This week: House Dems gear up to vote to impeach Trump
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE is poised to become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached as House Democrats prepare to vote this week on two articles stemming from their investigation into Trump’s actions toward Ukraine. 

House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerGOP blocks debt limit hike, government funding Democrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol House Democrats set 'goal' to vote on infrastructure, social spending package next week MORE (D-Md.) announced that the articles would come to the floor for a full House vote before lawmakers wrap up their work for the year. Hoyer’s announcement came after a tense three-day markup of the articles in the House Judiciary Committee that ended in a party-line vote. 

“These two articles of impeachment — on abuse of power and obstruction of Congress — will come to the House Floor for consideration. The representatives of the American people will then vote on whether to send this case against the President to the Senate for trial,”  Hoyer said in a statement. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The House Rules Committee has scheduled its markup related to the articles for Tuesday, with a probable vote on the floor on Wednesday. 

House Democratic leadership expects few defections, with a handful of moderate Democrats that represent districts Trump won in 2016 likely to vote with Republicans, who have expressed confidence no GOP lawmakers will vote for the articles. 

Following the vote, the impeachment process will move to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a trial is expected to start in January. With 67 votes required to convict Trump and remove him from office, the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53-47 majority, is ultimately expected to acquit Trump. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerObama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda Schumer gets shoutout, standing ovation from crowd at Tony Awards MORE (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFord to bolster electric vehicle production in multi-billion dollar push On The Money — GOP blocks spending bill to kick off chaotic week in congress Overnight Health Care — Presented by Alrtia — Booster shots get bipartisan rollout MORE (R-Ky.) on Sunday night outlining his opening salvo for negotiations over the procedures of an impeachment trial. 

“Senate Democrats believe strongly, and I trust Senate Republicans agree, that this trial must be one that is fair, that considers all of the relevant facts, and that exercises the Senate’s ‘sole Power of Impeachment’ under the Constitution with integrity and dignity. The trial must be one that not only hears all of the evidence and adjudicates the case fairly; it must also pass the fairness test with the American people,” Schumer wrote in the letter. 

Schumer also wants to call acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE, his senior adviser Robert Blair, former national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonOvernight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right Ex-Trump adviser Bolton defends Milley: 'His patriotism is unquestioned' MORE and Office of Management and Budget staffer Michael Duffey to testify as part of a Senate trial. 

Unlike in the Clinton trial, Democrats are asking for a deal on process as well as specific witnesses to be folded together in one resolution. During the Clinton impeachment trial, senators voted 100-0 on a resolution laying out the process for a trial, but a subsequent resolution calling for specific witnesses broke down along party lines. 

ADVERTISEMENT

House leadership also needs to appoint impeachment managers, who will essentially serve as prosecutors, for the Senate trial. 

House Democrats are currently jockeying to be selected for the positions. While all 13 of the impeachment managers that were tapped during the Clinton impeachment trial sat on the Judiciary Committee, many speculate Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.) will opt to also select members from the House Intelligence Committee like Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Jan. 6 panel subpoenas four ex-Trump aides Bannon, Meadows Schiff: Criminal contempt charges possible for noncooperation in Jan. 6 probe MORE (D-Calif.), who played a leading role during the initial closed-door hearings and the first phase of the public hearings. 

Several Republicans have also expressed interest in joining the president’s defense team if his advisers see it in Trump’s best interest. 

Republicans have been highly critical of Democrats' decision to move forward, slamming the probe as a partisan “witch hunt” and accusing Pelosi and Schiff of skewing the facts to spin the narrative against the president. 

“I don't care if you think Americans who support President Trump are deplorable, but you do not have the right to disqualify their vote just because you do not like President Trump,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse GOP campaign arm ties vulnerable Democrats to Biden in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Fifth House Republican comes out in support of bipartisan infrastructure bill MORE (R-Calif.) said at a press conference last week. 

Appropriations 

Facing a Dec. 20 deadline to avert a government shutdown, the House is expected to take up at least two spending packages this week. 

Hoyer announced the legislation is likely to come to the floor on Tuesday, allowing time for the Senate to pass the packages before lawmakers are set to break for the holidays. 

After days of negotiations, appropriators announced on Thursday they have reached a deal in principle with a few minor provisions having needed to be ironed out over the weekend. The agreement includes $1.37 trillion for all 12 spending bills. 

“We had a very good meeting, and there’s a meeting of the minds, and we’re going to look through some of the details, but I feel confident that we’re going to have a product very shortly,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs MORE (D-N.Y.) said Thursday. 

Details on funding for one of the negotiators’ biggest hurdles, border wall funding, which was a catalyst for a shutdown in 2018, have not yet been released. 

Trade deal

The House is slated to take action on the historic deal to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. 

The House Ways and Means Committee has a markup scheduled on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — which has received strong support from both parties— for Tuesday, with a full House vote expected as soon as Thursday. 

The deal provides a significant win for the administration, which has long argued its passage is necessary to strengthen the economy. 

Pelosi has also touted the deal as a win, noting concessions were made from what the president initially proposed over a year ago. Top Democrats have highlighted language aimed at strengthening environmental and labor standards and requiring Mexico to raise its minimum wage, which they hope will be a selling point for the progressive faction of their caucus. 

The deal was struck after roughly six months of negotiations between a group of House Democrats and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' MORE.

The Senate is not expected to take up the trade deal until after it wraps up the impeachment trial. 

Defense bill

The Senate is poised to pass a mammoth defense policy bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), this week, sending it to Trump’s desk. 

A procedural vote on the NDAA is scheduled for Monday evening, paving the way for a final vote as soon as Tuesday. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The bill includes a high-profile deal that establishes 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees in exchange for the creation of Trump’s Space Force, a new branch of the military aimed at protecting U.S. space assets. 

Under the final agreement it would be housed under the Department of the Air Force, and would be led by a chief of space operations who would become a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but report to the secretary of the Air Force. 

The $738 billion bill, which allocates spending for the Pentagon and lays out broad policy requirements, passed the House last week in a 377-48 vote. 

Trump threw his support behind the bill, pledging to “sign this historic defense legislation immediately.” 

“Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress – don’t delay this anymore!” Trump tweeted. 

Tax reform

Hoyer’s office advised that legislation that would temporarily repeal the cap put in place by the GOP’s landmark tax reform bill on the state and local tax (SALT) deduction could potentially see a vote this week. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The House Rules Committee is expected to discuss the bill on Monday. 

Plans to bring the bill up for a vote, a top priority for Democrats, come just ahead of the two-year anniversary of Republicans passing their landmark tax overhaul. 

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the SALT deduction is capped at $10,000. The Democratic-led legislation would raise the cap to $20,000 for married couples for 2019 and repeal it for the following two years. It also includes language that would increase deductions for educators. 

To offset the costs of the changes, the top individual tax rate would be raised from 37 percent to 39.6 percent from 2020 through 2025. 

The measure passed out of Ways and Means with little Republican support on Wednesday. It is likely to pass along party lines in the House, but faces an unlikely path in the upper chamber. 

Horowitz

Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz is expected to return to Capitol Hill this week to testify about his report on the FBI’s investigation into Trump campaign associates. 

Horowitz is set to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday as part of a hearing entitled “DOJ OIG FISA Report: Methodology, Scope, and Findings.” 

Horowitz’s report found that there was no evidence of political bias in the decision to open the investigation and that the bureau had an “authorized purpose” for the probe. But he also found 17 “significant inaccuracies and omissions” throughout the FBI’s investigation.

He testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he spent a significant portion of his more than five hours before the panel describing his concerns about the FBI’s investigation. 

Horowitz did poke holes in several conservative conspiracy theories, including saying that he found no evidence that former President Obama ordered the investigation into Trump campaign associates and that there was no evidence that anyone besides Page had been wiretapped by the FBI. 

That’s earned him criticism from Trump, who claimed on Sunday that "Obama knew everything" about the bureau's investigation of Trump campaign associates.

“As bad as the I.G. Report is for the FBI and others, and it is really bad, remember that I.G. Horowitz was appointed by Obama,” he wrote on Twitter. “There was tremendous bias and guilt exposed, so obvious, but Horowitz couldn’t get himself to say it. Big credibility loss. Obama knew everything!”