Matt Cartwright

States in the East with outsize roles in the 2020 elections
Pennsylvania remains a presidential battleground, while Collins bid in Maine will be closely watched

Maine Sen. Susan Collins is a Republican running in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, but she has a strong personal brand that will help her if she seeks another term as expected 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.

Office of Congressional Ethics has transmitted four matters to Ethics Committee for further review
Cases are deemed by OCE to have a ‘substantial reason’ to believe a violation may have occurred

Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla., right, has a campaign finance matter currently before the House Ethics Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The independent investigative entity that examines ethical transgressions of House lawmakers has undertaken five new matters to review potential misconduct and transmitted four cases to the House Ethics Committee for further review in the third quarter.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, according to its latest activity report released Thursday, deemed those four matters contain a “substantial reason” to believe a violation may have occurred. 

Lowey retirement sparks Democratic Appropriations scramble
Contested battle expected for top spot on powerful House spending panel

New York Rep. Nita M. Lowey announced her retirement last week at the end of the 116th Congress. Who will replace her as the top Democrat on House Appropriations? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey’s decision to retire at the end of the 116th Congress will set off a lengthy and contentious campaign among her colleagues to determine who will become the top Democrat on the spending panel.

Unlike the Senate, which predominantly relies on seniority to determine who serves as a chairman or ranking member, the House weighs several factors before deciding who will lead a committee. And right now, assuming Democrats keep their House majority next year, signs may be pointing in the direction of Connecticut Rep. Rosa DeLauro, who will be the third-ranking Democrat on the powerful committee in 2021. 

Campus Notebook: Lawmakers to Prague, staff to Fargo, plus million-dollar trades
Lawmaker travel, stock trades, ethics complaints and other updates

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Campus notebook this week highlights where a former top law enforcement official went after he retired from the Capitol Police, international travel by members, domestic travel of staffers and substantial stock trades.

Mostly smoke, and little fire, from Republicans to Democrats on impeachment
GOP hasn’t yet launched a credible campaign against 8 of the 13 vulnerable Democrats it is targeting

Republicans are targeting Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, center, and other Democrats who are defending districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016 even though no credible candidate has yet to emerge to challenge her. (Screenshot from RNC ad)

ANALYSIS — Republicans are publicly celebrating impeachment as a political boon and trying to hold House Democrats’ feet to the fire with television ads and protests. But without credible challengers, it’s little more than expensive hot air.

Last week, President Donald Trump’s campaign manager bragged about turning up the heat on a freshman Democrat who supports the impeachment inquiry, and the Republican National Committee is on television targeting a dozen Democratic members for supporting it. But in most instances, there’s a lot of smoke and little fire, considering Republicans are still searching for credible candidates in many of the districts.

House Democrats divided on how much evidence they need to impeach Trump
After unifying around an inquiry, the caucus remains split on actual impeachment

From left, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Mikie Sherrill and Elissa Slotkin are among the Democrats who penned an op-ed saying the president might have committed impeachable offenses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats finally agreed last week that they are conducting an impeachment inquiry, but as that probe quickly unfolds there are new divisions in the caucus about how much evidence they need to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Several Democrats believe the readout of a July 25 phone call of Trump asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a potential 2020 opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son; Trump’s public statements admitting to the request; and a whistleblower complaint alleging White House lawyers and officials tried to “lock down” the call transcript is all the evidence they need to impeach.

Nine spending bills down, three to go in House
Not a single House Republican has voted for any of the spending bills, and the White House opposes them too

Chairman Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., right, full committee chair Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., and Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., conduct a House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing in Rayburn Building on April 9, 2019. Nine of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 have been passed. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House passed its second batch of fiscal 2020 spending measures Tuesday, in a $322 billion package that would block Trump administration policies on offshore drilling, a health care court challenge, the 2020 census and more.

On a mostly party-line vote of 227-194, the House passed the Democrat-written measure that combines five of the 12 annual bills needed for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Those are the Commerce-Justice-Science bill, which is the underlying vehicle, along with the Military Construction-VA, Agriculture, Transportation-HUD and the Interior-Environment bills.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and run somewhere else
Comeback trail for 2020 candidates sometimes means running in a different district — or state

Rep. Susie Lee won Nevada’s 3rd District last fall after losing the Democratic primary in the 4th District two years earlier. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of House candidates this cycle aren’t letting previous losses — or geography — get in the way of another congressional run. Dozens of members of Congress lost races before eventually winning, but some politicians are aiming their aspirations at different districts, and in some cases different states, to get to Capitol Hill.

In Arizona, Democrat Hiral Tipirneni lost two races to Republican Debbie Lesko in the 8th District last year, including a special election. This cycle, she is seeking the Democratic nomination in the neighboring 6th District to take on Republican incumbent David Schweikert.

Some vulnerable Democrats stick to the middle — though not all of them
On votes, Matt Cartwright is a notable exception among Democrats in Trump districts

Pennsylvania Rep. Matt Cartwright has the highest party unity score among House Democrats from districts that backed President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thirty-one Democrats in the House face a daunting challenge next year. They must win re-election in districts that President Donald Trump won in 2016. For many, the 2016 results were close. But in eight of the districts, Trump won in a romp, by more than 9 points.

It would make sense for those Democrats to stake out moderate territory to distinguish themselves from their party’s vocal liberal wing. Most of them are, with one notable exception.

Interior head: ‘I Haven't Lost Any Sleep’ over record carbon levels
David Bernhardt’s comment came during what was supposed to be a hearing about the department’s fiscal 2020 budget request

David Bernhardt, nominee to be Secretary of the Interior, testifies during his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on March 28, 2019. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told a House committee Wednesday that he hasn’t “lost any sleep” over record levels of global emissions that cause climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told a House committee Wednesday that he hasn’t “lost any sleep” over record levels of global emissions of climate-changing carbon emissions.

His comment came during what was supposed to be a hearing about the department’s fiscal 2020 budget request. But some of the questions from Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee focused on his handling of climate issues. Bernhardt, a former oil and gas lobbyist, was pressed to explain how climate could factor into future land management decisions.