Impeachment threatens derailment of congressional agenda

The decision by House Democrats to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against President TrumpDonald John TrumpPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash CNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview MORE in the wake of a whistleblower complaint is threatening to derail a packed fall agenda.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi arrives in Jordan with bipartisan congressional delegation Trump says his Doral resort will no longer host G-7 after backlash Scrap House defense authorization provision benefitting Russia MORE’s (D-Calif.) move on Tuesday to formally begin an inquiry came after a frenzy on Capitol Hill, where a whistleblower complaint reportedly linked to President Trump’s actions quickly overshadowed high-profile legislative battles.


Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate GOP braces for impeachment trial 'roller coaster' McConnell tees up government funding votes amid stalemate GOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' MORE (R-Ala.), who was a member of the upper chamber during the then-President Clinton impeachment trials, warned that an impeachment inquiry would become the “order of the day,” likely having a trickle-down effect on a long to-do list awaiting Congress before the end of the year. 

“It could. Everything. If they were to go down that road, it would sure take priority,” Shelby said, asked if an impeachment inquiry would grind the legislative agenda to a halt. “If they were to go down that road, it would be the order of the day.” 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynTrump slams 'very dumb' O'Rourke for proposals on guns, tax exempt status for churches GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Succession at DHS up in the air as Trump set to nominate new head MORE (Texas), a member of the GOP leadership, warned that the impeachment inquiry would “suck all the oxygen out of this place.” 

“It’s clear to me that the Democrats’ disdain for the president exceeds their desire to do things like prescription drugs … or a highway bill or pass trade agreements like the [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement]. This is going to make it almost impossible for us to do those things,” Cornyn added. 

Congress is set to leave town for a two-week recess on Thursday. When they return they’ll face a Nov. 21 deadline to fund the government — an uphill fight given that the Senate hasn’t yet passed a single fiscal 2020 spending bill. 

They also have a looming end-of-the-year fight on surveillance reforms, as well as negotiations over potential prescription drug legislation, and Republicans are growing increasingly antsy about the chances of passing Trump’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhite House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours The Memo: Trump's sea of troubles deepens McConnell: Trump's troop pull back in Syria a 'grave strategic mistake' MORE (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump touts Turkey cease-fire: 'Sometimes you have to let them fight' Mattis responds to Trump criticism: 'I guess I'm the Meryl Streep of generals' Democrats vow to push for repeal of other Trump rules after loss on power plant rollback MORE (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday faced multiple impeachment-related questions during their respective weekly press conferences — even before Pelosi formally announced the impeachment inquiry. 

McConnell tried to shut down a question about what the Senate would do if the House sends over articles of impeachment, calling it “quite premature.” 

“Wait a minute. What we have here is an allegation related to Ukrainian aid by a whistleblower. That’s about all we know now. … I’m not going to address all of these various hypotheticals that have been aired,” he said.

But previewing the likely months-long fight that will loom over any legislation, the president on Tuesday fired off a string of tweets targeting House Democrats. 

“They never even saw the transcript of the call. A total Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote. “PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT!”

The decision to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against Trump comes amid reports that the president and his personal lawyer Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiGiuliani asked State Dept. to grant visa for ex-Ukraine official at center of Biden allegations: report Overnight Energy: Trump taps deputy energy secretary to replace Perry | Praises pick Dan Brouillette as 'total professional' | Perry denies quid pro quo over Ukraine Ex-Watergate prosecutor says evidence in impeachment inquiry 'clearly' points to Trump MORE pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCNN's Anderson Cooper mocks WH press secretary over Fox News interview Yang cautions Democrats: Impeachment might not be 'successful' Ocasio-Cortez: Sanders' heart attack was a 'gut check' moment MORE and his son Hunter Biden.

Trump indicated over the weekend that he had brought up Biden during the call, but has denied allegations that he threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the issue. 

Trump on Tuesday agreed to release the transcript of his call, something congressional Republicans had urged him to do. But that did not slow momentum for impeachment that had been building for days.

The days-long swirl over the whistleblower complaint has already claimed one legislative agenda item. Senators involved with negotiating a potential deal on background checks for gun sales with the Trump administration say they’ve largely gotten radio silence from the White House since last week. 

“Unsurprisingly, we haven’t heard anything from the White House since Wednesday night. I think they’ve been consumed by this crisis over the weekend, so it would not be shocking to me if we didn’t hear anything on any other issue besides this one,” said Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyPelosi, Schumer hit 'flailing' Trump over 'sham ceasefire' deal Romney slams ceasefire deal, calls Trump's Syria move 'a bloodstain' in US history Backlash erupts at video depicting Trump killing media, critics MORE (D-Conn.).

When a reporter noted that Congress is about to leave for two weeks, he added, “I think some other issues have gotten in the way of our background checks negotiations. ... My feeling is they don’t have a lot of room to move legislative business this week.” 


Murphy and Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Senate Dems lose forced vote against EPA power plant rule Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE (D-W.Va.) and Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyNSA improperly collected US phone records in October, new documents show Overnight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns MORE (R-Pa.) have been locked in talks for weeks with the White House to try to get an agreement in the wake of a recent spate of mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso and Odessa, Texas. 

Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrFederal prosecutors interviewed multiple FBI officials for Russia probe review: report Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe Mulvaney ties withheld Ukraine aid to political probe sought by Trump MORE met with Republicans about a potential proposal to expand background checks last week, and also huddled with Murphy, Manchin and Toomey last week. 

White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland, who was at the Senate GOP lunch on Tuesday, said talks were ongoing with lawmakers, but said they didn’t view the two-week recess as a make-or-break deadline for the chances of getting a deal. 

“We continue to be engaged with the Hill. We’re still working to try to explore if there are paths forward,” Ueland told reporters. “It’s not so much a question of whether or not they’re physically here.” 

Manchin said on Tuesday he had not heard from the White House since last week. 

Asked how the whistleblower scandal was impacting gun negotiations, Manchin responded, “Things have been kind of quiet.”