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Soren Dayton and Anthony Marcum arugue, "Members of the Rules Committee have taken the important first step of setting the model for other members and committees."

Some good news from the Hill: Congress is standing up for itself, together

Dayton is a former House GOP aide and a policy advocate at Protect Democracy, a nonprofit that works "to prevent our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government." Marcum is a governance fellow at the R Street Institute, a pro-free-market public policy research organization.

It is rare these days that people have happy news to share in the nation's capital. But we are here to do just that.

Last week, the House Rules Committee held an extraordinary hearing on ways Congress could reassert authorities it has long ceded to the executive branch. It was extraordinary for its form, its substance and its energy. (And yes, we're still talking about a Rules Committee hearing.)

First, the form. The hearing used principles that were first developed by the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. Established just last year, part of the purpose of this rarely discussed Modernization Committee is to "help Congress help itself" with new processes that make it more effective and less polarized.

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Big Picture
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"For Trump, impeachment is likely, removal is dubious, and a re-election campaign is all but certain," write Kristen Nyman and Anthony Marcum.

Three impeachment scenarios dangerous for democracy

Nyman is a government affairs specialist and Marcum is a governance fellow at the R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.

Update: President Trump was impeached by the House of Representatives on Dec. 18.

Imagine the following: Early next year the House of Representatives impeaches President Trump. One of these three scenarios is likely to follow.

Behind curtain number one, the president is acquitted at the subsequent trial in the Senate. He then takes the stage in Charlotte, N.C., to accept the Republican nomination for president in 2020.

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Balance of Power
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Democratic presidential candidates debate at the Fox Theater in Detroit.

At the next debates, ask about things a president can do

Marcum is a governance fellow at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan, pro-free-market, public policy research organization.

July's Democratic presidential debates highlighted a number of important national issues. From health care to economic inequality, candidates offered many purported solutions. The vast majority of these ambitious plans, however, face a fundamental constitutional roadblock: Congress.

Without congressional support, plans such as Medicare for All or amending the Immigration Nationality Act are dead on arrival. Voters, candidates and media alike are well aware that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would prevent any such legislation from passing his chamber, and if Republicans take the House, the chances for passage are even slimmer.

But if you were completely unfamiliar with American civics, you might have assumed from watching the debates that a president's role is to make policy and lambaste Congress when it does not comply. But of course, all legislative power rests with Congress. Viewers of the debates would be better served by questions that illuminate the presidency's actual institutional roles. These responsibilities are vital for governing, but we often fail to press candidates about them until it is too late.

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