News, Trump Administration

‘Real rush’ of Trump rules expected ahead of 2020 election

WASHINGTON — The administration is preparing to finalize a host of high-profile rules in 2020, including policies that will impact everything from auto emissions to food stamp access.

With the November presidential election approaching, the administration is widely expected to make a push to wrap up pending regulations early in 2020 in an effort to bolster those rules against a possible Democratic administration that may seek to unravel Trump’s policies.

“There’s going to be a real rush this spring,” said Myron Ebell, director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a limited-government advocacy group. Ebell led the Trump administration’s transition team at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency following Trump’s 2016 election. “They want to get everything final and the litigation started before mid-May,” he added.

If Trump loses in the November contest, his opponents would likely try to halt regulations using legislative and legal tools. Congress can overturn recently finalized rules, and the executive branch can move to walk back rules that are mired in court challenges.

In the coming months, “there’s probably going to be a push [by the Trump administration] to try to finalize anything that’s already been proposed,” said Amit Narang, a regulatory expert at the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.

Trump administration officials have been effective at overturning the work of their predecessors.

With the help of the GOP-led Congress, the administration effectively torpedoed a slew of Obama-era regulations. After Trump’s inauguration, GOP lawmakers used the Congressional Review Act to overturn 16 Obama rules, according to the Center for Progressive Reform. That law had been used only once before that, when the George W. Bush administration overturned a Clinton-era rule dealing with workplace safety.

Regulatory experts predict the administration is working hard behind the scenes to ensure that their own policies aren’t as vulnerable. Trump’s roadmap was laid out in a recent regulatory timeline, which estimates the dates for finalizing federal agencies’ rules.

Here’s a look at some of the noteworthy Trump regulations expected in 2020:

Food stamp restrictions 

The Trump administration came under fire for critics in December when it finalized one of three rules expected to dramatically reduce access to food stamps nationwide.

The administration is also expected to finalize the elimination of another policy that allows people to automatically qualify for food stamps if they receive certain other benefits. A third food stamp proposal would change how utility costs factor into benefit calculations.

Combined, the administration’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) rules could lead to 3.7 million fewer people receiving food stamp benefits nationwide, according to an analysis by the Urban Institute.

The two additional policies are expected to be finalized in May, according to the administration’s timeline.

Climate rule rollback

The administration is expected to soon finalize its overhaul of Obama-era greenhouse gas limits and fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks. Trump officials have called the Obama policy too costly, but the revisions have drawn a backlash from environmentalists and other critics.

The final regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department are expected in April, according to the administration’s timeline. The administration proposed freezing fuel economy standards through 2026 — reversing a major Obama climate rule that would have forced automakers to dramatically boost their fleets’ fuel economy by 2025.

Trump’s final rules are expected to modestly boost fuel efficiency in comparison with the proposal, Reuters reported, but the requirements are still expected to be far weaker than the Obama rules.

Health care

Early in 2020, the Trump administration is planning to finalize its rollback of an Obama-era rule barring health care providers from discriminating against transgender people.

The Obama administration rule barred discrimination based on “gender identity,” but the Trump administration’s draft replacement rule asserts that federal laws banning sex discrimination in health care don’t apply to people’s “gender identity,” NBC reported.

Critics of the draft policy from the Department of Health and Human Services warn that it will hinder access to medical care for transgender people. The Obama rule bans health insurers from restricting services that help people transition from one gender to another, according to The New York Times.

Campus sexual assault 

A contentious rule dealing with campus sexual assault is also expected to be issued soon.

The final rule from the Education Department is expected to give new rights to students accused of sexual assault, The Washington Post reported in November. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said when she issued the proposal, “Every survivor of sexual violence must be taken seriously, and every student accused of sexual misconduct must know that guilt is not predetermined.”

Opponents of the policy have warned that it’ll prevent reporting of sexual assault and harassment and won’t do enough to protect women on campuses. The final rule was slated for release in November 2019, according to the regulatory calendar, but has been delayed.

News

DC update: The full story of the House impeachment vote (including statements from NC reps)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote that “the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary.”

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House voted to impeach President Donald Trump Wednesday night, making him the third president to be impeached in U.S. history.

Trump was impeached on largely party line votes on charges that he abused power and obstructed Congress. The charges surround allegations that Trump improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival in an effort to interfere with the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

No House Republicans voted to adopt either impeachment article. Two House Democrats voted against both articles of impeachment — Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey. Van Drew was reportedly planning to switch parties to become a Republican. Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine) voted yes on the first article but against the obstruction of Congress article. Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on both articles.

North Carolina’s delegation voted entirely along party lines.  Democratic Reps. Alma Adams, G.K. Butterfield and David Price voted in support of both impeachment articles. Republicans Dan Bishop, Ted Budd, Virginia Foxx, George Holding, Richard Hudson, Patrick McHenry, Mark Meadows, Greg Murphy, David Rouzer, and Mark Walker voted against both articles.

The vote came after a lengthy and heated debate on the House floor, as Democrats warned that Trump had trampled on the U.S. Constitution, while his GOP defenders accused the House majority of manufacturing a case for impeachment due to their disdain for Trump’s policies.

“The founders’ great fear of a rogue or corrupt president is the very reason why they enshrined impeachment in the Constitution,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty. It is tragic that the president’s reckless actions make impeachment necessary. He gave us no choice.”

Only two other presidents had previously been impeached by the House: Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998. Both of those presidents were acquitted by the Senate.

Trump also appears to be headed for acquittal in the GOP-led Senate. A trial, in which House Democrats will argue their case before the upper chamber of Congress, is expected to begin next month.

Some senators have been cautious about stating whether they’ll vote to remove Trump from office, arguing that they’ll be jurors in the trial and don’t want to prejudge the outcome. But not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that he is “not at all impartial” on impeachment and that it is a “political process.”

As lawmakers prepared to vote on Wednesday, Trump wrote on Twitter: “SUCH ATROCIOUS LIES BY THE RADICAL LEFT, DO NOTHING DEMOCRATS. THIS IS AN ASSAULT ON AMERICA, AND AN ASSAULT ON THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!!”

Trump held a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Mich., on Wednesday night. “By the way, it doesn’t really feel like we’re being impeached, the country is doing better than ever before. We did nothing wrong and we have tremendous support in the Republican Party like never before,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post.

Democrats delivered sharper rebukes of the president, arguing that failing to impeach Trump would set a precedent that other presidents could invite foreign interference in U.S. elections.

“I know the president said that he can get away with anything he wants to. I come today to tell you that no, he cannot, because no one is above the law and he shall be held accountable,” said Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who was involved in the House investigation of the Ukraine scandal.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that in his nearly 40 years in the House under six presidential administrations, he never expected to “encounter such an obvious wrongdoing by a president of the United States. Nor did I expect to witness such a craven rationalization of presidential actions which have put our national security at risk, undermined the integrity of our elections and defied the constitutional authority of the Congress to conduct oversight.”

Republicans, meanwhile, spent the debate accusing their Democratic colleagues of pursuing a political vendetta against the president, pointing frequently to statements Democrats had made supporting impeachment before the Ukraine investigation was launched.

“Why do we keep calling this a solemn occasion, when you’ve been wanting to do this ever since [Trump]  was elected?” said Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.

“The president has been driving these guys crazy because he’s getting things done,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, the top Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee. “When you drain the swamp, the swamp fights back. They started attacking the president before the election even.”

Democrats vehemently denied GOP attacks that they were pursuing impeachment because they hate Trump’s policies or dislike him personally.

“I don’t hate the president, but I love my country and I have no other choice,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.). “Voting for these articles of impeach is the only moral course of action, the only way to honor our oath of office. I have no doubt that the votes I cast today will stand the test of time.”

One independent congressman, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, sided with Democrats to vote for both articles of impeachment. Amash, who helped found the conservative House Freedom Caucus, left the GOP earlier this year after calling for Trump’s impeachment.

Trump’s “actions reflect precisely the type of conduct the framers of the Constitution intended to remedy through the power of impeachment, and it is our duty to impeach him,” Amash said Wednesday on the House floor.

Here are some selected quotes from North Carolina representatives: Read more

News

U.S. House Judiciary Committee votes to impeach Trump

(L-R) House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and ranking member Doug Collins (R-GA) speak to each other during testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker – Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump Friday morning along party lines, setting up a likely vote next week in the full House.

The Judiciary Committee voted 23-17 entirely along party lines to advance the two articles, which charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress in response to allegations that he improperly pressured Ukraine’s president to interfere in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and blocked lawmakers’ efforts to investigate the incident. 

No North Carolina lawmakers serve on the committee.

The roll call came after two days of heated sparring among members on the committee. Democrats declared that Trump gave them no choice but to move ahead on the impeachment articles. Republicans, meanwhile, remained steadfast in their defense of the president, arguing that Democrats had their sights set on impeachment since Trump’s inauguration.

The full House is expected to pass the articles on the House floor next week ahead of a congressional recess. That vote is also expected to be largely partisan, with the likely defection of some moderate Democrats.

If the articles pass the House, Trump will become the third president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House, following Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton. President Richard Nixon resigned after the Judiciary Committee approved articles of impeachment against him, but before the full House held a vote.

The U.S. Senate is expected to hold an impeachment trial early next year. Trump is almost certain to be acquitted by the GOP-led chamber, but the vote is likely to be a difficult one for some vulnerable Republican senators facing tough reelection fights in 2020.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Fox News Thursday night that there’s “no chance the President is going to be removed from office.”

Ahead of Friday’s committee vote, Democrats called impeachment their solemn duty, arguing that Congress couldn’t let Trump’s behavior stand.

“The reason that we’re moving forward on articles of impeachment is that the president of the United States abused his power by soliciting foreign interference in his own reelection, thereby cheating American voters,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.).

“Look, if President Trump’s abuse of power and obstruction of Congress are not impeachable, nothing is,” said Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.). “The primary check on a president becoming a king is elections. This president abused his powers to undermine our elections.”

Republicans accused their colleagues in the majority of failing to provide convincing evidence against the president, and they introduced a series of amendments attacking the articles, all of which were voted down Thursday by the Democratic majority.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the committee, called the panel a “rubber stamp” for Democrats’ agenda. He accused Democrats of defining the abuse of power as “anything they want it to mean.” Democrats “don’t care, facts be damned,” he said.

As the epic vote headed into its 12th hour on Thursday night, Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) lamented, “I have not heard a new point or an original thought from either side in the last three hours. The same talking points have been repeated over and over again, ad nauseum, by both sides.” He offered a suggestion: “If no one has anything new to add they resist the temptation to inflict what we’ve already heard over and over again.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) surprised the GOP by adjourning the vote late Thursday night, declaring that the vote would be held Friday morning. Republicans on the committee were furious, accusing Nadler of upending schedules and failing to consult them about their plans. Read more

News, Trump Administration

Here’s what you missed on impeachment last night

House Judiciary Committee member U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D- GA.) said President Donald Trump’s “high crimes threaten our democracy itself.” He added: “This is one heck of an emergency.” He is pictured here at a July hearing. Win McNamee/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee kicked off a vote on impeachment articles Wednesday night with a plea to his Republican colleagues.

“I know you,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.). “I have worked with many of you for years. I consider you to be good and decent public servants.” He spoke as lawmakers convened ahead of a likely committee vote Thursday on articles to impeach President Donald Trump.

“I know this moment may be difficult, but you still have a choice,” Nadler said. He urged Republicans to remember that Trump “will not be president forever.

“When our country returns as surely it will to calmer times and stronger leadership, history will look back on our actions here today. How would you be remembered?”

But anyone expecting a sea change from either political party would have been sorely disappointed while watching the opening statements. In the debate that went late into Wednesday night, lawmakers on both sides assailed their colleagues across the aisle, accusing them of overt partisanship.

Democrats implored Republicans to put politics aside and break ranks with the GOP to rebuke Trump; Republicans uniformly defended the president and accused the majority of fabricating a case in an attempt to oust an executive whose policies they have loathed since he assumed the White House.

After the public sparring, the Democratic majority on the committee is expected to approve impeachment articles this week, sending them to the full House floor for a vote. If they’re approved by the House as expected, a Senate trial will likely be held early next year.

GOP says impeachment boosts Trump in 2020

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the panel, set the tone for his party with a sharp retort to Nadler. He accused Democrats of pursuing a three-year vendetta against Trump.

“This is not new. We’ve been trying this for almost three years,” Collins said of the efforts to impeach Trump. “The only thing that has changed is the opportunity from last November when you became the majority,” he told Democrats.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) prodded Democrats to change course, calling the impeachment proceedings “scary stuff.”

Democrats, he said, “have never accepted the will of the American people,” Jordan said. “I hope you guys will reconsider and stop it while you can.”

Republicans also warned Democrats that the impeachment proceedings would help Trump keep the White House in the 2020 election and could help the GOP reclaim the House majority.

“This is the quickest, thinnest, weakest, most partisan impeachment in all of American presidential history,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.). “We’ll see you on the field in 2020.”

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) told his colleagues to “go ahead” and vote for impeachment. “Say goodbye to your majority status and please join us in January 2021 when President Trump is inaugurated again.”

‘One heck of an emergency’ 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who was a staffer to the Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon in 1974, pointed to Republican lawmakers who supported impeachment following the Watergate scandal. Read more

News

The latest from Washington: GOP unmoved as Dems cite ‘overwhelming’ evidence for impeachment

Image: Adobe stock

WASHINGTON — Lawyers for U.S. House Democrats laid out their best case for impeaching President Donald Trump on Monday, warning that his behavior continues to pose an “imminent threat” to national security.

Democrats are pushing ahead with impeachment proceedings against Trump after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) directed committee leaders to draft formal impeachment articles.

An hours-long hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Monday gave staff attorneys the opportunity to lay out their strongest arguments for and against impeachment. But the proceedings did little to move the needle on Capitol Hill, where both sides remain firmly entrenched in their positions on whether Trump abused his power by pressuring Ukraine’s president to investigate Trump’s political rival.

“We are here today because Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, abused the power of his office, the American presidency, for his political and personal benefit,” testified Daniel Goldman, counsel for the House Intelligence Committee. “President Trump directed a months-long campaign to solicit foreign help in his 2020 re-election efforts, withholding official acts from the government of Ukraine in order to coerce and secure political assistance and interference in our domestic affairs.”

And the president “has not given up,” Goldman added. “He and his agents continue to solicit Ukrainian interference in our election, causing an imminent threat to our elections and our national security.”

Barry Berke, a lawyer for Judiciary Committee Democrats, urged lawmakers on the panel to consider their place in history as they weigh whether to support impeachment.

“My son, our children, our grandchildren, they will study this moment in history. They will read all of your remarks, they will learn about all of your actions,” Berke said. “That is a reason for us to have a fair debate about what the undisputed facts show, to recognize that it is wrong, it is very wrong, and it cannot happen again with this president or any president.”

GOP dismisses ‘charade’

Republicans’ witness, staff attorney Steven Castor, portrayed Democrats’ case as “baloney.”

Trump’s conduct “does not” fit the definition of an impeachable high crime or misdemeanor, Castor said. “The record in the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry does not show that President Trump abused the power of his office or obstructed Congress.”

Democrats, Castor added, “have been searching for a set of facts on which to impeach President Trump since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.”

Much of Monday’s hearing was acrimonious, as Republican lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee decried the proceedings as biased, unfair and rushed. Republicans interjected several times to criticize the process. At the start of the hearing, a protester disrupted the hearing to accuse Nadler of “treason.”

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, called the hearing a “charade.”

Democrats hadn’t shown evidence of a crime, he said, deriding Pelosi for pushing her colleagues to draft articles of impeachment after holding just one Judiciary Committee hearing last week. That hearing followed a series of private and public hearings in the Intelligence Committee.

“They can’t get over the fact [that] Donald Trump is president of the United States and they don’t have a candidate that they think can beat him,” Collins said. “It’s all political.”

‘Pounding the table’

House Democrats, meanwhile, dismissed GOP objections as a distraction.  Read more