Democratic Rep. Cicilline to leave Congress in June

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) will leave Congress in June to take over as the president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, his office announced on Tuesday.

“Serving the people of Rhode Island’s First Congressional District has been the honor of my lifetime,” Cicilline, 61, said in a statement. “As President and CEO of one of the largest and oldest community foundations in the nation, I look forward to expanding on the work I have led for nearly thirty years in helping to improve the lives of all Rhode Islanders.”

Cicilline, who has represented Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District since 2011, will officially step down June 1. Cicilline’s staff will continue to operate the district’s Rhode Island and Washington, D.C., offices until a new representative is chosen in a special election, his office said.

“The chance to lead the Rhode Island Foundation was unexpected, but it is an extraordinary opportunity to have an even more direct and meaningful impact on the lives of residents of our state,” he added.

Cicilline easily sailed to reelection in his solidly blue Rhode Island district in November’s midterm elections, securing about 64 percent of the vote.

His decision to leave Congress comes after longtime Rhode Island Rep. James Langevin (D) stepped down from the state’s only other congressional seat last year, after more than 20 years in office. He was replaced by Rep. Seth Magaziner (D) in the state’s first open congressional race since 2010.

A special election for Cicilline’s seat cannot be scheduled until he officially resigns from office, according to The Boston Globe.

Cicilline rose to even greater prominence as one of the Democrats' impeachment managers for former President Trump's second impeachment trial.

Prior to joining Congress, Cicilline spent over a decade in Rhode Island politics, getting his start in the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1995. In 2003, he was elected mayor of Providence, becoming was the first openly gay mayor of a state capital city.

Cicilline is currently one of only 13 openly gay, lesbian and bisexual members of Congress, according to the Pew Research Center, and is a co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus.

In November, Cicilline briefly made a move for House Democratic leadership, launching a last-minute bid for the assistant leader position against veteran Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.). However, Cicilline ultimately stepped aside.

Updated at 10:39 a.m.

Six takeaways from House committee assignments so far

As members of the House continue to receive committee assignments for the new Congress, Republicans are shaking up several panels with their newly obtained majority.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has doubled down on promises to block certain Democrats from top panels, while several Republicans who played key roles in his long, drawn-out fight for Speaker have found their way onto prominent committees.

More committee assignments remain to be handed out, but here are the six main takeaways so far:

Greene, Gosar back on committees

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., joined at left by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) were placed back on committees on Tuesday, after having their committee assignments stripped in 2021.

Both Greene and Gosar were selected to sit on the Oversight and Accountability Committee, while Greene was also chosen to serve on the Homeland Security Committee and Gosar was picked to sit on the Natural Resources Committee.

Greene, who had reportedly lobbied for the spot on the Oversight committee, was a key supporter of McCarthy throughout his bid for Speaker. She was stripped of her committee assignments in February 2021, just one month after joining Congress, for espousing conspiracy theories and encouraging violence against Democratic officials on social media.

Gosar was censured and removed from his committees in November 2021, after he posted an anime-style video that depicted him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and engaging in a sword fight with President Biden.

McCarthy sparks fresh anger with vow to keep Omar off Foreign Affairs

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) speaks to reporters during a break in a House Democratic caucus meeting and leadership election on Wednesday, November 30, 2022 for the 118th session of Congress.

McCarthy has recently doubled down on his previous vows to keep Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) off the Foreign Affairs Committee, sparking fresh anger among Democrats and Muslim advocacy groups.

Omar, one of three Muslim members of Congress, has been critical of the Israeli government and its supporters, leading to accusations of antisemitism.

“Last year, I promised that when I became Speaker, I would remove Rep. Ilhan Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee based on her repeated anti-semitic and anti-American remarks,” McCarthy said in a tweet in November. “I'm keeping that promise.”

McCarthy reportedly told the GOP conference last week that he still plans to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Robert McCaw, the government affairs department director for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, called the decision to reinstate Greene and Gosar while threatening to remove Omar “absolute insanity and hypocrisy” in a statement on Wednesday. 

“Racism and Islamophobia would be the only explanation for this hypocritical double-standard,” McCaw said.

While McCarthy has promised to block Omar’s appointment, he cannot do so alone. In order to remove Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee, House Republicans would have to bring the matter to a vote on the House floor.

Schiff, Swalwell future on Intel panel still in peril

In this May 28, 2019 file photo, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., speak with members of the media on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Reps. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell’s (D-Calif.) futures on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence also remain in peril, as McCarthy has similarly promised to boot both California Democrats from the powerful panel.

McCarthy has cited accusations that Schiff, the former chair of the Intelligence Committee, lied to the public about the extent of former President Trump’s ties to Russia during his 2016 campaign and exaggerated the central assertion of Trump’s first impeachment.

The first impeachment, which Schiff led, accused Trump of pressuring Ukrainian officials to investigate his political rivals by threatening to withhold aid.

In Swalwell’s case, McCarthy has pointed to his ties to an alleged Chinese spy who helped fundraise for the congressman in 2014. However, Swalwell reportedly cut ties with the individual after the FBI informed him of her identity.

Swalwell was also an impeachment manager for Trump’s second impeachment over his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Schiff’s and Swalwell’s positions on the Intelligence Committee are in a particularly precarious state, given that McCarthy can unilaterally reject their appointments without bringing a resolution to the House floor for a vote. 

Santos gets committee assignments

George Santos

Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., departs after attending a House GOP conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.), the embattled first-term lawmaker who has admitted to lying about his background on the campaign trail, was seated on the Small Business Committee and Science, Space and Technology Committee on Tuesday.

McCarthy had confirmed last week that Santos would be seated on committees, even as several members of the Republican conference called for his resignation.

“I try to stick by the Constitution. The voters elected him to serve. If there is a concern, and he has to go through the Ethics [Committee], let him move through that,” McCarthy told reporters.

Santos is facing investigations on multiple fronts, as his claims about his background continue to unravel. The Nassau County district attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York have both launched probes into the New York Republican, while Brazilian authorities reopened a fraud case against Santos from 2008.

Complaints have also been filed with the House Ethics Committee and Federal Election Commission over allegations that Santos falsified his financial disclosures and violated campaign finance laws.

McCarthy detractors get seats on Financial Services, Appropriations panels

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Republican conference meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) addresses reporters after a closed-door House Republican conference meeting on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Several Republican members who opposed McCarthy’s bid for Speaker, drawing out the fight over a historic four days and 15 ballots, received seats on top House panels last week.

Of the 20 members of the anti-McCarthy group, Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.) were both appointed to the Financial Services Committee, while Reps. Michael Cloud (R-Texas) and Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) found their way on to the Appropriations Committee. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) also maintained his spot on the Financial Services Committee.

While GOP leadership has said that no members were promised committee assignments as part of its negotiations during the Speaker fight, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) noted last week that they did agree to ensure that “committees are represented by a whole swath of our membership.”

This has largely translated into providing hard-line conservatives with more spots on prominent committees. 

Foxx gets waiver to lead Education panel

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing examining the policies and priorities of the Department of Labor on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) at a House Education and Labor Committee hearing examining the policies and priorities of the Department of Labor on Tuesday, June 14, 2022.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) was selected to chair the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, after receiving a waiver from GOP leadership.

House GOP rules only permit members to serve as the head of a committee for three consecutive terms. As Foxx is beginning her fourth term as the top Republican on the education panel, she required a waiver to serve as chair.

McCarthy says he will look at expunging Trump impeachment

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Thursday that he would consider expunging one or both of former President Trump’s impeachments.

“I would understand why members would want to bring that forward,” McCarthy said in response to a question at a press conference on Thursday, before listing off several other key priorities for House Republicans. 

“But I understand why individuals want to do it, and we’d look at it,” he added.

In the last Congress, a group of more than 30 House Republicans led by Rep. Markwayne Mullin (Okla.) put forward a resolution to expunge Trump’s impeachment in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. The resolution was supported by the fourth-ranking Republican in the House, Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (N.Y.).

A smaller group, again led by Mullin, also introduced a resolution to expunge Trump’s December 2019 impeachment for allegedly attempting to withhold military aid from Ukraine in an effort to pressure the country to investigate the business dealings of President Biden’s son Hunter Biden.

The Senate ultimately acquitted Trump in both impeachments, after failing to reach the two-thirds majority required to convict him.

Five dramatic, colorful moments from McCarthy’s Speakership fight

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was elected Speaker of the House early Saturday morning, after weeks of haggling and a historic 15 roll call votes on the floor.

The lengthy Speakership fight — the first in a century to go past one ballot — played out largely in front of the public, as members repeatedly voted and sometimes negotiated on the floor of the House before C-SPAN’s cameras.

The battle for Speaker, particularly its culmination on Friday night and Saturday morning, produced a number of memorable moments. Here are five of the most dramatic and colorful:

Republicans rush back to Washington

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) embraces Rep.-elect Wesley Hunt (R-Texas)

Two Republican congressmen — Reps. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and Wesley Hunt (R-Texas) — rushed back to the Capitol on Friday to vote for McCarthy.

Buck had said he would return for Friday evening votes after being gone during the day for a “non-emergency medical procedure” he had to undergo back in his home state.

But Hunt had to change his plans. He returned home to Texas Friday morning to spend time with his wife and newborn son, who was born prematurely on Monday and spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Willie needs his father and Emily needs her husband,” Hunt said in a tweet. “Today, I’ll be returning home to hold my son and be at my wife’s side. It’s my intention to get back into the fight as soon as possible.”

Both were McCarthy supporters and McCarthy's Speaker math meant he needed both of their votes to prevail.

Hunt flew back to Washington later Friday and was in the chamber in time to vote the first time his name was called, while Buck arrived in time to vote when they circled back to his name.

Both received a round of applause from their Republican colleagues.

Lawmaker physically restrained by colleague

Rep. Michael D. Rogers (R-Ala.) is taken away form Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)

Perhaps the more tense — and chaotic — moment of the night came after McCarthy lost his 14th Speakership vote, one Republicans were confident would be their last.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was among the last lawmakers to vote and because only one of the other five holdout Republicans — Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) — had changed their vote to "present," a "present" vote from Gaetz wouldn't be enough to put McCarthy over the finish. McCarthy needed an affirmative vote from the Florida Republican.

Gaetz voted "present."

With tensions rising, a heated argument broke out between Gaetz and several McCarthy backers and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) appeared to take a step toward Gaetz before he was physically pulled back by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), eliciting gasps in the chamber.

Greene gets Trump on the line

As chaos ensued between then 14th and 15th votes, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) had President Trump on the phone in an effort to whip the final votes for McCarthy.

A widely-circulated photo from Friday night showed Greene holding up her phone to Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.), one the last six Republican holdouts. Rosendale appeared to refuse the phone call, whose caller ID read “DT.”

Greene later confirmed to The Hill that the phone call was in fact from Trump. 

“It was the perfect phone call,” she added in a post on Twitter, a reference to Trump's comment about the phone call at the center of his first impeachment.

Trump also reportedly called other Republican holdouts on behalf of McCarthy and McCarthy credited Trump for helping him win the 15th ballot.

Republicans rush to stay in session after McCarthy apparently locks down votes

House Republicans rush to change their vote to adjourn

With Republicans seemingly at an impasse after a 14th failed vote, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) moved to adjourn the House until Monday. 

The motion seemed to have enough GOP support to pass, but then McCarthy and other Republicans rushed to the dais to their change votes and stay in session.

McCarthy had seemingly locked down the votes he needed.

Several Republican lawmakers chanted “one more time” in anticipation of what would be the 15th and final ballot. With all six Republican holdouts changing their vote to "present," McCarthy was able to secure the Speakership with 216 votes just after midnight on Saturday.  

Democrats troll their Republican colleagues

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.)

As Republican infighting continued throughout the week, Democrats watched with a level of amusement, frequently mocking their GOP counterparts.

Several Democratic members brought out buckets of popcorn amid the drawn-out process.

"We are breaking the popcorn out in the Dem Caucus till the Republicans get their act together," Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said in a Twitter post on Tuesday, accompanied by a picture of large bucket of popcorn.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) was seen during Friday's votes sitting and reading “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F---” by Mark Manson.

After McCarthy clinched the Speakership on Saturday morning, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) also appeared to take a jab at the Republican conference, calling it an honor to “finally” welcome members to the 118th Congress.

Cheney: ‘Any interaction’ Trump has with Jan. 6 committee will be under oath, subject to perjury penalties

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) emphasized on Saturday that “any interaction” former President Trump has with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol will be “under oath and subject to penalties of perjury.”

Cheney, who serves as the vice chair of the committee, has remained tight-lipped about many aspects of the panel’s investigation into the Jan. 6 riot, as have her fellow committee members.

In a Saturday interview with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, Cheney declined to specifically say whether the panel would like to hear from the former president, instead noting that if it does he will be required to tell the truth.

Cheney, a prominent Trump critic, did not otherwise hold back in speaking against the former president, however, calling him “fundamentally destructive” for the Republican Party. The congresswoman pointed to responses from her fellow members of the GOP to presidential records being recovered from the former president's Mar-a-Lago home as the latest example.

“You look at how many senior Republicans are going through contortions to try to defend the fact that the former president had stored in a desk drawer apparently, in an unsecure storage room, in a resort … documents that had the highest classification markings,” Cheney told Smith at the Tribune’s annual festival.

Despite her views on the former president, Cheney told Smith she does not regret voting against Trump’s first impeachment based on the evidence. She also noted that those proceedings have informed her current work on the Jan. 6 Committee.

“They would have had more Republican votes if they had enforced their subpoenas, and that is certainly a lesson that we have taken into [the] Jan. 6 Select Committee’s work,” Cheney said.

The Jan. 6 Committee has taken a strong stance on enforcing its subpoenas, referring several Trump allies for criminal contempt of Congress.

Cheney said she would "do everything I can" to ensure Trump is not the Republican nominee for president in 2024.

"And if he is the nominee," she added, "I won’t be a Republican.”