Energy & Environment

Under Trump, our public lands are spewing carbon dioxide
Parks and forests could help us tackle the climate crisis — but right now they’re making it worse

Our public lands are currently hurting efforts to reduce emissions and achieve a zero-carbon economy. That’s absolutely backwards and unnecessary, Grijalva and Lowenthal write. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Getty Images)

OPINION — The Trump administration tried to sneak two alarming climate change reports past the public last year just after Thanksgiving, apparently hoping everyone would be shopping or sleeping off a turkey hangover. The attempt backfired spectacularly.

One of the reports, the National Climate Assessment, gave a new sense of urgency to climate policy in a way unmatched by other recent scientific analyses. Its projections of huge impacts on people’s health, their homes, and the overall U.S. economy from runaway climate change have spurred fresh calls for action and sharpened House Democrats’ focus on climate policy in the next Congress.

Which ballot measure would you rather have a beer with?
Voters routinely back initiatives that clash with their candidate picks — and that’s changing how things get done

In Colorado, liberal enthusiasm propelled Jared Polis into the governor’s mansion. But it wasn’t enough to carry any of three high-profile ballot measures supported by the state Democratic Party. (Rick T. Wilking/Getty Images file photo)

As voters across the country made their choices last year on ballot issues and political candidates, a disconnect emerged.

While Democrats in Colorado swept statewide races, voters sent a different message on taxes and spending by rejecting ballot measures endorsed by Democrats that would have increased revenue for education and transportation.

Pence signals little progress with China since Trump-Xi agreement
U.S. ‘remains hopeful’ Chinese officials will engage in serious talks

Vice President Mike Pence walks through Statuary Hall on his way to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's office in the Capitol on Tuesday, Jan. 8. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence Wednesday signaled that the Trump administration has made little progress in trade talks with China, even after what the White House portrayed as a breakthrough late last year.

Pence painted a picture of a new lull in U.S.-China trade talks even after President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Dec. 1 over local steaks in Argentina to call a truce in what had been a tense tariff war that threatened to slow the global economy.

Protesters disrupt EPA confirmation hearing, held despite shutdown
The group objected to the activating of furloughed staff to help the acting administrator prepare for the hearing

Demonstrators were removed from the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler, President Trump’s pick to lead the EPA. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Two demonstrators were removed Wednesday morning from the confirmation hearing of Andrew Wheeler —President Trump’s pick to lead the EPA.

Protesters in the hallway and hearing room objected to the business in front of the Environment and Public Works Committee, because the EPA remains closed as part of the partial government shutdown. The group of over a dozen protesters included people representing Code Pink and The Moms Clean Air Force, some with strollers and their children in tow.

Adam Schiff hiring full-time team to investigate Trump’s Russia connections
House Intelligence Committee chairman hiring more investigators to revive House Russia probe

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is adding more investigative manpower to his committee staff. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff is sinking panel resources into a robust investigative staff to revive the probe into President Donald Trump's ties to Russia with roughly seven committee staffers directing their energy full-time.

Schiff and the Democrats have made offers to six new staffers, CBS News reported, including a corruption expert and a former prosecutor. The committee is still looking to hire six more people as Schiff restructures the subcommittee and plans targeted lines of inquiry into the president and his 2016 campaign staff’s connections with Russian officials.

Woman suing Rep. Tony Cárdenas for sexual abuse makes her name public, inspired by Christine Blasey Ford
Trial will begin in August in Angela Villela Chavez’s suit against Cárdenas

A woman accusing Rep. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., of sexual abuse has made her name public for the first time. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The woman suing Rep. Tony Cárdenas, alleging that the California Democrat sexually abused her when she was a teenager, has made her name public for the first time. And she was inspired to do so by the Senate testimony of Christine Blasey Ford against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh last year, according to a new report.

A trial will begin in August in 28-year-old Angela Villela Chavez’s civil suit against Cárdenas in Los Angeles County.

Trump’s snow day Twitter rant spills into Monday with attacks on Dems
President also mocks report of FBI probe into whether he worked for Russia

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing on Marine One from the White House on Thursday. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

After a snowy Sunday of Twitter threats and jabs, President Donald Trump on Monday morning fired off more posts blaming Democrats for the now-record partial government shutdown and mocking a report the FBI opened an investigation over concerns he was working for Russia.

During a mid-December Oval Office meeting that devolved into a bickering match, the president told Democratic leaders he would “take the mantle” of any partial shutdown. With nine Cabinet agencies and other offices now shuttered for more than three weeks, Trump on Monday wrote that “Nancy and Cryin’ Chuck can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes,” referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

Frustrated by ‘my generals,’ Trump turns to ‘my actings’
Expert: ‘Irony is the politics are so favorable ... it suggests something more nefarious’

Senate Republicans like Wyoming’s John Barrasso, John Thune of South Dakota, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, here at the Capitol on Wednesday, do not seem concerned about the number of acting Cabinet and lower-level officials in President Donald Trump's administration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Donald Trump came into office enamored with, as he called them, “my generals.” But as he learned on the job, the commander in chief grew frustrated with and replaced those retired four-star military men. Two years later, the president’s Cabinet is now stocked with a group he calls “my actings.”

Experts say the Constitution, existing laws and department-specific guidelines give Trump the authority and legal cover to keep various acting Cabinet-level and other officials in place for over 200 days — or longer, in some cases. But the law is clear as mud when it comes to whether he could simply keep a favorite “acting” in place for the duration of his administration, legal scholars say.

Government’s data policies enter the 21st century — finally
Recently passed reforms hold hope of more evidence-informed policies

Before he gave up his speaker gavel and retired from the House, Paul D. Ryan had a final hurrah in December when Congress passed a package of comprehensive data reforms that he and Washington Sen. Patty Murray had introduced a year earlier. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It might be 2019, but our government’s data infrastructure is largely stuck in the 20th century.

That’s a big problem in the era of the information age. Failing to use data to improve government’s programs and services means taxpayers may not be getting what they pay for. It also means our public discourse suffers when figuring out what problems should be addressed and the best ways to do so.

Congress ignored its election duties for years. That ends now
With HR 1, House Dems have laid out a blueprint for voting reform

As House Democrats push voter registration reforms, there may be heartburn at the state level. But the conversation they’re starting is a crucial one, Weil writes. Above, Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries approaches a “For the People” podium. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — House Democrats have waited eight years to regain the speakership, and now that they hold the gavel, they will clearly seek to move on pent-up priorities. For their first act out of the gate, they rolled several into one.

The “For the People Act” — or H.R. 1 — runs just over 500 pages and includes proposals the Democrats have pursued during their time in the minority, such as ethics reforms, campaign finance changes, and a well-publicized section requiring presidential candidates to hand over their tax returns.

Henry Cuellar says liberals targeting him don’t understand his district
Texas congressman says his polling shows his Democratic constituents are moderates

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, is among the more conservative Democrats in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar said Friday that the liberal Democrats recruiting primary challengers against him are in for a rude awakening. 

The Washington Post first reported that Justice Democrats, a group targeting sitting Democratic lawmakers, launched a fund to support a primary challenge against Cuellar, one of the more conservative House Democrats.

Shutdown ties up Trump’s fossil fuel agenda
94 percent of EPA’s workers are furloughed

The EPA had planned by March to complete a rule easing tailpipe emission standards. Now that timeline could be in doubt. Above, Alex Gromov puts a probe into the tailpipe of a car as he performs a smog check in San Rafael, California, in 2017. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

The partial government shutdown has snagged progress on President Donald Trump’s ambitious agenda to boost fossil fuel use and extraction, including the administration’s repeal and replacement of the Clean Power Plan, which has a March deadline.

Over the last two years, the Trump administration set in motion an aggressive deregulatory agenda, easing emissions regulations and making it easier for energy companies to extract fossil fuels from public lands. Some of the regulatory rollbacks that have been in the works are due to be finalized in the next two months but are now facing delays — such as cessation of public hearings — because of the shutdown, now in its third week.

Email dump could slow EPA confirmation fight
Shutdown throws a wrench in court-ordered document release related to potential conflicts of interest

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before the Senate Environment and Public Works panel last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler has been formally nominated to run the Environmental Protection Agency, setting up a contentious confirmation fight just as a court order threatens the release of over 20,000 emails related to his potential conflicts of interest.

The White House on Wednesday formally sent Wheeler’s nomination to the Senate, triggering the start of the process. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, was confirmed to be the agency’s deputy in April 2018 and became acting administrator in July after the departure of scandal-plagued Scott Pruitt, who resigned from the top post amid mounting ethics issues.

Trump cuts off federal funds to California to fight ‘Forrest fires’
‘Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely,’ president tweets

President Donald Trump escalated his feud with California state leaders on Wednesday, tweeting he has cut off FEMA funds to the state over his view it mismanages the money in fighting forest fires. (Win McNamee/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he has ordered FEMA to withhold funds from California’s state government until officials there “get their act together” fighting forest fires. But he tweeted he thinks that is “unlikely.”

The president long has criticized California state officials, sometimes with dubious claims, over wildfires there and their steps to prevent and nix them. But stopping the flow of federal funds is an escalation of the feud, and one that might raise the ire of lawmakers — even the sizable House GOP delegation from the Golden State.

EU reports on cryptoasset regulation could have global reverberations
Watchdogs urge EU-wide rules

A sign in a Berlin pub signals the owner’s acceptance of bitcoin. Reports on cryptoasset regulation in the European Union could have global reverberations. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images file photo)

 

ANALYSIS — Two leading financial regulatory authorities are preparing to release pivotal reports on cryptoasset regulation throughout the European Union with recommendations that set the stage to create a separate “bespoke” regime for cryptoassets that are not currently subject to regulation in the bloc.