Energy & Environment

Senate Energy-Water Rejects Research Cuts Sought by White House
‘We started with an unrealistic budget proposal by the administration’

Senate Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Energy-Water Appropriations Subcommittee advanced by voice vote Tuesday a $43.8 billion draft fiscal 2019 spending measure that, like the House’s bill, does not include drastic reductions in applied research programs proposed by the Trump administration.

The draft legislation, parts of which were made public Tuesday in the committee majority’s summary, represents a $566 million increase from fiscal 2018 enacted appropriations and a $7.2 billion increase from the Trump administration request. The House version would fund the same agencies at $44.7 billion.

Memorial Day Means a Gas Price Event at Congressional Exxon
Schumer-led effort calls on Trump to push OPEC, oil executives to slash prices

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Maria Cantwell were among the Democrats at an Exxon station at Massachusetts Avenue and Second Street Northeast on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

With Memorial Day weekend and summer driving season approaching, it was time once again for lawmakers to descend on a familiar Capitol Hill landmark.

This time, it was Senate Democrats making the pilgrimage to the Exxon station at the corner of Second Street and Massachusetts Avenue Northeast to decry policies behind rising gas prices.

The Blue Dogs Are Barking Again
Moderate Democrats, nearly wiped out in 2010, have hopes for a comeback this year

Current Blue Dog Democrats include, from left, Reps. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Jim Costa, D-Calif., Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., and  Brad Schneider, D-Ill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Brendan Kelly is running in a district in southern Illinois that went for Donald Trump by nearly 15 points in 2016, so his message shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“We see a system that is rigged for a powerful few,” he said in a voice full of gravel. He rails against “elites on the coasts” and understands why many are “frustrated” and “angry” over low-paying jobs and high health care costs.

Lizzie Fletcher Wins Closely Watched Texas Democratic Runoff for Culberson Seat
Democrats are targeting Houston-area seat that Clinton carried in 2016

Texas Rep. John Culberson is a Democratic target this year, after Hillary Clinton carried his Houston-area 7th District in 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher won the Democratic runoff in Texas’ 7th District on Tuesday, defeating activist and writer Laura Moser, whom the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee considered a weak general election candidate.

With 63 percent of precincts reporting, Fletcher led Moser, 68 percent to 32 percent, according to The Associated Press. 

Members Join Rubio in Criticizing Trump Over China Talks
President says he is not satisfied with outcome of latest trade negotiations

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., left, and James Risch, R-Idaho, attend a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in January 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It was Sen. Marco Rubio, not Donald Trump, who used a morning tweet Tuesday to help shape the day’s agenda. The Florida Republican slammed the president’s trade talks with China, prompting other members to voice their concerns.

Rubio wrote that China is “out-negotiating the administration & winning the trade talks right now,” criticizing the Trump administration for putting on hold tariffs aimed at Beijing while moving ahead with efforts to save troubled Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE. He also panned the White House for not forcing concessions from Chinese officials.

Growth in Domestic Oil and Natural Gas Poses New Policy Issues
Republicans want to make overseas shipment of liquefied natural gas easier

The United States is flush with supplies of oil and natural gas — and that has lawmakers contemplating policy changes. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

When it comes to U.S. energy supplies, Congress’ default setting for decades had been worry: worry that America did not have enough energy to meet its needs and worry that OPEC would hold the U.S. hostage by jacking up the price of — or withholding — its oil.

That setting has changed. With the U.S. flush with supplies of oil and natural gas over the past few years, Congress has permitted the export of domestic oil and raided the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to reduce the budget deficit and offset costs of unrelated legislation. And now Republicans want to make it easier for producers to ship liquefied natural gas overseas.

Meet the Democrat Who’s Not Giving Up on Rural, Working-Class Districts
Charlie Kelly is executive director of House Majority PAC

Charlie Kelly, the executive director of House Majority PAC, controls tens of millions of TV spending for the fall. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By 7 a.m. on a recent Monday morning, Charlie Kelly was well into the weeds of America’s congressional districts and halfway through a cup of coffee.

Seated in a cramped conference room in downtown Washington, the executive director of House Majority PAC was meeting with each of his regional political desks. He rattled off candidates’ names — their strong suits, as well as their flaws — and dropped encyclopedic knowledge of each district.

Analysis: The Trump Agenda’s Unintentional International Consequences
Signs of fraying relationships among close allies starting to show up

Mexican presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised to put Donald Trump “in his place.” (Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, who preaches pro-business policies at home and more favorable terms for the United States in trade deals, may well help elect more anti-American leaders around the world and leave the United States more isolated and embattled.

We could see the first manifestation of this in Trump’s confrontational approach with Mexico. His positions on trade (particularly the North American Free Trade Agreement) and immigration, and his characterization of the people of Mexico, have boosted the prospects of presidential hopeful Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico’s July 1 election.

Florida Delegation Playing Hardball to Extend Offshore Drilling Moratorium
Sunshine State Democrats and Republicans may target NDAA

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., says he doesn’t see “any light between Republicans and Democrats” on the issue of offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Emboldened by a Defense Department report that expressed worries about unfettered offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, Florida’s House delegation is preparing to throw its weight around to win a multiyear extension of a moratorium off its coasts.

The bipartisan commitment from the third largest congressional delegation, reached last week, may affect the $708.1 billion defense authorization bill that is being considered by the Rules Committee Monday and Tuesday ahead of a vote as soon as Wednesday.

Podcast: Potential Hiccups to the Interior-Environment Spending Bill
CQ Budget, Episode 61

EPA Director Scott Pruitt arrives April 26, 2018 to testify before a House Energy and Commerce Environment Subcommittee on his agency's fiscal 2019 budget.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Blankenship to Run as Third-Party Senate Candidate in WV
Former convict says he’ll challenge state’s ‘sore loser’ law

Don Blankenship isn't giving up on his Senate quest. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who finished third in the West Virginia Republican Senate primary, plans to run for West Virginia Senate as a third-party candidate.

Blankenship announced on Monday he’d run as the Constitution Party nominee, Politico reported. He said he’s willing to challenge the state’s “sore loser” law that would prohibit him from running in the general election since he already lost a major party’s nomination.  

Who’s Going to Challenge Karen Handel Without Jon Ossoff?
Georgia’s 6th District primary is on Tuesday

GOP Rep. Karen Handel is running for her first full term, but there won’t be a rematch of last year’s special election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Georgia’s 6th District was in the news nonstop this time last year when the special election to fill former Republican Rep. Tom Price’s seat became the most expensive House race in history.

GOP nominee Karen Handel, the former Georgia secretary of state, ended up defeating big-spending Democrat Jon Ossoff by 4 points (with plenty of help from outside Republican groups). She is now running for her first full term.

Opinion: As Hurricane Season Approaches, It’s Time to Fix Disaster Funding
Our federal government should stop treating natural disasters as surprises

A school bus crosses a makeshift bridge for vehicles in Morovis, Puerto Rico, in December near where the original bridge was washed away by Hurricane Maria flooding. (Mario Tama/Getty Images file photo)

The official start of the Atlantic hurricane season is just over ten days away. As the nation continues to grapple with the emotional and economic scars of last year’s natural disasters, it is hard to fathom the possibility of a new spate of storms. And while we can’t predict the extent of trauma that awaits us in 2018, one thing is for sure — we are not prepared.

Last year, the United States saw 16 weather-related disasters that each exceeded $1 billion in costs and damages. Total costs of disaster recovery for the year are expected to surpass $300 billion.

Opinion: Trump’s Drug Pricing Plan Is Practical, but Is It Enough?
Administration’s blueprint aims to force drug companies to be more transparent

Opponents call President Donald Trump’s plan a win for pharmaceutical companies because it doesn’t ask Medicare to negotiate prices for Part B and D drugs, Wilensky writes. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)

A husband visits a local pharmacy to fill his ailing wife’s monthly asthma prescription, which costs $110. What he doesn’t know — and what his pharmacist can’t tell him — is that her Part D insurance plan isn’t helping to reduce the cost. In fact, it’s only hurting. They could have saved $35 by paying out-of-pocket.

That’s the kind of problem President Donald Trump aims to solve with his new drug price plan. The blueprint he released earlier this month is practical, focused squarely on executive actions that will force drug companies toward greater transparency. But will the White House’s pragmatism be enough?

DCCC Raises $11.2 Million in April
Haul includes $3.1 million in online donations

DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján pointed to “historic” grass-roots fundraising in announcing the committee’s cash haul last month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised $11.2 million in April, exceeding its monthly fundraising total at the same point last cycle.

Nearly $3.1 million of the April haul came from online donations, with an average donation of $16, according to figures provided first to Roll Call. The $11.2 million total surpassed the $8.5 million the campaign arm of the House Democrats raised in April 2016.