What to Know in Washington: Inquiry Vote to Show Deep Divisions

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House Democrats hold a historic vote today to affirm an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump that also will starkly illustrate the country’s political divisions.

After weeks of testimony, Democrats and Republicans head into the Capitol firmly battened down for a fight over their views of the president: That his actions in office at least merit an investigation or that he’s done nothing wrong.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had been dismissing Republican demands that the full House vote to authorize an impeachment inquiry as unnecessary, shifted course and announced that the chamber would consider a resolution that sets the parameters and process for an investigation.

The vote, which House leaders expect to take place between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., is a step well short of authorizing Trump’s impeachment, but no one on either side doubts that’s where things will end up.

The resolution in support of the inquiry will be the first chance for all House members to be on record supporting or rejecting the impeachment process. It is headed for a mostly straight party-line vote, with the Democratic majority prevailing.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if not a single Republican votes for it,” said Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the second-ranking House Republican.

The vote won’t mean an immediate end to the closed-door hearings that have been bitterly criticized by Trump and Republican lawmakers. But the resolution will set up public hearings by the Intelligence Committee, led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who has become the face of the Democrats’ impeachment effort. Read more from Billy House.


Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg
Trump at the White House on Wednesday.

Bolton Is Asked to Testify: Former National Security Adviser John Bolton has been asked to testify on Nov. 7 before the House committees conducting the impeachment inquiry, according to a person familiar with the matter. Also asked to testify are NSC attorney John Eisenberg and White House NSC legal adviser Michael Ellis, who have both been requested to appear on Nov. 4, the person said. Bolton was ousted from the White House last month, but it’s unclear how he’ll respond to the deposition request. Read more from Billy House.

NSC Aide Resigns: National Security Council aide Timothy Morrison left his position a day before his scheduled testimony today, a senior Trump administration official said. Morrison served as special assistant to the president and the NSC’s senior director for Europe and Russia, Jordan Fabian reports.

Happening on the Hill

Delay for Spending Talks Weighed: Democrats and Republicans in Congress are deliberating whether to push a deadline to fund the government into early February to avoid having a budget fight amid an impeachment inquiry into the president that’s set to stretch at least into December. That will mean enacting another stopgap spending bill to avert a federal shutdown when the current short-term funds run out Nov. 21, assuming the two sides won’t be able to agree on a spending plan by then.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) has floated the idea of a stopgap spending measure until February, but he said he hasn’t discussed it with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell(R-Ky.). Read more from Erik Wasson.

Banning Drilling: Two bills to shield federal lands from mineral and fossil fuel extraction passed the House with broad support from Democrats, while Republicans characterized the legislation as a land grab that would hurt local communities. The House voted 236-185 to pass the Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act and 245-174 to pass the Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act. The bills, which would protect land around Arizona’s Grand Canyon and New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park, have similar goals of banning new mining and drilling, but may have different paths in the Senate and beyond. Read more from Tiffany Stecker.

Green Card Backlog: A group of Democratic senators is asking for a hearing on a handful of measures aimed at clearing up a backlog of high-skill employment visas that have left thousands of primarily Indian workers waiting decades for their green cards. “One of the most serious problems in our immigration system is that prospective immigrants are stuck in green-card backlogs for many years,” the senators said in a letter to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Border Security and Immigration panel. Read more from Laura D. Francis.

Undocumented Agriculture Workers: A bipartisan bill aimed at giving thousands of undocumented agricultural workers a path to legal status in exchange for a stronger employee verification could reach the House floor before the end of the year, lawmakers said yesterday. The bill could serve as a potential first step toward getting additional immigration reform passed, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said after the bill’s unveiling. Although it faces an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Senate, the measure serves as a marker for potential bipartisan action in the future. Read more from Jaclyn Diaz.

SALT Bill Prepped: House Ways and Means Democrats met to discuss a bill that would temporarily repeal the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions for a few years or would raise the dollar amount on the cap. The measure being considered would also fix what’s referred to as the SALT marriage penalty, in which a single person and a married couple get the same $10,000 deduction while an unmarried couple filing separately could get a $20,000 deduction. Read more from Kaustuv Basu.

  • Meanwhile, the White House is reviewing proposed rules intended to shield businesses from an IRS crackdown on efforts to get around state and local deduction caps, according to an IRS spokesperson. Read more from Lydia O’Neal.

Over-the-Counter Drug Bill: Sen. Johnny Isakson(R-Ga.), before he retires at the end of the year, plans to take another shot at overhauling how over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin are regulated. Supporters of the bill say they hope to help the long-time Georgia Republican, who has been in Congress for 20 years, clear his long-stalled measure this year. “Maybe out of respect to Sen. Isakson we will finally do it,” said Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), whose panel will consider the bill today. Read more from Alex Ruoff.

Ex-Im Bank Extension: Key House and Senate Republicans said they would support a short-term extension of the Export-Import Bank in a new stopgap spending bill, with a long-term reauthorization delayed by a dispute over banning export credits for China’s state-owned companies. The Ex-Im Bank’s authority to approve U.S. export credits lapses Nov. 21 when the current stopgap spending law to fund the government expires. Read more from James Rowley.

Energy Tax Bill: House Ways and Means Democrats continue work on a clean energy tax package even though a long to-do list may preclude such a package from advancing to the floor this year. Democrats on the tax-writing panel originally hoped to hold a markup this fall on a comprehensive package intended to encourage the use of clean energy. But no legislation has been released as of yesterday and the House is only scheduled to be in legislative session for 17 more days. Read more from Kaustuv Basu.

Interior IG Fighting Harassment: The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has opened 22 sexual harassment investigations since 2016, when the department was rocked by widely publicized allegations of sexual misconduct at the Grand Canyon and other national parks, the inspector general told a House panel yesterday. “We have uncovered sexual misconduct in parks as large as Yellowstone, and as small as Canaveral National Seashore,” IG Mark Greenblatt told the House Natural Resources Committee’s oversight panel. Read more from Louis C. LaBrecque.

Elections, Politics & Policy

Trump Airs Ad During World Series: The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros last night 6-2, winning the first World Series Championship in the franchise’s history. Trump congratulated the team after the victory.”Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on a great season and an incredible World Series. Game 7 was amazing!” he tweeted.

During the game, Trump’s re-election campaign broadcast a new advertisement hailing the candidate as “no Mr. Nice Guy,” Chelsea Mes reports. “He’s no Mr. Nice Guy, but sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to change Washington,” the commercial’s narrator says. The ad goes on to claim that the Trump administration created 6 million new jobs, cut illegal immigration in half, and touts the killing of the Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Democrats, the ad says, “would rather focus on impeachment and phony investigations.” Trump’s campaign manager tweeted: “Game 7 World Series ad, 1 year out. #WeAreComing and fighting for the forgotten Americans.”

Trump Team Aims to Expand Base: Flush with cash, Trump’s re-election team envisions a greatly expanded campaign map in which he’ll challenge his Democratic opponent in blue states he narrowly lost in 2016, including Minnesota, Colorado and even New Mexico and Oregon. Trump’s campaign spent just $30,000 in Minnesota in 2016 and lost by only 1.5 percentage points. This time around, the campaign plans to pour millions of dollars into the state in order to win its 10 electoral college votes. His campaign has also hired staff in Colorado, which he lost by about 5 points, and in New Mexico, which he lost by 8. Read more from Mario Parker.

Trump Boasts on Economy Are Undercut: Trump boasts that a robust economy will protect him from impeachment and ensure his re-election, but it’s an argument resting on a shaky foundation. The middle-class Americans who are the main targets of Trump’s economic pitch aren’t sharing much in the gains of U.S. growth. Worse yet for Trump, wage growth has been slower in the counties he carried in 2016. That risks blunting his message with the Republican political base. Read more from Mike Dorning and Catarina Saraiva.

Harris to Cut Staff: Short on cash and falling in the polls, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) plans to cut staff in her Baltimore headquarters and reduce pay for advisers in an effort to keep her presidential bid afloat. Campaign manager Juan Rodriguez outlined the restructuring in a memo, citing a need to reduce spending to maximize prospects in Iowa. Read more from Sahil Kapur.

Biden’s Lead Over Warren Narrows: Biden’s lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been halved in a national USA Today/Suffolk University poll released yesterday. The poll showed Biden on top with 26% support among likely Democratic voters, followed by Warren at 17%, Bernie Sanders(I-Vt.) at 13% and Pete Buttigieg at 10%. All other candidates were in the single digits. Read more from Ryan Teague Beckwith.

Twitter to Ban Political Advertising: Twitter will ban political advertising from its platform, CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted yesterday. The new policy, to be enforced globally, will go into effect Nov. 22. The company plans to publish a new political ads policy outlining the change in a few weeks. “We believe political message reach should be earned, not bought,” Dorsey wrote on Twitter. Twitter’s decision comes as Facebook has publicly defended its policy of not fact-checking posts from politicians, including ads. Read more from Kurt Wagner.

Clinton, Romney Managers Provide Help for Hacks: Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades are from different sides of the political aisle. Mook, a Democrat, was campaign manager for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Rhoades, a Republican, ran Mitt Romney’s presidential run in 2012. But both of the campaigns they ran were targeted by foreign adversaries. Mook and Rhoades created a nonprofit, which opens for business today, with the goal of providing free or low-cost cybersecurity services to congressional and presidential candidates. Called Defending Digital Campaigns, it plans to serve as a clearinghouse that connects campaigns with cybersecurity companies. Read more from William Turton.

Foreign Affairs

China Said to Doubt Long-Term Trade Deal: Chinese officials are casting doubts about reaching a comprehensive long-term trade deal with the U.S. even as the two sides get close to signing a “phase one” agreement. In private conversations with visitors to Beijing and other interlocutors in recent weeks, Chinese officials have warned they won’t budge on the thorniest issues, according to people familiar with the matter. They remain concerned about Trump’s impulsive nature and the risk he may back out of even the limited deal both sides say they want to sign in the coming weeks. Read more from Shawn Donnan, Jenny Leonard and Steven Yang.

Korea Fires Two Unidentified Projectiles: North Korea fired at least two unidentified projectiles off its eastern coast, South Korea’s military said, reminding world leaders of its stalled nuclear talks with the U.S. ahead of a regional summit in Bangkok. The projectiles were fired from North Korea’s western province of South Pyongan on Thursday and landed in the sea separating the peninsula from Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test was likely of a short-range ballistic missile that fell outside its exclusive waters. Read more from Jihye Lee and Emi Nobuhiro.

Afghan Casualties Surged to Record: Attacks against the civilian population in Afghanistan surged to a record before the September presidential elections, according to a Pentagon watchdog that has been tracking the war that began 18 years after the U.S. invasion to oust the Taliban. Civilian casualties attributed to Taliban forces more than tripled in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or Sigar, said in a report published late yesterday. The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan reported a 42% increase in civilian casualties for the same period, putting them at a record high of 4,313, according to the report. Read more from Glen Carey.

Video of Al-Baghdadi Raid: The Pentagon released video footage of the weekend raid that led to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, including attacks on fighters from the area surrounding the compound where the terrorist leader was hiding. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of U.S. Central Command, showed images at the Pentagon of the U.S. attack yesterday, including the strikes on the fighters as well as U.S. forces approaching al-Baghdadi’s compound. The site was about four miles from the Turkish border in Idlib province. Read more from Glen Carey and Tony Capaccio.

Conan the Dog Gets White House Visit: The U.S. military working dog who was part of the raid that ended in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi will get a hero’s welcome from Trump at the White House. Trump, who earlier had said the dog’s name was classified, revealed in a Twitter post that the Belgian Malinois is called ‘Conan’. The dog “will be leaving the Middle East for the White House sometime next week,” said in the Twitter post that showed an altered photo of the president giving the animal a medal. Read more from Derek Wallbank.

What Else to Know Today

Supreme Court Could Limit Clean Water Act: A Supreme Court dispute involving a coral reef off Hawaii could impose major limits on the U.S. Clean Water Act, giving mines and coal-fired power plants what environmental advocates say would be a new license to pollute. The justices are set to hear arguments Nov. 6 in the case, which centers on treated wastewater that makes its way into the waters off a picturesque Maui beach. Read more from Greg Stohr.

Interior to Stop Using Chinese Drones: The federal agency responsible for maintaining America’s vast federal lands, is halting the use of non-essential Chinese-made drones, following pressure from members of Congress. The Interior Department resisted making the move in recent months. In July, it announced that it had completed a 15-month review of its drone program. That review recommended strategies for making sure data didn’t leak, but allowed for the continued use of DJI drones. In a reversal Wednesday, the department said in a statement to Bloomberg News that it would stop flying non-essential Chinese drones pending a review of the program. Read more from Eric Newcomer.

Steel-Tariff Waiver Process Transparency: The process used to grant waivers to metal-imports tariffs lacks transparency, contributing to the “appearance of improper influence,” according to the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Commerce Department. Commerce Department officials and “interested parties” have discussed information about pending exclusion requests that wasn’t included in the official record, and then took action consistent with that information, Carol N. Rice, the assistant Inspector General for audit and evaluation, wrote in a memorandum to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday. Read more from Joe Deaux.

To contact the reporters on this story: Zachary Sherwood in Washington at zsherwood@bgov.com; Brandon Lee in Washington at blee@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at gmacri@bgov.com; Loren Duggan at lduggan@bgov.com

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