Illinois

States in the Midwest with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Rust Belt states helped decide the presidency, and have numerous competitive races for House, Senate

Republican Sen. Joni Ernst’s reelection is one of several that make Iowa at battleground state in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If there’s an abiding lesson from 2016, it’s that national public opinion in the presidential race is not as important as the votes of individual states. Republican Donald Trump won by taking 304 electoral votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s 227, even as Clinton beat him by 2.9 million votes and 2.1 percentage points nationally.

In 2020, Democrats will be looking to recapture states Trump won that went for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. And many of those states will also be prime battlegrounds in the fight for control of the Senate, where Democrats need a net gain of four seats to take a majority (three if they win the White House and the vice president can break 50-50 ties), while Republicans need a net gain of 19 seats to retake the House.

Watch: Rodney Davis and Eleanor Holmes Norton show off their scooter skills (or lack thereof)
Holmes Norton is an advocate for allowing electric scooters on the Capitol campus

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton tries out an e-scooter at a Capitol Hill safety demonstration on Wednesday. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call).

Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., attended an e-scooter safety demonstration on Capitol Hill Wednesday afternoon, hosted by the Micromobility Coalition. Holmes Norton is an advocate of allowing e-scooters on the Capitol campus.

“Let’s bring the Congress into the 21st century,” she said Wednesday.

Democrats target Trump defenses in first impeachment hearing
Two articulate and polished career diplomats lend gravitas to much-anticipated public event

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff, joined by other House Democrats, speaks to reporters Wednesday's hearing. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats used the first day of impeachment hearings to take aim at the various defenses President Donald Trump and his congressional allies have raised during the inquiry into his Ukraine dealings — a strategy that allows them to advance their case alongside a drumbeat of witness testimony over the next two weeks.

The House Intelligence Committee started that push Wednesday with two articulate and polished veteran diplomats, whose deep knowledge of Ukraine turned into succinct explanations of the unusual circumstances surrounding how the Trump administration handled almost $400 million in military aid to the country.

Therapy dogs provide paws to impeachment hearing stress
Capitol Hill wasn’t entirely miserable on Wednesday

Heard on the Hill correspondent Kathryn Lyons with therapy dogs Zamboni and Spumoni, who were on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for an event run by Pet Partners and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council to help provide staffers stress relief. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

First high-tension impeachment hearings in a generation got you stressed? Then take a little, ahem, “paws” from the proceedings and allow therapy dogs Lola, Zamboni and Spumoni to soothe some of those, um, “ruff” feelings.

The pups came to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, courtesy of Pet Partners and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council, to spread some positive vibes among the two-leggers, and timing of their appearance couldn’t have been more opportune as the House Intelligence Committee began its first public hearing on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. 

Democrats urge career EPA scientist to resist research limits
Proposed EPA rule would prohibit rules based on science that doesn't identify research subjects

The EPA has proposed limits on the kinds of science that can be used to make environmental rules.  l(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The long-serving EPA scientist came to a House committee to defend a Trump administration proposal to limit the kind of science used in environmental rulemaking, but Democrats on the panel urged her to resist the change. 

Testifying before the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday, Jennifer to stand up against the agency’s political leadership as she defended a Trump , EPA’s science adviser and principal deputy assistant administrator for science at the agency’s Office of Research and Development, defended the agency’s “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” rule as necessary for making sound decisions.

Lawmakers aim to thwart Amtrak forced-arbitration policy
New rule prevents lawsuits over injuries or deaths of passengers in rail accidents

Emergency crews at the scene of an Amtrak train derailment that killed three people in December 2017 near DuPont, Wash. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Lawmakers are in the initial stages of determining whether they can prevent Amtrak from implementing a forced arbitration policy that would bar passengers from suing if they’re hurt or killed in crashes.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, said Wednesday that he was trying to determine how best to stop the government-supported passenger rail service from imposing the forced arbitration policy on customers. Amtrak began imposing the policy in January.

‘Dreamers,’ Democrats push for DACA
While Dreamers await Supreme Court decision, Democrats push Senate leadership to pass DACA bill

DACA recipients, including Jirayut “New” Latthivongskorn (left) Carolina Fung Geng, (3rd from left), plaintiff Martin Batalla Vidal (center) and Eliana Fernández (3rd from right) pump their fists before entering the U.S. Supreme Court before Tuesday’s arguments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Waving American flags and holding up signs that read “Defend DACA” and “Make SCOTUS great again,” hundreds of young immigrants, activists and their supporters demonstrated Tuesday outside the Supreme Court steps as justices inside heard arguments regarding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Just a few blocks away at the Capitol, meanwhile, congressional Democrats urged Senate leadership to take up House-passed legislation that would ensure protections for this population.

Supreme Court grapples with end of ‘Dreamers’ program
Decision next year could ultimately reshape decades-old immigration debate

A protester holds up a sign during a rally outside of the Supreme Court on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

A divided Supreme Court appeared reluctant Tuesday to undo the Trump administration’s decision to end an Obama-era program that gives nearly 700,000 so-called Dreamers the ability to work in the United States and avoid deportation.

During more than an hour of oral arguments, attorneys for challengers told the justices that the Department of Homeland Security — while it has the authority to end the discretionary program — did not adequately explain why the administration chose to do so.

Mark Sanford ends his primary challenge to President Trump
Two other Republicans are still challenging Trump for the nomination

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford ended his presidential bid Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination Tuesday — just two months after his campaign began. 

“I am suspending my race for the Presidency because impeachment has made my goal of making the debt, deficit and spending issue a part of this presidential debate impossible right now,” Sanford said in a statement. He made the announcement at a news conference at the New Hampshire Statehouse. 

Who’s holding the impeachment hearings? Meet the House Intelligence Committee
Backgrounds vary on Intelligence Committee looking at impeachment of Trump

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., right, ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., center, and Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, prepare for a hearing in September. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Most members of the House Intelligence Committee aren’t household names, but they’re about to be thrust into the national spotlight.

The committee this week begins public hearings in the House’s impeachment inquiry, which is investigating whether President Donald Trump abused his office by withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for investigations into his political opponents.