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Campus Notebook: Lawmakers to Prague, staff to Fargo, plus million-dollar trades
Lawmaker travel, stock trades, ethics complaints and other updates

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Campus notebook this week highlights where a former top law enforcement official went after he retired from the Capitol Police, international travel by members, domestic travel of staffers and substantial stock trades.

Justices debate overtaking Congress on LGBTQ protections
Justice Stephen Breyer called the role of Congress ‘the elephant in the room’ during arguments on three cases

Protesters block the street in front of the Supreme Court as it hears arguments on whether gay and transgender people are covered by a federal law barring employment discrimination on the basis of sex on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Supreme Court grappled Tuesday with whether and how far to get in front of Congress in determining whether a 55-year-old civil rights law covers discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Justice Stephen Breyer called the role of Congress “the elephant in the room” during arguments on three cases about how to apply Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in a country that has changed drastically since its initial passage. The cases hinge on if the court decides whether discrimination “on the basis of sex” includes whether the person is attracted to the same gender or identifies as the opposite of what they were assigned at birth.

Congressional inaction drives LGBT rights case at Supreme Court
Court to hear arguments over whether protections based on ‘sex’ apply to gay, lesbian and transgender workers

A case before the Supreme Court on Tuesday could have sweeping social implications since 28 states have no express protections for LGBT employee rights. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court confronts a major civil rights issue Tuesday over how broadly the justices should read the word “sex” in a 55-year-old anti-discrimination law — and a key aspect is Congress’ current push to clarify that the law covers LGBT individuals.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits private companies from discriminating against employees on the basis of “sex,” seen at the time as a historic step for women’s rights.

Supreme Court term to be punctuated by presidential politics
Docket ‘almost guarantees’ court shifting further and faster to the right, expert says

Activists hold up signs at an abortion-rights rally at Supreme Court in Washington to protest new state bans on abortion services on Tuesday May 21, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will confront ideological issues such as immigration and LGBT rights that have sharply divided Congress and the nation in a new term starting Monday that will bring more scrutiny to the justices during a heated presidential campaign season.

In many ways, the nine justices are still settling into a new internal dynamic with two President Donald Trump appointees in as many years. The court had few high-profile cases last term, amid the drama of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation that gripped the nation and solidified the court’s conservative ideological tilt.

House Democrats divided on how much evidence they need to impeach Trump
After unifying around an inquiry, the caucus remains split on actual impeachment

From left, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Mikie Sherrill and Elissa Slotkin are among the Democrats who penned an op-ed saying the president might have committed impeachable offenses. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats finally agreed last week that they are conducting an impeachment inquiry, but as that probe quickly unfolds there are new divisions in the caucus about how much evidence they need to proceed with articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Several Democrats believe the readout of a July 25 phone call of Trump asking Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate a potential 2020 opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son; Trump’s public statements admitting to the request; and a whistleblower complaint alleging White House lawyers and officials tried to “lock down” the call transcript is all the evidence they need to impeach.

Appropriators seek clarity on aircraft inspector qualifications
Lawmakers asked FAA response to findings that safety inspectors lacked training to certify 737 Max pilots

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are seen parked on Boeing property along the Duwamish River near Boeing Field on August 13, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Top Senate appropriators pressed the Federal Aviation Administration chief to respond after a federal investigator found that safety inspectors lacked sufficient training to certify Boeing 737 Max pilots.

Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, asked FAA chief Steve Dickson in a letter Tuesday provide more information about the U.S. Office of Special Counsel’s report and the FAA’s response to it.

Impeachment inquiry likely to move faster than House lawsuits, making some moot
Intelligence Committee may not go to court if administration stonewalls its subpoenas

House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff plans to remain in Washington through part of the break to schedule hearings and witness interviews and potentially prepare subpoenas. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats expect their impeachment inquiry to outpace ongoing court cases that were once seen as critical to their investigations into President Donald Trump.

That means some of those lawsuits — teed up as major separation-of-powers battles between the House and the Trump administration — could fizzle out or end up being dropped.

US ambassador with coal ties arrives as UN begins climate talks
Craft could mold process by which the U.S. gets out of the Paris climate agreement

Kelly Craft attends her Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing in June. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As world leaders gathered at the United Nations in New York for a climate change summit Monday, America’s new ambassador to the global body was focused on other business.

“Our warming earth is issuing a chilling cry: stop,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in his opening remarks. Germany announced climate mitigation pledges. Pope Francis delivered a call to action in a video message. French President Emmanuel Macron praised young people for demanding political action to rein in emissions.

Democrats say they want to prioritize legislation over impeachment. Here’s their chance
Thursday release of prescription drug pricing bill provides opportunity for messaging shift

House Democratic Caucus Vice Chairwoman Katherine M. Clark and Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries say House Democrats are most successful in communicating their policy messages directly to constituents in their districts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leaders’ plan to release a top-priority prescription drug pricing bill on Thursday presents the caucus with an opportunity to refocus its messaging on legislating over investigating — one that many Democrats say is desperately needed.

Moderate Democrats in particular are concerned that the caucus’s policy work isn’t breaking through the impeachment cloud that has overshadowed the 116th Congress.

Elizabeth Warren’s K Street overhaul
Plan would prohibit former lawmakers and officials from lobbying, expand ‘cooling-off’ periods and more

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks at the Iowa State Fair in August. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts senator who regularly blasts the lobbying and influence sector, announced a new set of proposals Monday aimed at curbing the revolving door between business and government.

She would prohibit members of Congress and other top officials from ever becoming lobbyists and would expand cooling-off periods to at least two years for lower-level officials.