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2019 Review of Congress

What was accomplished?

  • Articles of Impeachment: House Democrats approved articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, accusing him of conditioning US government assistance to Ukraine on its public announcement of an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his family's involvement in Ukraine.  No Republicans voted in favor of impeachment, although a few Democrats voted no or "present".  House Democrats haven't announced a timeline for appointing impeachment managers to argue their case in a Senate trial. 
  • USMCA: The House approved the US Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace NAFTA on a bipartisan vote of 385-41.  It will be up for approval in the Senate in the new year, with the timing dependent on the House's decision to appoint managers for the impeachment trial. 
  • Ending the Longest Government Shutdown: The 116th Congress began on January 2, 2019, amid an ongoing partial government that stemmed from a dispute over border security funding and ended after 365 days on January 24, 2019, as the longest government shutdown in US history. 
  • Judicial Confirmations: The Senate confirmed dozens of judicial nominees to district and circuit courts, many along party-lines, in a continuation of Republican's efforts to fill federal benches with judges appointed by President Trump.  The Senate has confirmed 187 judges since 2017, including two Supreme Court justices, 50 circuit court judges, 133 district court judges, and two international trade court judges. 
  • 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund: The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund was permanently reauthorized and fully funded by broad bipartisna majorities in each chamber, and signed into law by President Trump.
  • Holding Barr & Ross in Contempt: The House voted along party-lines to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress for failing to comply with subpoenas related to the 2020 Census.
  • Funding for the Humanitarian Crisis at the Border: A bill to provide $4.59 billion to alleviate the humanitarian crisis at the Southern border passed the Senate on a bipartisan 84-8 vote.  It then passed the House on a bipartisan 305-102 vote, after the moderate Problem Solvers Caucus prevented Democratic leadership from making further revisions to the bill and delaying its enactment. 
  • Robocall Crackdown: A bipartisan, bicameral bill to coordinate federal agencies' efforts to crack down on robocall scams passed through Congress with near unanimous support in both chambers. 
  • The Nuclear Option: The Senate deployed the "nuclear option" for the third time in six years and shortened debate on lower tier nominations, like those to district court judgeships and non-Cabinet-level branch positions. 
  • Non-Binding Resolutions: House Democrats passed non-binding resolutions condemning all forms of bigotry, calling for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report to be made public, expressing that government shutdowns are bad for the US, opposing a ban on the service of openly transgender individuals in the military, and rejecting the Trump administration's legal campaign to undermine the ACA.  They also passed a resolution to condemn President Trumps' "racist comments" aimed at members of Congress who are immigrants to "go back" to where they came from.  

What was blocked/failed?

  • House Dems Partisan Bills: Bills passed by House Democrats along party-lines to reform campaign finance, government ethics, and voter protection laws; restore net neutrality protections; ban low-premium "junk" health plans; reverse Trump's administrative actions on Obamacare; make gender identity and sexual orientation "protected classes" under federal law; remain in the Paris Climate Agreement; and gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2024 are unlikely to received consideration.
  • Censuring Rep. Adam Schiff: Republican's effort to censure Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, for his impeachment hearing "parody" of the controversial call between President Trump and Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky was blocked on a party-line vote the Democratic majority.

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