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Westlake Legal Group > Pelosi, Nancy

Judiciary Panel Advances Impeachment Inquiry of Trump as Doubts Linger

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday took its first vote to press forward with an impeachment investigation of President Trump, putting aside internal divisions over the process in a bid to strengthen its hand in uncovering crucial facts in the inquiry.

The measure, which was approved on Thursday morning, laid out procedures to govern the investigation and granted due process to the president. But as lawmakers began debating it early Thursday morning, the most pressing disagreement was not over specific authorities, but over whether the panel was actually engaged in an impeachment inquiry at all.

Republicans argued that no matter what Democrats on the panel contended, they simply had not crossed that threshold.

“As we say in Texas, this is fixing to be an impeachment,” said Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas. “It’s not now, but it’s fixing to be.”

Republicans were not the only ones with doubts. There is significant lingering confusion surrounding the inquiry both among moderate lawmakers who are wary of impeachment and other rank-and-file Democrats eager to begin the process who have been frustrated with the mixed signals sent by House leaders about it.

An exasperated Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, sought to push past the debate as he opened Thursday’s hearing, insisting that semantics aside, his committee was investigating whether to impeach Mr. Trump for possible obstruction of justice, abuse of power and corruption.

“This committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump,” Mr. Nadler said. “Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature.”

The questions go beyond mere semantics, however. Senior Democrats and the lawyers advising them have a strong interest in demonstrating that the House is, in fact, pursuing an impeachment inquiry, which maximizes their leverage in lawsuits to compel the cooperation of witnesses and secure grand jury testimony. At the same time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has toiled to avoid the issue, worrying that the process would be divisive, ultimately fail to result in Mr. Trump’s removal and could potentially cost Democrats in conservative-leaning districts their jobs.

The conflicting imperatives have led to an unusual process in which the Judiciary panel is going forward with what it calls an impeachment investigation without a vote of the full House.

Republicans repeatedly pointed out on Thursday that the panel had not sought or received a House vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry, as had been the case in the two modern presidential impeachments. Without it, they argued, the panel was still engaged in regular oversight. And some lawmakers suggested that the only reason Democrats had not pursued such a vote was that they lacked the necessary support in their caucus to clear the floor.

“The Judiciary Committee has become a giant Instagram filter,” said Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee, “to make it appear that something’s happening that is not.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160662036_8f23bb39-b079-481a-9c8c-a65c60c80451-articleLarge Judiciary Panel Advances Impeachment Inquiry of Trump as Doubts Linger United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Pelosi, Nancy Nadler, Jerrold impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Courts and the Judiciary

“As we say in Texas, this is fixing to be an impeachment,” said Representative Louie Gohmert, left, Republican of Texas. “It’s not now, but it’s fixing to be.”CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

At other points, though, they appeared to accept that an impeachment inquiry was underway in order to suggest changes to the resolution and charge that the Democrats were pursuing the president out of political spite.

Republicans were correct about the precedent, but Democrats argue no vote is actually necessary. Few rules govern the impeachment process, and they argue that the committee need only be considering impeachment articles to stand up an inquiry of that name.

Still, part of the confusion stems from the fact that top Democratic leaders — including Ms. Pelosi — have declined to use those shorthand terms, even as Ms. Pelosi has approved the investigative steps themselves. Instead, she has stressed the investigative work of six House committees and said only that impeachment is one possible recourse for its findings.

Things were muddled further on Wednesday when the second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that the committee was decidedly not engaged in an impeachment investigation then later had to backtrack in a written statement. That statement echoed language Mr. Nadler has used in court but avoided the term impeachment investigation or inquiry.

The resolution itself under consideration on Thursday defines four authorities for the inquiry.

It would allow Mr. Nadler to designate any hearing of the full Judiciary Committee or its subcommittees as part of the investigation, a measure Democrats believe could help expedite their work by spreading it across the smaller, nimbler panels.

Under the new procedures, staff attorneys would be afforded time at each hearing to directly question witnesses. Democratic and Republican lawyers would each be given 30-minute blocks after lawmakers had exhausted their own questioning time.

The resolution also includes rules for how information collected by the committee — including classified material and grand jury secrets — will be handled. Most information will be treated as private by default, unless the chairman designates otherwise.

And for the first time, the committee’s vote would grant Mr. Trump and his legal team formal due process, by allowing his lawyers to respond to committee proceedings in writing in real time.

“No matter how we may disagree with him, President Trump is entitled to respond to the evidence in this way,” Mr. Nadler said.

But Republicans pointed out that the language falls well short of the privileges extended to the president’s legal teams in impeachment inquiries of President Richard Nixon and President Bill Clinton, where the defense was allowed to participate in all committee hearings, cross-examine witnesses and recommend witnesses for hearings.

“Not allowing the president’s counsel the same kind of rights as was done in the two previous presidential impeachments that have been put before this committee is a gross denial of due process,” said Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin and a former chairman of the Judiciary panel. “We are the committee that is supposed to stand up and protect the constitutional rights of everybody.”

The committee plans to put the new rules to use on Sept. 17, when Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and an important witness to the special counsel’s obstruction of justice investigation, is scheduled to appear before the committee. Mr. Lewandowski was told to appear under subpoena and has indicated his willingness to come, but the White House could still try to intervene, preventing his testimony like those of past witnesses.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Judiciary Panel Advances Impeachment Inquiry of Trump as Doubts Linger

WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday took its first vote to press forward with an impeachment investigation of President Trump, putting aside internal divisions over the process in a bid to strengthen its hand in uncovering crucial facts in the inquiry.

The measure, which was approved on Thursday morning, laid out procedures to govern the investigation and granted due process to the president. But as lawmakers began debating it early Thursday morning, the most pressing disagreement was not over specific authorities, but over whether the panel was actually engaged in an impeachment inquiry at all.

Republicans argued that no matter what Democrats on the panel contended, they simply had not crossed that threshold.

“As we say in Texas, this is fixing to be an impeachment,” said Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas. “It’s not now, but it’s fixing to be.”

Republicans were not the only ones with doubts. There is significant lingering confusion surrounding the inquiry both among moderate lawmakers who are wary of impeachment and other rank-and-file Democrats eager to begin the process who have been frustrated with the mixed signals sent by House leaders about it.

An exasperated Judiciary Committee chairman, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, sought to push past the debate as he opened Thursday’s hearing, insisting that semantics aside, his committee was investigating whether to impeach Mr. Trump for possible obstruction of justice, abuse of power and corruption.

“This committee is engaged in an investigation that will allow us to determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to President Trump,” Mr. Nadler said. “Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation. There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature.”

The questions go beyond mere semantics, however. Senior Democrats and the lawyers advising them have a strong interest in demonstrating that the House is, in fact, pursuing an impeachment inquiry, which maximizes their leverage in lawsuits to compel the cooperation of witnesses and secure grand jury testimony. At the same time, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, has toiled to avoid the issue, worrying that the process would be divisive, ultimately fail to result in Mr. Trump’s removal and could potentially cost Democrats in conservative-leaning districts their jobs.

The conflicting imperatives have led to an unusual process in which the Judiciary panel is going forward with what it calls an impeachment investigation without a vote of the full House.

Republicans repeatedly pointed out on Thursday that the panel had not sought or received a House vote authorizing an impeachment inquiry, as had been the case in the two modern presidential impeachments. Without it, they argued, the panel was still engaged in regular oversight. And some lawmakers suggested that the only reason Democrats had not pursued such a vote was that they lacked the necessary support in their caucus to clear the floor.

“The Judiciary Committee has become a giant Instagram filter,” said Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the committee, “to make it appear that something’s happening that is not.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160662036_8f23bb39-b079-481a-9c8c-a65c60c80451-articleLarge Judiciary Panel Advances Impeachment Inquiry of Trump as Doubts Linger United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Pelosi, Nancy Nadler, Jerrold impeachment House Committee on the Judiciary Courts and the Judiciary

“As we say in Texas, this is fixing to be an impeachment,” said Representative Louie Gohmert, left, Republican of Texas. “It’s not now, but it’s fixing to be.”CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

At other points, though, they appeared to accept that an impeachment inquiry was underway in order to suggest changes to the resolution and charge that the Democrats were pursuing the president out of political spite.

Republicans were correct about the precedent, but Democrats argue no vote is actually necessary. Few rules govern the impeachment process, and they argue that the committee need only be considering impeachment articles to stand up an inquiry of that name.

Still, part of the confusion stems from the fact that top Democratic leaders — including Ms. Pelosi — have declined to use those shorthand terms, even as Ms. Pelosi has approved the investigative steps themselves. Instead, she has stressed the investigative work of six House committees and said only that impeachment is one possible recourse for its findings.

Things were muddled further on Wednesday when the second-ranking House Democrat, Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland told reporters that the committee was decidedly not engaged in an impeachment investigation then later had to backtrack in a written statement. That statement echoed language Mr. Nadler has used in court but avoided the term impeachment investigation or inquiry.

The resolution itself under consideration on Thursday defines four authorities for the inquiry.

It would allow Mr. Nadler to designate any hearing of the full Judiciary Committee or its subcommittees as part of the investigation, a measure Democrats believe could help expedite their work by spreading it across the smaller, nimbler panels.

Under the new procedures, staff attorneys would be afforded time at each hearing to directly question witnesses. Democratic and Republican lawyers would each be given 30-minute blocks after lawmakers had exhausted their own questioning time.

The resolution also includes rules for how information collected by the committee — including classified material and grand jury secrets — will be handled. Most information will be treated as private by default, unless the chairman designates otherwise.

And for the first time, the committee’s vote would grant Mr. Trump and his legal team formal due process, by allowing his lawyers to respond to committee proceedings in writing in real time.

“No matter how we may disagree with him, President Trump is entitled to respond to the evidence in this way,” Mr. Nadler said.

But Republicans pointed out that the language falls well short of the privileges extended to the president’s legal teams in impeachment inquiries of President Richard Nixon and President Bill Clinton, where the defense was allowed to participate in all committee hearings, cross-examine witnesses and recommend witnesses for hearings.

“Not allowing the president’s counsel the same kind of rights as was done in the two previous presidential impeachments that have been put before this committee is a gross denial of due process,” said Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin and a former chairman of the Judiciary panel. “We are the committee that is supposed to stand up and protect the constitutional rights of everybody.”

The committee plans to put the new rules to use on Sept. 17, when Corey Lewandowski, Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager and an important witness to the special counsel’s obstruction of justice investigation, is scheduled to appear before the committee. Mr. Lewandowski was told to appear under subpoena and has indicated his willingness to come, but the White House could still try to intervene, preventing his testimony like those of past witnesses.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pelosi Energizes Battle to Lower Drug Prices

A draft proposal by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would empower the federal government to negotiate lower prices for hundreds of prescription drugs, not only for Medicare but for the private market as well, injecting new urgency into Washington’s efforts to control the soaring price of pharmaceuticals.

The plan would revive an idea loathed by most congressional Republicans but long embraced by Democrats; President Trump expressed support for it during his 2016 campaign. By the time he hits the campaign trail again next year, Mr. Trump wants to persuade voters that he lowered the cost of prescription drugs — an issue that resonates with Americans of all political persuasions and a promise he has made repeatedly.

The speaker’s plan is the latest in a growing constellation of proposals. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is ramping up its campaign to kill them.

A potential curveball is a plan the Trump administration has been working on that would base the price that Medicare pays for some drugs that are administered by doctors, such as chemotherapy and other intravenous infusions, on what other countries, including Canada and Germany, pay for the same medications.

Here is a roundup of where the various proposals stand.

Ms. Pelosi’s bill, expected soon, would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition. The response from the White House will be critically important, as will the reaction from House liberals. Some of them pushed back on an initial proposal to let the Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative arm of Congress, decide a drug’s price if the government and manufacturer cannot agree.

Ms. Pelosi apparently listened: a draft of her plan published by The Hill on Monday night did not include that idea. The draft would not only allow the government to negotiate prices for 250 drugs in Medicare, but would also require the manufacturers to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers, giving it huge reach. A senior Democratic aide said that the draft was “out of date,” adding, “Nothing is being distributed to the caucus yet because the committees are still discussing.”

Ms. Pelosi’s plan would impose a large fee on companies that refuse to negotiate — equal to 75 percent of the previous year’s sales of the drug, according to the draft. But liberals may want to take an even harder line with drug companies. One competing plan, from Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would let another manufacturer produce the drug in question as a generic if a company refused to “negotiate in good faith.”

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said the speaker was reaching out widely for input.

“We continue to engage members across the caucus as the committees of jurisdiction work to develop the boldest, toughest possible bill to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans,” he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160510584_bec2b2c7-2b27-4164-ae6c-6717e3285500-articleLarge Pelosi Energizes Battle to Lower Drug Prices United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on Finance Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pelosi, Nancy Medicare Law and Legislation Drugs (Pharmaceuticals)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

It remains to be seen if Mr. Trump, despite his earlier support for letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, will embrace such a plan. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping that the mere possibility will prompt more members of his party to support a drug-pricing bill he introduced over the summer with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat.

“I’m trying to tell Senate Republicans that they ought to consider this a moderate position,” he said of his bill in an interview Monday, “because it would be easy for the president to join Pelosi.”

The House has already passed a package of three bipartisan drug-pricing provisions that restrict anti-competitive behaviors by pharmaceutical companies, but they were bundled with another measure that would also reverse Trump administration policies intended to undermine the Affordable Care Act. That turned House Republicans against it and ensured it would go nowhere in the Senate.

The Finance Committee leadership’s bill cleared the panel in late July — but with most Republican members against it. Republicans were particularly concerned with a requirement that drug companies pay rebates to Medicare if they raised prices faster than inflation, which some called government price-fixing.

The bill would also create an out-of-pocket limit for Medicare drug costs, fixing it initially at $3,100 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. The committee estimated the bill would save the federal government $92 billion over a decade, with Medicare beneficiaries saving an additional $31 billion over the same period. The package has support from the White House, and Mr. Grassley said he was optimistic that House Democrats, with whom he has been communicating, would move similar legislation, perhaps improving the chances that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, would allow a vote on the finance bill.

But opposition is mounting. One conservative advocacy group, the dark-money American Future Fund, has run ads praising Republican members of the Finance Committee who voted against the bill, warning it would usher in “socialist price controls.”

Another bipartisan team, Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, introduced a bill in June that is largely focused on ending so-called surprise medical billing.

But their plan also addresses drug prices. One proposal takes aim at the games pharmaceutical manufacturers play to protect their monopolies and market share. Another seeks to ban so-called pay-for-delay deals in which brand-name manufacturers pay generic companies to delay bringing lower-cost drugs to market. Yet another would tinker with the exclusive six-month sales period that a generic drug maker gets when it is the first to market after a drug loses its patent protection.

The health committee approved the package overwhelmingly in June, but Mr. Alexander and Ms. Murray said a Senate vote would be delayed. The bill is facing stiff opposition from doctor and hospital groups because of the piece addressing surprise billing, which happens when patients unwittingly get hospital care from doctors who are not in their insurance network. In an interview Monday, Mr. Grassley said the hope was to combine the finance and health committee bills, and others that address high health care costs, in some form by year’s end.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” President Trump told reporters in early July.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Over the summer, the president suffered setbacks on his own efforts to address drug costs: He killed a proposal that would have reduced out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries out of concern that it would raise insurance premiums heading into his re-election campaign. And a federal judge threw out a new requirement that drug companies disclose their prices in television ads.

For the past few months, White House budget officials have been honing a more ambitious plan to base Medicare payments for certain drugs administered by doctors on the much lower prices that other countries pay, which the administration has said could bring down prices by 30 percent.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” Mr. Trump told reporters in July. “Why should other nations like Canada — why should other nations pay much less than us? They’ve taken advantage of the system for a long time.”

Perhaps to court Mr. Trump’s support, Ms. Pelosi’s plan includes essentially the same idea, directing the government to base drug prices to the average paid in six other countries.

Despite intense industry lobbying against the idea and opposition from influential members of Congress, including Senator Grassley, it seems most likely that the administration will at least release a proposed rule. In a recent meeting with reporters, Seema Verma, the head of the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, called it “a top priority for my department,” adding, “We are fast and furious on it.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Pelosi Enlivens Battle to Lower Drug Prices

A draft proposal by Speaker Nancy Pelosi would empower the federal government to negotiate lower prices for hundreds of prescription drugs, not only for Medicare but for the private market as well, injecting new urgency into Washington’s efforts to control the soaring price of pharmaceuticals.

The plan would revive an idea loathed by most congressional Republicans but long embraced by Democrats; President Trump expressed support for it during his 2016 campaign. By the time he hits the campaign trail again next year, Mr. Trump wants to persuade voters that he lowered the cost of prescription drugs — an issue that resonates with Americans of all political persuasions and a promise he has made repeatedly.

The speaker’s plan is the latest in a growing constellation of proposals. At the same time, the pharmaceutical industry is ramping up its campaign to kill them.

A potential curveball is a plan the Trump administration has been working on that would base the price that Medicare pays for some drugs that are administered by doctors, such as chemotherapy and other intravenous infusions, on what other countries, including Canada and Germany, pay for the same medications.

Here is a roundup of where the various proposals stand.

Ms. Pelosi’s bill, expected soon, would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition. The response from the White House will be critical, as will the reaction from House liberals. Some of them pushed back on an initial proposal to let the Government Accountability Office, an independent investigative arm of Congress, decide a drug’s price if the government and manufacturer cannot agree.

Ms. Pelosi apparently listened: a draft of her plan published by The Hill on Monday night did not include that idea. The draft would not only allow the government to negotiate prices for 250 drugs in Medicare, but would also require the manufacturers to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers, giving it huge reach. A senior Democratic aide said that the draft was “out of date,” adding, “Nothing is being distributed to the caucus yet because the committees are still discussing.”

Ms. Pelosi’s plan would impose a large fee on companies that refuse to negotiate — equal to 75 percent of the previous year’s sales of the drug, according to the draft. But liberals may want to take an even harder line with drug companies. One competing plan, from Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would let another manufacturer produce the drug in question as a generic if a company refused to “negotiate in good faith.”

Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, said the speaker was reaching out widely for input.

“We continue to engage members across the caucus as the committees of jurisdiction work to develop the boldest, toughest possible bill to lower prescription drug prices for all Americans,” he said.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_160510584_bec2b2c7-2b27-4164-ae6c-6717e3285500-articleLarge Pelosi Enlivens Battle to Lower Drug Prices United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Committee on Finance Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Pelosi, Nancy Medicare Law and Legislation Drugs (Pharmaceuticals)

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would allow the government to negotiate the price of certain brand-name drugs that lack competition.CreditTom Brenner for The New York Times

It remains to be seen if Mr. Trump, despite his earlier support for letting Medicare negotiate lower drug prices, will embrace such a plan. Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping that the mere possibility will prompt more members of his party to support a drug-pricing bill he introduced over the summer with Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the committee’s top Democrat.

“I’m trying to tell Senate Republicans that they ought to consider this a moderate position,” he said of his bill in an interview Monday, “because it would be easy for the president to join Pelosi.”

The House has already passed a package of three bipartisan drug-pricing provisions that restrict anti-competitive behaviors by pharmaceutical companies, but they were bundled with another measure that would also reverse Trump administration policies intended to undermine the Affordable Care Act. That turned House Republicans against it and ensured it would go nowhere in the Senate.

The Finance Committee leadership’s bill cleared the panel in late July — but with most Republican members against it. Republicans were particularly concerned with a requirement that drug companies pay rebates to Medicare if they raised prices faster than inflation, which some called government price-fixing.

The bill would also create an out-of-pocket limit for Medicare drug costs, fixing it initially at $3,100 a year for Medicare beneficiaries. The committee estimated the bill would save the federal government $92 billion over a decade, with Medicare beneficiaries saving an additional $31 billion over the same period. The package has support from the White House, and Mr. Grassley said he was optimistic that House Democrats, with whom he has been communicating, would move similar legislation, perhaps improving the chances that Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, would allow a vote on the finance bill.

But opposition is mounting. One conservative advocacy group, the dark-money American Future Fund, has run ads praising Republican members of the Finance Committee who voted against the bill, warning it would usher in “socialist price controls.”

Another bipartisan team, Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, introduced a bill in June that is largely focused on ending so-called surprise medical billing.

But their plan also addresses drug prices. One proposal takes aim at the games pharmaceutical manufacturers play to protect their monopolies and market share. Another seeks to ban so-called pay-for-delay deals in which brand-name manufacturers pay generic companies to delay bringing lower-cost drugs to market. Yet another would tinker with the exclusive six-month sales period that a generic drug maker gets when it is the first to market after a drug loses its patent protection.

The health committee approved the package overwhelmingly in June, but Mr. Alexander and Ms. Murray said a Senate vote would be delayed. The bill is facing stiff opposition from doctor and hospital groups because of the piece addressing surprise billing, which happens when patients unwittingly get hospital care from doctors who are not in their insurance network. In an interview Monday, Mr. Grassley said the hope was to combine the finance and health committee bills, and others that address high health care costs, in some form by year’s end.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” President Trump told reporters in early July.CreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Over the summer, the president suffered setbacks on his own efforts to address drug costs: He killed a proposal that would have reduced out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries out of concern that it would raise insurance premiums heading into his re-election campaign. And a federal judge threw out a new requirement that drug companies disclose their prices in television ads.

For the past few months, White House budget officials have been honing a more ambitious plan to base Medicare payments for certain drugs administered by doctors on the much lower prices that other countries pay, which the administration has said could bring down prices by 30 percent.

“We’re working on a favored-nation clause, where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” Mr. Trump told reporters in July. “Why should other nations like Canada — why should other nations pay much less than us? They’ve taken advantage of the system for a long time.”

Perhaps to court Mr. Trump’s support, Ms. Pelosi’s plan includes essentially the same idea, directing the government to base drug prices to the average paid in six other countries.

Despite intense industry lobbying against the idea and opposition from influential members of Congress, including Senator Grassley, it seems most likely that the administration will at least release a proposed rule. In a recent meeting with reporters, Seema Verma, the head of the agency that runs Medicare and Medicaid, called it “a top priority for my department,” adding, “We are fast and furious on it.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

More House Republicans Ask: Why Win Re-election When You Can Retire Instead

WASHINGTON — Congress’s six-week summer recess comes to an end on Monday, and a growing number of House Republicans have sent a clear message: They would much rather stay home.

More than a dozen Republicans of nearly every stripe — moderates and conservatives, relative newcomers and those with decades of seniority, two of the party’s 13 women and its only African-American lawmaker — have all announced their retirements in the past several weeks, underscoring a sour mood in the minority party and a sense of foreboding about its chances to win back the House in 2020. And party operatives believe there are many more departures to come.

Most of them have explained their planned farewells at the end of their terms in 2021 in personal terms, citing health and family concerns or a general sense that “it’s time” and declining to elaborate further. Only a few, such as Representative Will Hurd of Texas, faced a difficult re-election campaign.

But former lawmakers and several political strategists said the departures were more likely a consequence of two slowly dawning realities for Republican House members: Being in the minority is no fun, and their chances of ending Democratic rule next year are fading fast.

“Unless you’re really driven or have a specific purpose,” said Matt Mackowiak, a Republican strategist based in Texas, “the idea of retiring from Congress could be really appealing.”

Ticking off a list of the job’s demands — crisscrossing the country at least three weeks a month, enduring political pressure, sacrificing personal time and upholding the drumbeat of fund-raising — Mr. Mackowiak added, “It’s a grind and it’s a beat down.”

A majority of those who have announced their retirements had safe seats in Republican districts and could have easily been re-elected. But the day-to-day realities of Democratic rule — already brought home by the 2018 midterm elections and the ascension of Speaker Nancy Pelosi — have left their mark.

Curtailed access to convenient meeting rooms, a schedule set by the majority and no control over the legislative agenda are only some of the perpetual complaints of whichever party is in the minority in the House.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_154562430_d88191cd-fbf0-4a8d-bb58-0a5783183609-articleLarge More House Republicans Ask: Why Win Re-election When You Can Retire Instead United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sensenbrenner, F James Jr Pelosi, Nancy Midterm Elections (2018) Israel, Steve J Hurd, Will Elections, House of Representatives Conaway, K Michael

Jim Sensenbrenner, Republican of Wisconsin, announced this week that he would retire.CreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“When candidates would ask me, ‘What’s life like in the minority?’ I would say, ‘It’s great,’” said former Representative Steve Israel, Democrat of New York. With a chuckle, he added, “But it’s not so great.”

The retirement numbers have not yet reached pre-2018 levels, when 34 Republican seats opened up in the lower chamber because of retirement, the highest number in decades. But the number of House departures announced this year — more than a dozen so far — continues a pattern that has resulted in the departure of about a third of the 293 Republicans who were serving in the House when Mr. Trump took office.

Mr. Israel, who announced his decision to retire from his heavily Democratic New York district while in the minority in 2016, said he did so in part because he intended to pursue interests outside of Capitol Hill.

The Republicans who are retiring are doing so knowing that they would be re-elected, he said. “They just don’t want to continue flying back and forth to Washington without getting anything done.”

That is a particularly bitter pill for experienced legislators like Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin and Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas. Both men, who announced plans to retire during the summer recess, had already found themselves sidelined by Republican rules that bar the party’s lawmakers from serving for more than three terms as a committee chairman or ranking member.

“You lose some influence, and it’s less interesting to be in the chamber when you don’t have that position anymore,” said Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “That’s expertise in how the chamber works leaving the chamber.”

Republican strategists and aides suspect that some of the impending retirements will come not only from members tired of Washington gridlock, but from other members facing the loss of prized committee power.

“Some of it is the minority and the nastiness, no doubt about it,” said Representative Don Bacon, Republican of Nebraska. But he added, the term limits were a factor behind the conference “losing great people.”

Chris Pack, a spokesman for the House Republican campaign arm, said that the self-imposed term limits “are why Republicans consistently have a healthy dose of turnover.”

Representative Martha Roby of Alabama, one of 13 Republican women in Congress, will not seek re-election.CreditKevin D. Liles for The New York Times

Democrats, for their part, have been gleeful about the string of retirements, particularly in Texas where early filing deadlines have prompted earlier decisions than in other states. Exalting over what they have deemed “the Texodus,” some officials believe a number of seats in Texas — particularly ones like Mr. Hurd’s, which was decided by fewer than 1,200 votes in 2018 — are theirs for the taking.

“It’s clear the continued drain of having to defend their toxic, unpopular agenda and the misery of serving in the minority is what’s driving Washington Republicans to head for the exits in record numbers,” Cole Leiter, a spokesman for the House Democrats’ campaign arm, said in a statement.

On Capitol Hill, a rude awakening for less-senior Republicans who have never served in the minority may have also contributed to the number of departures. Nearly three-quarters of the Republican conference — 142 members in all — are in the minority for the first time in an institution where the majority carries all of the power, dictating which bills are considered and when, and what language can be debated and how.

For some Republicans, the prospect of sharing a ticket with Mr. Trump is unappealing, especially after the midterm elections last year, when the president’s incendiary speech and divisive style saddled candidates with a brand that alienated politically crucial suburban voters, especially women and those with college educations.

But for others, Mr. Trump’s place on the ballot could help preserve some newly vacant Republican seats and help whittle away at the Democratic majority. In 2016, he won dozens of the districts where freshman Democrats now hold seats.

“It comes at a time when the political tectonic plates are shifting,” said Ken Spain, a former communications official for the National Republican Congressional Committee, adding that Mr. Trump’s support could bolster Republican hopes in swing districts.

At the same time, serving in Congress in the Trump era offers Republicans a pair of stark choices: embrace the president and defend his policies and comments without reservation, or risk a brutal primary challenge from a Republican who is willing to.

Mr. Hurd was one of only four Republicans who joined Democrats this year in voting to condemn as racist Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts telling four congresswomen of color to “go back” to their countries of origin, though all but one of them were born in the United States and all are American citizens. And Representative Martha Roby, Republican of Alabama, survived four primary challengers in 2018 who were buoyed in part by her unfavorable comments about Mr. Trump’s 2016 candidacy.

The departure of conservative mainstays like Mr. Sensenbrenner, who notched a series of bipartisan accomplishments in his decades in office, will also most likely signal a broader shift in the characters of both the party and Congress, with the loss of institutional knowledge and bipartisan alliances.

“They’ll be replaced by Republicans, but they may be replaced by different Republicans than we would have seen 40 years ago,” Ms. Reynolds said, adding there would be a new approach “both in working across the aisle and knowing where the levers of power are.”

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In Republican-Leaning Districts, Lawmakers Shy Away From Broaching Impeachment

HOWELL, Mich. — The message printed on a pair of handmade wood-and-cardboard placards could not have been clearer as Representative Elissa Slotkin gazed out on a crowd of about 300 of her constituents who gathered for a town hall-style meeting to discuss their biggest concerns: “IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY NOW.”

“I just want her to know that some of her constituents are there,” said Patricia Onelio, 61, who staked out seats with her husband in the front row, determined for their demands to be seen by their congresswoman, a Democrat in a Republican-leaning district who has resisted calls to impeach President Trump. “He gets more emboldened by the minute, so I just think it’s important for us to show up and let her know where we stand.”

Here in this town about an hour northwest of Detroit that Mr. Trump carried by seven points in 2016, and in similar districts throughout the country where Democratic victories last year handed the party control of the House, lawmakers like Ms. Slotkin hardly need the reminder.

But while attendees had scrawled enough questions about impeachment on the index cards provided that the moderator immediately raised the topic, and returned to it a second time, there was little pushback to Ms. Slotkin’s wait-and-see approach.

“I want to be very honest, that I believe impeachment is a very big step — I believe it is something that should not be taken lightly — and it has to be something where we bring people along,” she said. If the Trump administration fails to respond to the many subpoenas that have been issued by the Judiciary Committee, she added, “we may be in a different world.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159897885_ec4ee834-1cd0-4aec-b4f8-0f884a75c4e8-articleLarge In Republican-Leaning Districts, Lawmakers Shy Away From Broaching Impeachment United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Senate Pelosi, Nancy impeachment Horn, Kendra Elections, House of Representatives

Ms. Slotkin’s constituents brought signs that read, in all capital letters, “Impeachment Inquiry Now.”CreditBrittany Greeson for The New York Times

Despite the efforts of pro-impeachment activist groups to transform August into a Tea Party-style series of grass-roots revolts that might force Democrats of all stripes to throw their support behind impeachment, the groundswell has yet to reach this politically crucial group of lawmakers in Republican-leaning districts. Instead, they are staying cautious and, in some cases, even trying to avoid mentioning the word, and many of their constituents — even impeachment supporters — appear willing, at least for now, to tolerate that reluctance.

In more than two dozen interviews in districts like these in three states over the past week, some voters said they wished their representative in Congress would hurry up and endorse an impeachment inquiry in order to send an unmistakable signal that Mr. Trump’s actions were illegal and unacceptable. But most were either strongly opposed or said they understood the reluctance to set the process in motion, given the degree to which it could divide the country, the likelihood of failure given Republican control of the Senate and the political stakes for their representatives if they backed it.

“The main issue is letting it play out in the 2020 election,” said Blaise Molitoris, Ms. Onelio’s sign-toting husband, who called Ms. Slotkin’s circumspection“fair” and said he understood her stance despite his own eagerness to see Mr. Trump impeached. “It’s not good for the country — just the divisiveness — but leaving it as is and not holding the president accountable for his actions just can’t stand in my book.”

To be sure, many Democrats in districts around the country have confronted strident calls from constituents over their six-week August vacation to endorse impeachment, and some of them have heeded the message. One hundred and thirty Democrats now support impeaching Mr. Trump, a number that has grown in the weeks since the recess began. A coalition of progressive groups has mounted a campaign — called “Impeachment August” — to use the break to try to win over converts, texting 280,000 constituents in more than 70 congressional districts to notify them about lawmakers’ events and encourage constituents to show up and demand it.

At an event near Pittsburgh, constituents pressed Representative Conor Lamb about impeaching Mr. Trump, asking why he was “lagging behind” his colleagues on the issue, according to a report by the local NPR affiliate. Representative Andy Kim was heckled during a gathering last month in Riverside, N.J., with shouts of “Do your job” and “Why’s it taking so long — I want him gone!” according to local news reports.

In an interview after an event in Forked River, N.J., Representative Andy Kim, Democrat of New Jersey, was careful never to utter the word “impeachment” even as he was asked about it.CreditBryan Anselm for The New York Times

But in an interview last week, Mr. Kim said he was hearing far more from his constituents about gun safety, the economy and health care as well as local issues. During a 90-minute town hall-style meeting Thursday evening that Mr. Kim held in a middle school cafeteria in Forked River, attendees stuck to the topic advertised — the dismantling of a nearby nuclear plant, which has generated controversy among residents — and there was not a single question or interruption about impeachment.

“These are not issues that can wait till the next election; I mean, this is happening right now,” Mr. Kim said in an interview after the session, careful never to utter the word “impeachment” even as he was asked about it. “I’ve seen what happens when we have just massive gridlock in Washington, and how it just paralyzes everything else that we do. So, you know, I worry about that side of things. I want to make sure we can keep delivering on health care and other issues.”

Activists who showed up with signs supporting the Democratic plan for a single-payer, government-backed health care system known as “Medicare for All” said they also favored impeaching the president. But they had not come to bend Mr. Kim’s ear on that.

“My point of view is Medicare for all and the Green New Deal are 10 times more important,” said Tom Cannavo, 59, a retired prosecutor from Beachwood, N.J.

It is a sentiment that resonates with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has staunchly refused to rush into an impeachment proceeding she says neither Congress nor the country is ready to pursue, in part out of concern for the political fortunes of lawmakers in districts like these whose constituents are not clamoring for the move. In a conference call with her caucus in recent weeks, Ms. Pelosi said the public “isn’t there on impeachment,” adding that Democrats have to balance “our responsibility to protect and defend the Constitution, and to be unifying and not dividing.”

Representative Kendra Horn, Democrat of Oklahoma, at a town hall-style meeting last week, faced questions about veterans’ issues and pharmaceutical costs rather than impeachment.CreditJoseph Rushmore for The New York Times

In Oklahoma City, where voters helped elect Representative Kendra Horn as the first Democrat to represent the state’s Fifth District in nearly half a century, at least one of her events last week was targeted by activists, as Mr. Kim’s and Ms. Slotkin’s were, as part of “Impeachment August,” in a bid to encourage activists to show up and pressure the lawmakers to endorse the step.

But on Wednesday, as guests of the Northwest Oklahoma City Chamber asked Ms. Horn questions over plates of pasta and glasses of iced tea, no one raised the topic. Instead, a veteran rose to press about support for veterans in the community. Another man, his breathing tube in one hand, asked about efforts to control pharmaceutical costs. An immigration advocate wanted to know about the potential for moving forward with immigration overhaul.

“Impeachment would not be good in this district,” said Peter G. Pierce III, 69, who had asked about prescription drugs. A Democratic supporter of Ms. Horn, he said he would prefer to get rid of Mr. Trump “the old-fashioned way, and vote him out.”

“You don’t wound the king,” he added, “you kill him.”

Ms. Horn, without mentioning the “i” word in an interview on Thursday, said the forum was typical of what she had heard from voters across her Republican-leaning district — and what she had not.

“People are asking me what we can do about my student loans. ‘How can we get a doctor in our community?’” she said. “These are the things that can literally make a difference in somebody’s life on a day-to-day basis.”

“We’ve got to talk about and do the work that matters to people,” she said.

In a district where Mr. Trump won by nearly 14 percent, many voters are wary of the consequences of an impeachment inquiry.

“If they were able to get it through, would it set a precedent for future administrations that instead of working the problems out, we impeach?” asked Marvin Hazel, an Oklahoma City pastor and an independent who voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 and is a fan of Ms. Horn. “That would be a bad precedent to start.”

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Trump Says ‘Hong Kong Is Not Helping’ in Trade War With China

HONG KONG — In his most extensive comments on the months of unrest in Hong Kong, President Trump said on Wednesday that China should “humanely” settle the situation before a trade deal is reached.

His comments, delivered on Twitter, for the first time tied the fate of pro-democracy protesters to a trade deal with China, a top administration priority.

Mr. Trump praised President Xi Jinping of China as “a great leader” and suggested a “personal meeting” could help solve the crisis in Hong Kong. He also said “China is not our problem, though Hong Kong is not helping.”

“Of course China wants to make a deal,” he said. “Let them work humanely with Hong Kong first!”

[Here’s a guide to why people are protesting in Hong Kong and how the movement has evolved.]

Though the protests have been going on for more than two months, as demonstrators have filled streets and jammed airport terminals in actions that have frequently ended with violent police crackdowns, Mr. Trump had all but ignored the situation, offering just tepid, short statements. His comments on Wednesday stopped short of praising or supporting the protesters, as both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have done, and he did not explain what he meant by “humanely” working with Hong Kong.

One day earlier, Mr. Trump took no stance when asked by reporters.

“The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation,” he said on Tuesday. “Very tough. We’ll see what happens. But I’m sure it’ll work out.”

He added: “I hope it works out for everybody, including China. I hope it works out peacefully. I hope nobody gets hurt. I hope nobody gets killed.”

He had previously called the protests “riots,” repeating language used by the Chinese government that is strongly disputed by protesters, and said, “That’s between Hong Kong and that’s between China, because Hong Kong is a part of China.”

The White House’s restraint on the issue has stood out in Washington, where the protests have been the source of a rare sight: broad bipartisan agreement.

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader; Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader; and Marco Rubio are among the Republicans who have put out full-throated statements in support of the protests. Across the aisle, Nancy Pelosi, the House majority leader; Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader; and most of the Democratic nominees for president have done the same.

The protesters, initially stirred in opposition to a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China, have expanded their demands to include universal suffrage, an independent investigation of the police’s handling of the demonstrations, and amnesty for hundreds of arrested protesters. The protests have been mostly peaceful but have occasionally turned violent, including a chaotic scene at the airport Tuesday when demonstrators attacked two men from mainland China, including a journalist.

The police have routinely used tear gas, pepper spray and batons to disperse protesters. Hong Kong officials have resisted an investigation into the police’s tactics, which have been condemned by international groups including the United Nations Human Rights office, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Nor have officials indicated any willingness to submit to the protesters’ demands, increasing fears that the impasse could lead to a bloody, Tiananmen-style crackdown by Beijing. Mr. Trump tweeted on Tuesday that the Chinese government had moved troops to the border with Hong Kong, and encouraged everyone to be “calm and safe.”

A garrison of soldiers with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army is stationed in Hong Kong, but most observers consider it unlikely that Beijing would use it to squelch protests unless as a last resort, as it would all but destroy the territory’s autonomy and could have a devastating economic impact.

In online forums popular with protesters in Hong Kong, people largely welcomed Mr. Trump’s most recent comments on Wednesday but expressed concern that the United States would not take any more significant actions. China has accused foreign countries, primarily the United States, of secretly being behind the protest movement — an accusation strongly denied by American officials and laughed at by protesters, who say they can organize protests without help.

A few protesters have waved American flags at demonstrations, typically seen as signaling support for democracy more than an allegiance to the country.

“Like many protesters, we want Trump to liberate Hong Kong and to pass laws that will help the democratization of our city,” Brian Chan, who held a large American flag, said during a march on July 21. “We need international help, and America is the only country with the means and possibly the incentive to sanction China. They are already at trade war, and I believe that China is at the losing side.”

Katherine Li contributed reporting.

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The House v. Trump: Stymied Lawmakers Increasingly Battle in the Courts

WASHINGTON — Democrats took control of the House this year promising to use legislation and investigations to check President Trump. But facing substantial roadblocks to each, they are increasingly opposing him in a different way: Eight months into their majority, the House is going to court at a tempo never seen before.

Fighting in courtrooms as much as in hearing rooms, the House has already become a party to nine separate lawsuits this year, while also filing briefs for judges in four others. More lawsuits are being drafted, according to a senior aide to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The fights include efforts to reveal Mr. Trump’s hidden financial dealings, force his aides to testify about his attempts to obstruct the Russia investigation, challenge his invocation of emergency powers to spend more taxpayer money on a border wall than Congress approved and defend laws like the Affordable Care Act that his Justice Department abandoned.

While it is routine for the executive branch to be in court, it was once vanishingly rare for Congress, which has typically used its authority to pass laws, appropriate funds and investigate the executive branch, to balance out the president’s power.

Now, as Senate Republicans refuse to take up the bills they pass, Trump administration witnesses refuse to show up for their hearings and the president levels his own highly unusual lawsuits against the House’s oversight requests, two of the three branches of government are regularly facing off before the third, creating a new stress with uncertain consequences for the political system.

“It is unprecedented,” said Charles Tiefer, a former longtime House lawyer who is now a University of Baltimore law professor. “The challenges for the House counsel ebb and flow over time, but this is like nothing else in history.”

The consequences of the specific disputes could be significant. In the short term, they could determine whether House Democrats are able to drag information to light about Mr. Trump that could lead to his impeachment or damage his re-election prospects. And potential decisions by the higher courts could clarify the long-ambiguous line between a president’s secrecy power and Congress’s oversight authority — determining whether future presidents can systematically stonewall congressional subpoenas.

But the broader phenomenon is also significant.

As an immediate matter, the surge in litigation is a consequence of Mr. Trump’s norm-busting presidency. House Democrats are looking for additional venues through which to take him on — or, in some cases, fighting lawsuits that the president filed against Congress himself to try to block lawmakers from obtaining information about him from entities outside the federal government. But it is also bringing into clearer view how, over the past generation, Congress was already starting to go to court more often than had been the historical norm, as political compromise gave way to deadlock amid growing partisan polarization.

That trend line suggests that even if the number of congressional lawsuits declines when the next president takes office, the constitutional order could change in a way that Mr. Tiefer and other legal scholars view as dangerous. He said it is better if the two parties were able to resolve high-level policy disputes through compromise rather than through the “rigid and formalized system” of litigation, and suggested that routinely pushing those disputes into court could heighten politicization of the judiciary.

To handle the mounting workload, the House’s general counsel, Douglas Letter, a former Justice Department litigator, and his staff of seven lawyers have increasingly relied on volunteer lawyers at white-shoe law firms and at public interest groups — including several prominent veterans of the Obama legal team — to help research and draft court filings.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, which was a party in one of the subpoena lawsuits for Mr. Trump’s banking records, portrayed the increasing litigation as an unfortunate necessity.

“The blanket refusal to comply with any legitimate process has forced us to go to court to validate Congress’s power of oversight,” he said. “If we don’t, we are at risk of losing that power, and that would be a tragedy for the country because it would take any limit off the executive.”

Republicans say it is the Democrats who are out of control and violating traditional norms of governance. The Justice Department has accused the House of asking the judiciary “to take its side in political disputes” and of trying to “use federal courts to accomplish through litigation what it cannot achieve using the tools the Constitution gives to Congress.”

For most of American history, Mr. Tiefer said, Congress never went to court over disputes with the executive branch. The seeds of change began during the Watergate scandal, when Congress enacted a special law enabling a Senate committee to sue President Richard M. Nixon to try to gain access to his Oval Office tapes.

In the post-Watergate reform era, the House created a small general counsel office, raising the possibility of filing civil lawsuits seeking enforcement of its subpoenas to executive branch officials if a president tried to block them. But that threat remained essentially theoretical for more than a generation, as the two branches resolved such disputes through negotiations.

But in 2008, House Democrats went to court to compel disclosure of information from the Bush administration about its firing of a group of United States attorneys. In 2012, House Republicans sued for internal Obama Justice Department documents related to the botched gun-trafficking case known as Operation Fast and Furious.

Those rare subpoena-related cases have now grown routine. Already this year, Democrats have filed lawsuits seeking to enforce subpoenas for Mr. Trump’s federal tax returns and for testimony from Donald F. McGahn II, his former White House counsel and a key witness to several obstruction episodes in the special counsel’s Russia investigation report.

Separately, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers have filed lawsuits against the House seeking to block financial firms — Mazars USA and Deutsche Bank and Capital One — from complying with its subpoenas for his business records. Mr. Trump has also filed one against the House to block it from requesting his state tax returns from New York.

Several more subpoena-related lawsuits are under development, including most likely a suit for executive branch information that could reveal the administration’s motivation for trying to add a citizenship question to the census.

The House has also filed litigation asking a judge to grant the House Judiciary Committee access to secret evidence Robert S. Mueller III, the former special counsel, gathered using a grand jury. That effort draws on a Watergate-era precedent, but the House was not itself a party to the 1974 request.

Also on an upward trend are cases in which the House is intervening in court to defend statutes because the executive branch refuses to do so, contrary to the Justice Department’s longstanding role of defending acts of Congress that come under constitutional challenge.

Although there have been several lawsuits in the past where Congress stepped in to defend a law that the executive branch said permitted lawmakers to unconstitutionally encroach on presidential power, it is now starting to become more common for the Justice Department to refuse to defend a law — and for the House to step in — without a separation-of-powers rationale.

In 2011, House Republicans intervened to defend a law that barred federal recognition of same-sex marriages that were lawful at the state level after the Obama administration deemed it unconstitutional and stopped defending it in court. At the time, such an intervention by Congress was highly unusual.

But this year, it has already happened twice. The Justice Department under Mr. Trump has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act and a law against female genital mutilation. The House has sought to intervene and provide lawyers to argue that both are constitutional.

It is also becoming more common for the House to sue the executive branch over spending and policy disputes. In 2014, the Republican-controlled House filed an unusual lawsuit over how the Obama administration was putting the Affordable Care Act into effect, including its provision of insurer subsidies the lawmakers said were unauthorized.

Echoing that move, House Democrats this year filed a lawsuit challenging Mr. Trump’s plan to use emergency powers to spend more on a border wall than Congress appropriated for that purpose. A district court judge ruled that the House lacked standing, and it has appealed.

Across this array of litigation, Mr. Letter — a former Justice Department civil litigation specialist — has handled courtroom appearances. But his office has been working with outside lawyers for research and brief drafting.

The aide to Ms. Pelosi said that all of the outside legal services have been provided for free, in contrast to the several million dollars that House Republicans spent on outside lawyers for the marriage law case.

The lawyers volunteering to help the House Democrats include Donald B. Verrilli Jr., a former solicitor general, and a team at his firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson; Virginia A. Seitz, a former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, and others at her firm, Sidley Austin; Neal K. Katyal, a former acting solicitor general and a partner at Hogan Lovells; and Georgetown Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection, run by two former national security officials, Joshua A. Geltzer and Mary McCord.

Beyond immediate political consequences, legal specialists said that the fate of the litigation wave might carry broader implications for Congress’s ability to counterbalance the presidency in the future, regardless of which party was in power.

Kerry W. Kircher, who served as House counsel under Republican speakers between 2011 and 2016, said many of the House’s lawsuits were justified, regardless of politics, to ensure that Mr. Trump’s vow to defy “all” of its subpoenas did not set a precedent.

House Democrats “are trying to do what they think they were elected to do and make sure that the House in the future will be able to conduct oversight,” he said. “What is going on with this administration is no less than an all-out declaration of war on oversight.”

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Hong Kong Airport Suspends Check-Ins in 2nd Day of Disruptive Protests

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s airport suspended check-ins for a second straight day on Tuesday as protesters again disrupted its operations, hours after the city’s embattled leader pleaded for order amid escalating chaos.

Hundreds of demonstrators occupied parts of Hong Kong International Airport’s departures and arrivals halls on Tuesday, with some using luggage trolleys to block travelers from reaching their departure gates. The Hong Kong Airport Authority closed check-in services in the late afternoon, and it advised all passengers to leave as soon as possible.

It was the second day in a row that demonstrators had seriously disrupted operations at the airport, one of the world’s busiest. On Monday, protesters effectively shuttered it after storming the arrivals and departures halls. As flight cancellations piled up on Tuesday, a few scuffles broke out between protesters and travelers.

Over the weekend, demonstrators had staged a sit-in in the airport arrivals hall that did not noticeably disrupt services. But they escalated their protest on Monday, angry over tactics used by the police against demonstrators the night before, including firing tear gas into a train station. On Tuesday, the United Nations’ human rights chief said there was evidence that the police had violated international standards for the use of such weapons.

The intensifying unrest this month has put the Asian financial hub on edge, in part because Beijing has started to warn protesters in increasingly strident terms to stand down or face consequences. The prospect that China would send its military into Hong Kong to restore order still looks remote, but the fact that analysts and the city’s residents are even discussing it underlines the depths of the political crisis.

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Chief Executive Carrie Lam emerging from behind police barriers that surround her office, in Hong Kong on Tuesday.CreditThomas Peter/Reuters

In a news conference with combative reporters on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, said that without the rule of law it would be impossible for the city’s residents to “continue to live in a peaceful manner.”

“The stability and well-being of seven million people are in jeopardy,” Mrs. Lam said, her voice breaking slightly. “Take a minute to think about that. Look at our city, our home. Do we really want to push our home to the abyss where it will be smashed into pieces?”

During street clashes this summer, the Hong Kong police have regularly fired tear gas, rubber bullets and bean bag rounds to disperse protesters on the streets, even in residential areas and crowded shopping districts. On Sunday night, in addition to using tear gas in a train station, the police beat protesters and chased some down an escalator at another station. The authorities, for their part, accused protesters of attacking officers with bricks and gasoline bombs.

[Here’s a guide to what prompted the Hong Kong protests and how they evolved.]

On Tuesday, Mrs. Lam was frequently interrupted by journalists who demanded an explanation for what protesters have called blatant police misconduct. She looked more visibly emotional than she has at other recent public appearances.

“Will you apologize to the girl?” one reporter asked, referring to a woman who was hit in her right eye on Sunday, apparently by a projectile fired by police officers, during the city’s 10th straight weekend of mass demonstrations.

Some demonstrators used luggage trolleys to stop passengers from reaching their departure gates.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“Why have you never condemned the police?” another asked.

Toward the end of the briefing, Mrs. Lam said that police operations were not determined by “someone like myself, who is outside the police,” and that officers on the ground had to make spot judgments.

Also on Tuesday, medical professionals held rallies at several local hospitals over what they said was a worrisome escalation in the intensity of police violence on the city’s streets, and in solidarity with the woman who was hit in the eye on Sunday. The Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily reported that the injured woman is a veterinary nurse.

The rallies are a “direct response to what happened on Sunday,” Dr. Alfred Wong, a cardiologist who works at Tuen Mun hospital in northwest Hong Kong, said at a gathering there that drew several hundred of his colleagues.

The United Nations said in a statement on Tuesday that Michelle Bachelet, its high commissioner for human rights, was “concerned” by the recent escalation of violence in Hong Kong.

The United Nations also said it had “reviewed credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards,” and it urged the authorities to comply with “international standards on the use of force.”

Protesters held signs and handed leaflets to arriving travelers.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

On Tuesday afternoon, Rupert Hogg, the airline’s chief executive, warned employees against participating in Tuesday’s airport protest because it was not sanctioned by the government.

The Hong Kong Airport Authority said operations had been “seriously disrupted.”CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

“It is important that you do not support or participate in this protest,” Mr. Hogg said in an internal email. “Again, we would be concerned about your safety if this protest becomes disorderly or violent.” Cathay also said on Tuesday that it had suspended an officer for misusing company information the day before.

As if to eliminate any possible ambiguity about the airline’s stance on the unrest, Cathay’s largest shareholder, the Hong Kong-based conglomerate Swire Pacific, also issued a statement on Tuesday condemning “all illegal activities and violent behavior” and expressing support for “a strong and respected rule of law.”

The Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute released the results of a public survey on Tuesday showing that Mrs. Lam’s popularity rating in early August had reached a record low for any chief executive.

But Dixon Ming, a researcher at the institute, told reporters that the protesters could also lose public trust if they continued targeting the city’s public transit system, as they did during a general strike last week.

The continued disruptions at the airport on Tuesday left some travelers battling conflicting impulses.

Maisa Sodebayashi, a Brazilian who works in a car factory in Japan, said on Monday afternoon that she had been stranded in the airport for about 24 hours, and counting, after landing there on a connecting flight to Rio de Janeiro.

Ms. Sodebayashi, 32, said that while she understood the protesters were fighting for democracy, she also wanted to go home.

“Honestly, I don’t know what to do,” she said, standing beside a customer service desk.

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Democrats’ 2020 Problem: How to Be Tougher on Trade Than Trump

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s escalating economic war with China highlights a challenge for Democrats hoping to unseat him in 2020: They’ll have a hard time being tougher on trade than he is.

For years, Democrats in Congress have been warning that China is an economic aggressor bent on undermining American industry. They have denounced the North American Free Trade Agreement for outsourcing jobs and criticized China for manipulating its currency to make Chinese products cheaper. They have vowed to use federal procurement, tariffs and other tools to help American workers.

Mr. Trump has stolen that playbook and gone further. On Monday, his administration formally designated China a currency manipulator, a step some Democrats have demanded for years. Last week, the president moved forward with plans to tax nearly every toy, laptop and sneaker that China sends to the United States. Mr. Trump has also renegotiated NAFTA, imposed tariffs on foreign metals and strengthened “buy American” rules so that federal projects use more materials from the United States.

So far, many of these efforts have not produced the kind of change Mr. Trump promised. His revised NAFTA, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, is languishing in Congress, and his sweeping tariffs have prompted China and Europe to retaliate against American products, particularly farm goods. The president’s trade war with China has begun driving up costs for consumers and businesses.

But Mr. Trump’s trade assault has put Democrats in an awkward spot. They are trying to figure out how to differentiate themselves from Mr. Trump — without ceding their position as the party that will do the most to defend workers against the downsides of globalization.

So far, they are divided between two very different approaches. On one side are Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates who hew more closely to Mr. Trump’s isolationist approach, arguing that trade pacts have sold out workers in favor of corporations. On the other are those advocating the type of engagement undertaken by previous Democratic administrations, including those of Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, to try to gain more influence over other countries through negotiation and trade.

The party is split along familiar lines, with progressives like Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Bernie Sanders of Vermont calling for a more radical transformation of trade policy, and moderates like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. espousing a more traditional approach.

That division is exposing a vulnerability for a party that has historically embraced a tougher stance on free trade than Republicans but has seen that position erode with the ascension of moderate Democrats like Mr. Clinton and Mr. Obama.

Progressives who had railed against trade pacts for years felt shunted aside in the Clinton administration, as pro-trade Democrats brought China into the World Trade Organization and finished NAFTA, a trade deal begun by President George Bush. They felt similarly ignored by the Obama administration, which pushed ahead with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multicountry trade pact, despite complaints that the deal was a boon to drug companies, would allow foreign automakers to flood the American market and overlooked labor violations in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia.

Then came Mr. Trump, whose assaults on China and the North American Free Trade Agreement during the 2016 campaign mimicked what many Democrats had been saying. His promises to put “America first” won over some of the union rank and file, if not their leaders.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_158821320_57de6d9f-8ae5-4d28-91e2-f08f7e353acb-articleLarge Democrats’ 2020 Problem: How to Be Tougher on Trade Than Trump Warren, Elizabeth United States Politics and Government Sanders, Bernard Ryan, Timothy J (1973- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Politics and Government Pelosi, Nancy International Trade and World Market Gabbard, Tulsi (1981- ) de Blasio, Bill Brown, Sherrod Biden, Joseph R Jr

The Democrats are split between more moderate voices, like former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who wants to embrace free trade, and more isolationist candidates who say trade deals hurt American workers and benefit corporations.CreditBridget Bennett for The New York Times

“At one time, the Democrats were much more aggressive on trade than the Republicans,” said Daniel DiMicco, President Trump’s trade adviser during the 2016 campaign, who leads the Coalition for a Prosperous America, a trade group. “They’ve been missing for decades on this, just as many of the Republicans had.”

For now, many of the Democratic candidates are characterizing Mr. Trump’s trade policy as haphazard and inept. But some have also praised him for pursuing policies they have backed for years.

“I think President Trump was onto something when he talked about China,” Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio said last month in the second Democratic debate in Detroit. “China has been abusing the economic system for a long time. They steal intellectual property. They subsidize goods coming into this country. They’ve displaced steel workers, autoworkers, across the board, eroded our manufacturing.”

“So I think we need some targeted response against China,” Mr. Ryan added. “But you know how you beat China? You outcompete them.”

Mr. Ryan and other candidates spent much of the recent debate denouncing Mr. Trump’s trade war as a conflict without winners. But they offered few concrete ideas for how to better position the United States against China’s growing economic ambitions. And while the candidates were united in saying Mr. Trump’s tariffs were not the solution, only Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii would commit to rolling them back once in office.

Instead, Democrats proposed working with allies to try to restrain China, or investing in job training programs to improve America’s competitiveness as a manufacturing base. And they clashed over whether their approach should result in more trade agreements, like Mr. Biden suggests, or fewer, like Ms. Warren.

The stakes are particularly high for Mr. Biden, who has a record of supporting free-trade deals like NAFTA, which he voted for while in Congress, and the TPP, which was ushered in while he was vice president. Although Mr. Biden portrays himself as the candidate most in touch with — and able to win — blue-collar and union workers, that electorate has become increasingly disillusioned with free trade and its ability to deliver promised gains.

Mr. Biden has called for rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was aimed, in part, at pressuring China to overhaul its economy and strengthening the United States’ ability to compete against it in Asia. That deal proved deeply unpopular as the 2016 election approached — including with the Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton — and Mr. Trump pulled the United States out of it in his first week in office.

Mr. Biden tried to head off criticism in the most recent debate, saying that he “would not rejoin the TPP as it was initially put forward” but would “insist that we renegotiate.”

“Either China is going to write the rules of the road for the 21st century on trade, or we are,” Mr. Biden said. “We have to join with the 40 percent of the world that we had with us.”

Others, like Ms. Warren and Mr. Sanders, continue to criticize trade pacts like the TPP as drafted by and for multinational corporations.

Progressive Democratic candidates including Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren argue that free trade agreements have hurt American workers. Ms. Warren wants the United States to do deals only with countries that adhere to strict environmental and labor standards.CreditErin Schaff/The New York Times

Trade deals “have become a way for giant multinationals to change the regulatory environment so they can suck more profits out for themselves and to leave the American people behind,” Ms. Warren said in the debate.

In Ms. Warren’s view, the United States should act as an agent of global change by only entering into trade deals with countries that have strong labor, environmental and other protections.

The standards in her trade agenda, released in July, are so high that they would prohibit the United States from entering new trade agreements with countries including South Korea, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Mexico — and, currently, the United States itself.

“Unlike the insiders, I don’t think ‘free trade’ deals that benefit big multinational corporations and international capital at the expense of American workers are good simply because they open up markets,” Ms. Warren said.

Mr. Sanders’s trade proposals, though less detailed, include ending federal contracts for companies that send jobs overseas, scrapping Mr. Trump’s rewrite of NAFTA, and labeling China a currency manipulator. The plan focuses on fulfilling Mr. Trump’s promise of renegotiating existing trade deals to stop the outsourcing of American jobs, rather than writing new agreements.

Some candidates also see Mr. Trump’s rewrite of NAFTA as an opportunity to revive voter anger toward a trade deal that many within the party blame for decimating American manufacturing, particularly the auto industry.

“President Trump is trying to sell NAFTA 2.0,” Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York, said in the debate as he tried to attack Mr. Biden, who voted in favor of the original deal while in Congress. “It’s just as dangerous as the old NAFTA. It’s going to take away American jobs like the old NAFTA, like it did to Michigan. And we cannot have Democrats be party to a new NAFTA.”

Mr. Trump’s renegotiated NAFTA is largely an update of the 25-year-old pact, and it adds some provisions that Democrats have long favored, like higher requirements for using American materials to make cars and the rollback of a special system of arbitration for corporations.

But Democrats say its provisions on labor rights and the environment are too weak. And they have particularly criticized a provision that would lock in intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical makers, seeing this as an issue where they can drive a wedge between the president and his populist base.

“Anyone who thinks that these trade deals are mostly about tariffs just doesn’t understand what’s going on,” Ms. Warren said in the debate. “Look at the new NAFTA 2.0. What’s the central feature? It’s to help pharmaceutical companies get longer periods of exclusivity so they can charge Canadians, Americans and Mexicans more money and make more profits.”

Some Democrats argue that Mr. Trump’s trade policy will not be difficult to counter, now that the pain of the trade war is being felt.

“Because he opposed NAFTA and trade agreements like I did, I think a lot of voters found that attractive, because these trade agreements have sold out American workers,” said Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who is not running for president. “But I think people’s patience is running thin, because his trade policy has really brought us nothing except a more difficult situation for a lot of people.”

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