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Don McGahn. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled 2-1 on Monday that House Democrats do not have the legal authority to enforce a subpoena against former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Why it matters: The majority opinion deals a severe blow to the House's investigative power, ruling that Congress must pass a law in order to enforce subpoenas in court. House Democrats on Monday immediately said they would appeal the decision and ask the full appeals court to rehear the case.

  • "This wrong-headed Court of Appeals panel ruling threatens to strike a grave blow to one of the most fundamental Constitutional roles of the Congress: to conduct oversight on behalf of the American people, including by issuing our lawful and legitimate subpoenas," Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

The big picture: Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee have fought a lengthy battle to question McGahn — one of the most important witnesses in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation — regarding President Trump's alleged attempts to obstruct justice.

What they're saying: "Because the Committee lacks a cause of action to enforce its subpoena, this lawsuit must be dismissed," the majority opinion reads.

  • "We note that this decision does not preclude Congress (or one of its chambers) from ever enforcing a subpoena in federal court; it simply precludes it from doing so without first enacting a statute authorizing such a suit."
  • "If Congress (rather than a single committee in a single chamber thereof) determines that its current mechanisms leave it unable to adequately enforce its subpoenas, it remains free to enact a statute that makes the House’s requests for information judicially enforceable."

The other side: "[T]he Supreme Court has explained that the powers of Congress enumerated in the Article I of the Constitution imply not only a right to information but also a right to seek judicial enforcement of its subpoena," one of the appeals judges wrote in a dissenting opinion.

The bottom line: The case will continue to be delayed and McGahn will, for the moment, not be forced to testify.

Read the ruling.

Go deeper

Republicans block inaugural committee from recognizing Biden win

From left, Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi, Roy Blunt, Mitch McConnell, Amy Klobuchar. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Republicans on the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies voted against a resolution that would have affirmed the committee was preparing for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: By voting against the resolution, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy effectively blocked the committee from publicly recognizing Biden as president-elect.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will not seek re-election in 2022

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) speaking during a press conference in November 2021. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R), a moderate who typically ranks as one of the nation's most popular governors, said Wednesday that he will not seek a third term in 2022.

Why it matters: The decision leaves the gubernatorial race wide open and will likely affect multiple down-ballot races next year. Baker was expected to be the front-runner had he joined the race.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.