National News Update: December 18, 2019

It was a HUGE week in politics, from impeachment proceedings to trillion dollar deals. Read here to get the update:

President Trump Impeached on Two Separate Articles

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Congressman Jerrold Naddler (D-NY), approved two separate articles of impeachment against President Trump: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.  These articles come after a months long investigation of President Trump relating to his July phone call with the Ukrainian president. This investigation was carried out by the Democratic controlled House and featured fierce opposition by House Republicans.  

The passage of these articles by the Judiciary Committee brought the articles to a floor vote (a vote by all members of the house), which took place on December 18.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) allotted six hours for debate prior to the vote.  These hours were filled with fierce and often personal complaints and insults by some Republicans toward Democrats.  Both articles of impeachment passed around 8:30 p.m., largely on party lines.  

What happens next became uncertain in the hours following the two votes.  Most likely, the articles will be passed to the Senate for a trial in early January, but Speaker Pelosi has hinted that the articles might not be passed along unless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) agrees to a “fair trial.”

The Ledger will continue to follow this story.

Update on DOJ Watchdog Report

Outrage towards the Attorney General and President Trump within the intelligence committee has grown following the release of the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report which concluded the FBI had sufficient evidence to open an investigation in the campaign of then presidential candidate, Donald Trump.  The president and Attorney General William Barr have sharply criticized the FBI throughout last week, often falling back to personal insults.  

The Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, spent hours testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Horowitz emphasized the fact the investigation was warranted, but stated that some of the conduct within the FBI regarding this investigation was not proper.

Former FBI and CIA Director William Webster and multiple other intelligence officials, past and present, have rebuked the president and Attorney General responses to the report in the past week.  The officials’ protest is largely in response to comments made by the president and Attorney General criticizing the FBI and the intelligence committee; the president calling some FBI agents and administration “scum” at a recent rally.


Rep. Jeff Van Drew of NJ: Party Switch

New Jersey freshman congressman Jeff Van Drew of the second congressional district has announced that he will be resigning from the democratic party after meeting with the president Friday.  He will now join the Republican party, largely as a result of his opposition to impeachment.  

This party switch has resulted in the resignation of several key members of Van Drew’s staff.  His communications director and legislative director, along with three other staffers announced their resignation in an open letter.  Van Drew is from a highly competitive district in New Jersey. His party switch is expected by many political analysts to help solidify a reelection of this freshman congressman. 


Congress Accepts 1.3 Trillion Dollar Budget Deal

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Congress is ready to blow the cap on the federal debt cap.

Congressional negotiators have accepted a 1.3 trillion dollar budget deal in the face of Friday’s budget deadline.  This deal will prevent another government shutdown and is supported by both sides of the aisle and the White House.  

The deal features many new programs and grants for the coming fiscal year.  These new public policies certainly come at a price. They are expected to explode the deficit beyond the previous federal debt cap which was suspended over the summer.

The deal features more funding for the EPA, the Defense Department, federal gun violence research, and election security.  The budget also includes a provision for raising the national age to purchase tobacco to 21.

The budget leaves out much of the funding for President Trump’s infamous border wall.  The president, who famously promised that Mexico would pay for this wall, sought upwards of eight billion dollars from the federal budget for its construction.  This was vehemently opposed by House Democrats and was not included in the deal.