walks by at the Ohio Clock Corridor in the Capitol on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

From Jon Stewart’s smirk to an Elizabeth Warren scrum at the Iowa State Fair to the frenzy surrounding former presidential aide Hope Hicks, CQ Roll Call photographers Tom Williams, Bill Clark and Caroline Brehman are crashing this episode of Political Theater to explain their favorite images of 2019, how they got them and what goes into getting the shot they need.

It’s not entirely fair — seeing as how they take about 100,000 images during the year and have to whittle that down to about 10,000 that they file for editorial use — to ask them to pick just one.

Photos of the day: House readies for historic impeachment vote against Trump
Dec. 18 as captured by CQ Roll Call's photojournalism staff

The public lines up in the Capitol Visitor Center to watch the House vote on the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:16 p.m. | On a crisp, cold Dec. 18 in Washington, the House is preparing for a historic vote on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. 

CQ Roll Call’s photojournalists are capturing the events of the day on and around Capitol Hill. Check back for updates.