DC UPDATE: Impeachment, Presidential Power & the Race to the White House

Impeachment: What’s going on? If anyone has ever watched a Law and Order episode where the detective interviews a group of crazy kids who’ve committed a crime and every one of them has different stories…. Yeah, sorting out what’s happening with impeachment is kind of like that. All the major players seem to have wildly divergent views on how and when this whole thing will go down, so I can only summarize what they’re saying. In the House, Pelosi is currently holding the articles of impeachment, and announced today she will release them next week. Some staffers have not ruled out another run for impeachment if new info comes to light, particularly given Bolton’s statement this week he is willing to testify before the Senate. Leadership hasn’t spoken publicly on the issue. In the Senate Schumer and McConnell have yet to agree on the rules for the trial and at this point it looks like McConnell will cobble together some sort of rules and get 51 senators to approve it and in the meantime has vowed to run regular business. The DNC has also said debate dates could change based on impeachment since so many sitting senators would be on the stage. In summation: we will probably have impeachment in the Senate at some point in Q1, using rules that have yet to be determined and resulting in a verdict that already is.

Iran & Presidential Power: You’ve doubtless read all about Trump’s decision to authorize the killing of Qassem Soleimani. There has been a lot of Hill chatter since that became public about how Congress might limit the President’s ability to go to war. Pelosi announced earlier this week that a resolution would be brought forward to limit Trump’s ability to go to war with Iran: “It reasserts Congress’s long-established oversight responsibilities by mandating that if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities with regard to Iran cease within 30 days.” Keep in mind that Congress often talks about limits on Presidential power through many administrations but has historical chickened out on actually curbing it. The House passed this resolution along largely partisan lines, and it will likely fail in the Senate. There is some frustration both about the limited nature of the briefing Congress received after the fact and that Trump stated on twitter that going forward, his tweets will count as the official notification to Congress when it comes to future military action with Iran. This will likely consume much of the debate for a little while, especially given how fluid the situation is with both Iran and Iraq.

Democratic Nominees: At least the debates are better than watching Cats? Williamson has let her entire staff go and stated she is not dropping out of the race… and then dropped several hours ago. This move comes as she has failed to qualify for a debate stage in months, and shows no signs of picking up steam. Castro (clearly after reading my email foretelling his exit in early Jan) dropped out on the 2nd; he also failed to qualify for the debates in November and December, and did not look to qualify in January. In December Harris also dropped, despite qualifying for the December debate. The other December drop was Bullock, and if you’re asking yourself who that was, you’ve also answered why he left. Those left are: Bennet, Biden, Bloomberg, Booker, Buttigieg, Delaney, Gabbard, Klobuchar, Duvall, Sanders, Steyer, Warren and Yang. Bloomberg continues to spend millions on ads, and has publicly said he doesn’t need or want to be on a debate stage. Bennet, Delaney, Gabbard, and Williamson failed to qualify for one or more recent debates – Duvall hasn’t qualified for any -  so it will be interesting to see if they bow to the inevitable and drop, or continue powering through the last month before Super Tuesday. Booker has cut deeply into his staff in NH, but for now appears to want to hang on. Expect to see a lot of drops around the time of cutoff (Jan 10th) for the next debate or right after Super Tuesday.

The Debate Schedule: Debates are scheduled for January: 14th and February: 7, 19, 25 (this is not a typo, there will actually be 3 debates in one month. I’m clearly being punished for my sins in a previous life)

Retirements by the Numbers: 26 House and 4 Senate Republicans have decided to retire in 2020. 7 House and 1 Senate Democrats have decided to retire in 2020. In 2018, the House lost 28 Republicans, so this trend is worrying.

Questions about DC? You can email Ashley Amidon, VP of Public Policy at aamidon@pestworld.org