Party-Line Votes Set Up Trump Acquittal Vote This Week

WASHINGTON — Senate votes to block witnesses from being called in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump have set up a Wednesday afternoon session in which the Republican-majority body intends to acquit the president of both charges.

But before that, the trial is set to resume Monday at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time to allow House managers and the president’s legal team to make closing arguments. Each side has two hours to present its case. Senators can set up speeches explaining their votes before the official vote is held Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Alabama senators voted along party lines, as expected, on whether to allow witnesses to be called in the trial.

Friday, the Senate on a 49-51 vote defeated a motion to allow votes on subpoenas for witnesses and documents.

The only senators breaking party ranks were Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Mitt Romney of Utah, who voted with Democrats in favor of issuing subpoenas. The motion did not name potential witnesses. Trump defenders said the Senate should make its decision on removing him from office based on evidence submitted by the House.

Representing the House, Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said: “The facts will come out. In all of their horror, they will come out. … The documents the president has been hiding will come out. The witnesses the president has been concealing will tell their stories. And we will be asked why we did not want to hear that information when we had the chance, when we could consider its relevance and importance in making this most momentous decision.”

White House deputy counsel Patrick Philbin said: “The Senate is not here to do the investigatory work the House did not do. The reaction of this body should be to reject the articles of impeachment, not to condone and put its imprimatur on the way the proceedings were handled in the House and not to prolong matters further to redo work the House failed to do by not seeking evidence and not doing a fair and legitimate process.”

Democratic Sen. Doug Jones voted to allow motions to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby voted against the idea.

Later the same day, Republicans in the Senate voted to kill a Democratic motion to subpoena John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, to testify. The motion against allowing Bolton’s subpoena passed also on a 51-49 voted.

Democrats said they wanted Bolton to testify about topics including his reported conversations with the president about Trump’s solicitation of personal political favors from Ukrainian officials in return for his release of nearly $400 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

Shelby voted for the motion to kill a request to subpoena Bolton. Jones voted against it.

In other action, here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Jan. 31.


Expanding Consumer Rights in Credit Reports:

Voting 221 for and 189 against, the House on Jan. 29 passed a bill (HR 3621) that would require firms such as Equifax, Experian and Trans Union to adopt certain consumer-friendly procedures in judging the creditworthiness of the hundreds of millions of Americans in their portfolios. Overseen by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the bill would prohibit firms from reporting on debt incurred for life-saving medical treatments; delay for one year credit reporting on all other forms of medical debt; reduce from seven to four years the period for retaining adverse information in credit reports; reduce from 10 to seven years the deadline for expunging bankruptcy information; and prohibit most employers from basing workplace decisions on credit reports unless they are required by law to do so.

Addressing student debt, the bill would enable borrowers who are delinquent or have defaulted on a private-sector education loan to repair their credit by making at least nine of 10 consecutive monthly payments on the loan on time. Once the loan is back on track, credit agencies would have to remove the episode from the borrower’s history. Military personnel deployed to combat or persons victimized by natural disasters during the 10 months could suspend and then resume payments without facing consequences.

Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, said: “The current credit-reporting system is rigged in favor of the credit reporting agencies, plain and simple. They have all the power. They are accountable to no one. Ordinary American consumers are not their customers but their products.”

Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said the bill “prevents employers from knowing the creditworthiness of employees,” creating a situation “in which employees who are in significant debt could be targets of bribes or extortion or perhaps take money that is owed to other people.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.


Voting yes: Terri Sewell, D-7

Voting no: Martha Roby, R-2, Mike Rogers, R-3, Robert Aderholt, R-4, Mo Brooks, R-5, Gary Palmer, R-6 

Not voting: Bradley Byrne, R-1

Defining Models for Credit Scores:

Voting 201 for and 208 against, the House on Jan. 29 defeated a Republican motion that sought to prohibit credit reports compiled under the terms of HR 3621 (above) from using models that factor in the individual’s “political opinions, religious expression or other expression protected by the First Amendment.” The amendment would forbid the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from requiring such models even though the agency has no plans to do so.

French Hill, R-Ark., said the consumer bureau “has too much power, and we should make sure that Americans do not lose access to credit based on the decisions of an unaccountable organization” with a “history of overstepping its bounds.”

Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, said Republicans failed to reform abuses by credit-reporting firms when they controlled the House. “There is a new Democratic majority in this Congress, and we are acting to fix this broken system,” she said.

A yes vote was to adopt the motion.


Voting yes: Roby, Rogers, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer 

Voting no: Sewell

Not voting: Byrne 

Asserting Congressional Control Over War With Iran:

Voting 228 for and 175 against, the House on Jan. 30 adopted an amendment to HR 550 that would deny funding of any U.S. military action against Iran or its proxy forces that lacks congressional authorization, except when there is an imminent threat to the United States, its armed forces or its territories. The measure asserts the sole constitutional power of Congress to declare war as spelled out in the 1973 War Powers Resolution. The president would have to notify Congress within 48 hours if he marshals the U.S. military against Iran, then withdraw the force within a specified period unless Congress votes to authorize the action.

Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, said Trump “wants sole control over whether our nation is plunged into a war with Iran. Today we say, ‘No Mr. President, you are not yet the tyrant that you wish to become. You defied military judgment by rejecting the Iran nuclear agreement. You abruptly abandoned our Kurdish allies and you’ve taken us to the brink of war with an assassination of a foreign leader without any imminent threat demonstrated.’ We reject his reckless and impulsive escalation, the endless bloodshed and the lack of vision beyond promoting his own selfish interests.”

Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said the measure “would call into question whether the president could defend our closest ally in the Middle East – Israel – without first getting approval from 535 members of the House and Senate. It would call into question whether he could protect our diplomats in Iraq” and “defend against Iran’s attacks on international shipping. As the U.S. faces adversaries, it is absolutely critical that the president retains the flexibility to act swiftly and decisively when our interests or forces are threatened.”

A yes vote was to amend the bill and send it to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Roby, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Not voting: Byrne, Rogers

Repealing Iraq War Resolution:

Voting 236 for and 166 against, the House on Jan. 30 adopted an amendment to HR 550 (above) that would repeal the 2002 Iraq war resolution, which has been cited as the legal basis of U.S. military actions in Iraq and numerous other global theaters over the past 18 years, including the recent U.S. assassination at the Baghdad airport of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani. Congress would have six months to update U.S. war authority, and until it does so, the president could immediately deploy forces to protect national security without seeking congressional approval. Opponents said the lapse would endanger U.S. troops and increase American exposure to terrorist attacks.

Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said: “Taxpayer dollars have been shoveled overseas. Policies have changed from one administration to the next. But too often, Congress remained silent because we feared the political risk of a vote.”

Scott Perry, R-Pa., said: “Many of us agree, the (war authority) needs to be updated. We want to do this correctly, but this isn’t the correct way to do it, and we should not abandon our servicemembers in combat.”

A yes vote was to amend the bill and send it to the Senate.


Voting yes: Sewell

Voting no: Roby, Aderholt, Brooks, Palmer

Not voting: Byrne, Rogers


The House will take up disaster relief for Puerto Rico and a bill strengthening worker rights to organize and bargain collectively during the week of Feb. 3.