Road Ahead: Impeachment suspense drowns out government funding debate

Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Seldom does an imminent deadline to avoid a government shutdown fly under the radar, but that might happen this week with most eyes on impeachment hearings in the House.

Congress will need to pass another continuing resolution to keep the government funded past Thursday, as leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations panels look to finalize subcommittee allocations for the delayed fiscal 2020 bills, in conjunction with top leadership and representatives from the administration.

On Friday, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer formally announced plans for a CR running through Dec. 20.

While the stopgap spending will headline House and Senate floor action, the middle of the week will be jampacked with impeachment hearings at the House Intelligence Committee, as Democrats continue their attempts to convince the American public that President Donald Trump tried to bribe Ukraine to open investigations into his political rivals by withholding U.S. security assistance and a White House meeting with new Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Eight witnesses whom the committee previously interviewed in closed-door depositions are scheduled to testify in a series of open sessions Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Three of those witnesses were ones Republicans requested be called for the public hearings.

Tuesday's hearings feature a morning session with Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European affairs at the National Security Council. Democrats want Vindman to testify about why he went to White House lawyers with concerns after listening to Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy. Williams was also on the call.


That afternoon, the committee will hear from two witnesses requested by the Republicans: Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, the former senior NSC director for Europe and Russia policy.

Republicans had requested that Morrison be put on the same panel as Vindman, who had worked under Morrison, but Democrats have them testifying at different times Tuesday.

The GOP wants Morrison to testify because he's one of the few witnesses who was on Trump's July 25 call with Zelenskiy and was involved in discussions about the security assistance.

Republicans say Volker has "firsthand knowledge" about Ukraine matters being reviewed in the probe, including discussions with Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Gordon Sondland, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union.


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