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J. Brett Blanton on track to become next Architect of the Capitol
Nominee was most recently deputy vice president for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

J. Brett Blanton, nominee to be Architect of the Capitol, right, introduces his family to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., before the start of his confirmation hearing on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Most of J. Brett Blanton’s nomination hearing before the Senate Rules Committee to be the next Architect of the Capitol on Thursday was essentially a one-on-one public interview between him and Chairman Roy Blunt, as the remaining 18 members of the committee were absent for the majority of the hearing.

No opposition to Blanton, a Virginia resident, is evident, making him likely to be confirmed as the 12th Architect of the Capitol. If confirmed, Blanton said he expects to start leading the agency by mid-January.

Democratic Tri-Caucus to track diversity of witnesses in House hearings
Initiative would have committees send witnesses diversity surveys

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, is one of the leaders of the Tri-Caucus, along with Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., and Congressional Asian Pacific Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Callfile photo)

The chairs of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus announced Thursday that starting in January 2020 they will track the diversity of witnesses testifying in House committee hearings. 

Collectively known as the Tri-Caucus, the groups want to ensure diversity of witnesses that help inform policies and legislation to ensure the laws Congress passes are “inclusive and work for Americans of all backgrounds.”

After months of delay, DeVos touts limited student loan forgiveness plan
House Democrats press Trump's education chief over relief for defrauded students

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the Capitol in July, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sought to defend her department’s 18-month delay in processing rising numbers of student loan forgiveness claims, saying at a Thursday hearing that officials lacked a proper process to review them.

Roughly 240,000 claims remain outstanding as DeVos has sought to change the department’s process to allow students who have been defrauded by colleges to have their federal student loans canceled.

House Judiciary poised to approve Trump impeachment articles Thursday
Expected approval amid partisan fighting lines up a contentious House floor vote next week

Ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., leans back in his chair during the House Judiciary Committee markup of impeachment articles against President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats marched forward Thursday toward the impeachment of President Donald Trump, beating back Republican stall tactics and efforts to amend the two articles of impeachment under consideration by the House Judiciary Committee.

The opening of the second day of the historic proceedings was punctuated by Republican efforts to call fact witnesses before the panel considered the impeachment articles.

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.

Livestream: Articles of impeachment markup

The House Judiciary Committee meets to debate the language in articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. Opening statements of the markup began Wednesday night.

Impeachment news roundup: Dec. 12
Pelosi defends Democrats’ approach to impeachment

House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., left, and ranking member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., interrupt one another during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on the impeachment articles against President Trump on Thursday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

As the House Judiciary Committee debated the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday again declined to explain to reporters why certain charges were left out of the articles.

On Tuesday she was dismissive when asked why Democrats did not include obstruction of justice as outlined in the special counsel report on its investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Trump’s campaign. During her weekly news conference on Thursday, it was the exclusion of bribery she didn’t want to explain.

Ways and Means offers its own plan on surprise medical bills
New proposal could complicate efforts to enact a rival bill before year’s end

Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and ranking member Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said the committee would take up the proposal early next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

These Democrats helped launch the impeachment inquiry. What’s their next move?
Pelosi called for probe after op-ed by seven freshmen with national security backgrounds

From left, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Chrissy Houlahan and Elissa Slotkin face Mikie Sherrill at a meeting in September. The four among a group of freshman Democrats who called for an impeachment inquiry that month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two months ago, seven freshman Democrats in the House published an op-ed column in The Washington Post that helped launch the impeachment inquiry. Now that the inquiry’s over, the freshmen are not saying what they will do next.

The op-ed made clear the writers, who all have national security backgrounds, thought it would be “an impeachable offense” if reports were true that President Donald Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival while withholding aid to the country.

Amid impeachment saga, a kitchen sink of legislative dealing
Sen. Alexander: ‘There’s more to life than judges and impeachment’

Sen. Lamar Alexander says, “There’s more to life than judges and impeachment.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The holiday rush on Capitol Hill is in full swing, and the bipartisan legislative lethargy is showing signs of easing even as the House debates articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Senate and House negotiators are still trying to reach an agreement on a bundle of spending bills, but there has been a relative abundance of other bipartisan deal-making and even actual legislation passing in the Senate.