infrastructure

Rise of fintech weakens law to prevent lending discrimination
The number of bank branches with a Community Reinvestment Act obligation to provide loans and other services is falling

The growth of online banking has poked some holes in the Community Reinvestment Act. (Ali Balikci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images file photo)

As online banking threatens to make in-person banking at brick-and-mortar branches as archaic as video rental stores, it may do the same to a 1977 law created to counteract decades of underinvestment in minority neighborhoods.

The Community Reinvestment Act was Congress’ response all those years ago to redlining — the practice of discriminatory lending that denied or offered more expensive credit to minorities and the poor and led to urban blight and white flight from city centers.

Supreme Court term to be punctuated by presidential politics
Docket ‘almost guarantees’ court shifting further and faster to the right, expert says

Activists hold up signs at an abortion-rights rally at Supreme Court in Washington to protest new state bans on abortion services on Tuesday May 21, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Supreme Court will confront ideological issues such as immigration and LGBT rights that have sharply divided Congress and the nation in a new term starting Monday that will bring more scrutiny to the justices during a heated presidential campaign season.

In many ways, the nine justices are still settling into a new internal dynamic with two President Donald Trump appointees in as many years. The court had few high-profile cases last term, amid the drama of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh’s confirmation that gripped the nation and solidified the court’s conservative ideological tilt.

DOT official denies allegations that Chao helped her family’s company
Oversight committee questioned whether Transportation secretary's TV appearances with family in China were improper

Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao shakes hands with Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee on Sept. 19. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Allegations that Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao used her office to help the shipping company owned by her father and sister are “simply false,” a Transportation Department official told the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday.

Adam Sullivan, the departments’s assistant secretary of governmental affairs, said in a letter to Chairman Elijah E. Cummings that Chao is not involved with the management or operations of her family’s shipping company, Foremost Group, and does not have a financial stake in the company.

How ‘resilience’ became a politically safe word for ‘climate change’
Both parties increasingly agree on investing in infrastructure upgrades to better withstand extreme weather

Water floods Highway 12 in Nags Head, N.C., as Hurricane Dorian hits the area on Sept. 6. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Climate change remains a deeply divisive term in some corners of Capitol Hill, but lawmakers from both parties are embracing the concept of “resilience” — building infrastructure engineered to better withstand devastating wind and floods associated with a warming planet.

The idea of building infrastructure better equipped to deal with natural disasters is appealing to fiscal conservatives who are loathe to keep spending taxpayer dollars rebuilding federal infrastructure just to see it destroyed again.

White House threatens to shut down legislative process during impeachment inquiry
Move comes after Speaker Pelosi accused president of a ‘breach of his Constitutional responsibilities’

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., departs from a meeting of the House chairmen to discuss impeachment in Speaker Pelosi’s office on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Something might have finally ended Infrastructure Week: House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

Hours after Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced a formal impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump after he admitted both discussing with Ukraine’s new president his desire for the country’s government to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden and holding up a military aid package to Kiev, his White House threatened to shut down work on major legislation.

Watch out 2020 Democrats, Trump might have a long game
3 takeaways from the president’s New Mexico rally as he tries to flip state Clinton won in 2016

President Donald Trump on Monday night enters a campaign rally at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. The rally marks President Trump's first trip to New Mexico as president and the start of a three-day campaign trip to New Mexico and California. (Cengiz Yar/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Donald Trump’s rally Monday night in New Mexico was billed as an opportunity for the president to try expanding his base and flip a state he lost in 2016. But his message — again — offered little new to moderate swing voters.

Trump’s Rio Rancho campaign stop was calculated, with his campaign looking to flip a small handful of states won in 2016 by Hillary Clinton; she won New Mexico by 8.3 percentage points. It was the second state she won to which he has traveled to headline a rally this year; he was in New Hampshire last month. Collectively, there are nine Electoral College votes between the two states.

Census falling further behind in hiring outreach staff
Partnership specialists are critical to reach hard-to-count populations

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in July that the “the bricks and mortar [strategy] wasn’t working” to protect the agency’s shrinking number of area Census offices and closure of its Questionnaire Assistance Centers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Census officials continue to fall behind their goals for hiring local outreach staff, a critical component in promoting the 2020 census among the hardest-to-count populations in the country, agency officials told an advisory committee.

While several aspects of the preparations, including address verification, are on or ahead of schedule, the U.S. Census Bureau said it remains more than 200 people short of its goal of hiring 1,500 local partnership staff ahead of next year’s count. The hiring problems have come as the agency ramps up for the 2020 enumeration that will be used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state, how federal funds are allocated, and to structure economic surveys.

Cannon renewal could be $100 million over budget; hazardous materials found
Project has not yet fully completed Phase 1 yet

The Cannon House Office Building renovation has encountered several hurdles. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The project to renovate the Cannon House Office Building could climb more than $100 million over budget, a process that has, in part, been delayed by the discovery of hazardous materials and a fluid list of changes requested by the Architect of the Capitol that deviates from the original plan.

Terrell Dorn, managing director for infrastructure operations at the Government Accountability Office, notes in testimony submitted for Tuesday’s House Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Cannon project that the Architect of the Capitol expects the total building renovation cost to increase substantially from the initial estimate.

With Congress back, Trump tells staff he doesn’t want another shutdown
Hill envoy details to-do list, which could face obstacles, including from White House

President Donald Trump has told his staff to avoid a government shutdown, but several obstacles remain to getting spending deals, as well as other legislative priorities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House has an ambitious autumn and winter legislative agenda that includes avoiding another government shutdown and winning approval of a sweeping trade pact — but a key official says legislation aimed at preventing mass shootings is not certain to move this year.

Both chambers returned Monday from a rather bloody August recess in which more than 40 people died during mass shootings in four states. Members of both parties say they want to move some kind of bill aimed at curbing gun violence amid polling that shows large majorities of Republican and Democratic voters want Washington to act. But no plan that could pass the House and Senate — and get President Donald Trump’s signature — has emerged.

Retiring lawmakers will face tough market on K Street
‘K Street is not hungering for former members,’ senator-turned-lobbyist Norm Coleman says

In most cases, it’s congressional staff members who K Street really clamors for. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street recruiters are poring over the list of 21, and counting, lawmakers planning to exit Congress, but the lobbying sector may offer a shrinking supply of big-money gigs heading into the 2020 elections. 

As more House members and senators consider making their escape from Capitol Hill, the realities of the K Street economy and the well-worn revolving door will be among their considerations, say insiders at lobbying firms and downtown headhunters.