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White House tells Dems it won’t cooperate with Judiciary impeachment hearings
Top lawyer tells Congress to end proceedings

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone indicated the White House would not participate. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House Counsel Pat Cipollone signaled to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler Friday that President Donald Trump will not have his attorneys take part in his panel’s remaining impeachment hearings.

“As you know, your impeachment inquiry is completely baseless and has violated basic principles of due process and fundamental fairness,” he wrote in a brief letter that never states the White House will not participate but makes Trump’s feeling about the probe clear.

N.C. Rep. George Holding retiring, cites redistricting as factor
Holding’s district became more Democratic under the redrawn boundaries

Rep. George Holding, R-N.C., speaks as the House Ways and Means Committee marks up tax overhaul legislation in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. George Holding announced Friday that he will not run for Congress again in 2020 in his own district or a neighboring one. The North Carolina Republican’s district became more Democratic on a new congressional map.

Holding’s decision comes after he said earlier this week that he would not run in a district that he could not win and that he would not challenge a sitting Republican in a neighboring, and more favorable, district.

Congress frets over program to streamline Pentagon procurement
Some worry that companies won’t spend own money on research, may not compete for important programs

Some in Congress worry that, without assurances of a payoff in production, industry will not spend its own money on research work and some companies may not even compete for some important programs, denying the Pentagon access to certain talent. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Four years ago, Section 804 of the defense authorization law freed certain Pentagon programs from the usual acquisition rules, from documenting why a program is needed to how much Pentagon experts who do not work for the same armed service think it will cost.

But now virtually every congressional panel, including both authorizers and appropriators, has expressed in legislation or in reports some degree of concern about how these programs to develop new missiles, satellites, helicopters and combat vehicles are being implemented.

Train safety technology hasn't quite reached the station
Fatalities add up as cost and complexity delay full implementation of 'positive train control' system

Rescue crews and investigators inspect the site of a May 2015 Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia . (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

After years of delays, a railroad safety system that federal regulators say could have prevented some 300 deaths since 1969 is finally close to full implementation — but large gaps remain, with commuter railroads using the system on fewer than half of the tracks required by December 2020.

Overall, the news for supporters of the so-called positive train control system is promising — 92 percent of the 58,000 track miles required to implement the safety system have it installed, according the Federal Railroad Administration, which is overseeing compliance with the law. 

McCarthy says he has no problem with Nunes’ calls with Giuliani, Parnas
‘There’s nothing wrong that Devin has done,’ House Republican leader says

Intelligence Committee ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., center, is pictured between Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and minority counsel Steve Castor, right at the panel’s Nov. 19 impeachment inquiry hearing. A Democratic report summarizing evidence compiled in the inquiry revealed call logs showing Nunes had contact with Trump associates who are the center of the inquiry. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters that he has no problem with Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes’ contact with key players involved in the Ukraine scandal.

“There’s nothing wrong that Devin has done except once again to get accused of something,” McCarthy said of his fellow California Republican.

Johnny Isakson farewell highlights challenges in Georgia Senate race
Political reality may make it difficult for his GOP successor to follow his bipartisan lead

Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson walks to the Senate floor Tuesday to deliver his farewell address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican and Democratic senators took a break from their predictably partisan conference lunches Tuesday afternoon for a bipartisan barbecue honoring Sen. Johnny Isakson.

The outpouring of tributes made clear the Georgia Republican’s successor will have big shoes to fill, and the political reality is that financial executive Kelly Loeffler, whom Georgia GOP Gov. Brian Kemp will announce Wednesday as Isakson’s replacement, might not have an easy time following his bipartisan lead.

Senate panel approves Trump's FDA nominee
Senators ask questions about the FDA's plans for regulating e-cigarettes

Stephen Hahn, nominee to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Nov. 20. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Senate panel approved President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration amid questions from both parties about the agency’s plans for regulating flavored e-cigarettes.

The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 18-5 to advance to the Senate floor the nomination of medical executive and doctor Stephen Hahn.

Senator talks about personal experience with CBD oil
Cannabidiol oil ‘doesn't work’ for Sen. Pat Roberts‘ ‘football knees’

Stephen Hahn, nominee to be commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, at his Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee confirmation hearing Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Federal regulation of CBD products briefly became the focus of a Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday, as senators questioned Trump’s nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration. One lawmaker described his own experience with the unregulated market for the hemp-derived product.

“I have football knees” Sen. Pat Roberts told Stephen Hahn, the nominee, before describing his “personal interest” in cannabidiol regulations.

Elise Stefanik’s rise tests new GOP fundraising platform WinRed
After initial concerns, Stefanik has been using WinRed to capitalize on newfound fame

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., has been in the spotlight as one of the Republicans’ strongest questioners during impeachment hearings. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

On Fox News Thursday night, Rep. Elise Stefanik made sure to tell viewers about a website where they could “step up” and donate to her campaign. After her appearance, the New York Republican announced she raised a staggering $500,000 in less than two hours.

Stefanik’s fundraising push is an early test of whether House Republicans, using a new online fundraising platform Stefanik once questioned, can capitalize on national attention to bring in campaign cash.

House Republicans overlook oversight in Trump defense
Some experts view Republican questions at impeachment proceedings as a betrayal of Congress’ constitutional role

Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan questions Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union, on Wednesday as House Intelligence ranking member Devin Nunes looks on. Both have asked questions that directly or indirectly sought information on the identify of the whistleblower. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Tactics that House Republicans have used during the ongoing impeachment hearings to defend President Donald Trump’s interests come at a cost to Congress’ constitutional role as a check on the president, some congressional watchers warn.

Republicans clearly have a duty to test the credibility and potential bias of witnesses at the House Intelligence Committee and to vigorously object to what they see as an unfair and overly partisan process.