science

Military bases unprepared for gathering climate change storm 
Responses to hurricanes, flooding already raising alarm bells in Congress and beyond

Months after Hurricane Michael struck Tyndall Air Force Base in October, the main hangar’s roof is badly damaged. (Elvina Nawaguna/CQ Roll Call file photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — A mangled red, white and blue patrol plane still lies across what was once a park here where families played and picnicked, nine months after Hurricane Michael stormed out of the Gulf of Mexico with its 155-mile-per-hour winds.

And beyond that wreckage and other detritus, about 300 of this Air Force base’s nearly 500 damaged buildings are slated to be razed. The Air Force wants at least $4.25 billion to rebuild Tyndall at its current location on the Florida panhandle, a process the 325th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Brian Laidlaw, said could take several years.

Lawmakers put funding ban on human embryo gene editing research in Ag. bill
The rider bars the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos

From left, Reps. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., and Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., attend a House Appropriations Committee markup of the FY 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill in Rayburn Building on July 25, 2018. By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., to put back language banning the funding of research involving the gene editing of human embryos, which has been in the spending bill since fiscal 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Appropriators did some soul searching Tuesday before deciding to include a policy rider in the fiscal 2020 Agriculture spending bill that would bar the Food and Drug Administration from approving research that involves gene-editing of human embryos.

By voice vote, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. Robert B. Aderholt, R-Ala., to put back language that had been in the spending bill since fiscal 2016 but was omitted in the draft bill approved on May 23 by the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

Lawmakers fear that the FBI and TSA are misusing facial recognition tech
Law enforcement and national security agencies implementing new technology ‘without any real guard rails,’ top Democrat warns

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer instructs an international traveler to look into a camera as he uses facial recognition technology to screen a traveler entering the United States on February 27, 2018 at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida. Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform grilled leaders of the FBI and Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday about whether they are running afoul of privacy and transparency laws in their use of facial recognition software. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Both Democrats and Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Reform grilled leaders of the FBI and Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday about how their use of facial recognition software conflicts with transparency and privacy laws.

“This technology is evolving extremely rapidly without any real guard rails,” Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings warned in his opening statement at Tuesday’s hearing, the panel’s second in less than a month on facial recognition. “Whether we are talking about commercial use or government use, there are real concerns about the risks that this technology poses to our civil rights and liberties and our right to privacy.”

Ex-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher joins ‘Craigslist of weed’ board
California Republican was a longtime champion of cannabis while in Congress

Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., has joined the board of a company dubbed the “Craigslist of weed.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher has become a major shareholder and advisory board member of BudTrader, a California-based marijuana advertising website that has been christened the “Craigslist of Weed.

“I’m proud to announce I’ve joined [BudTrader] as a shareholder and advisory board member, so I may continue the fight for cannabis legalization on a national level,” the California Republican tweeted earlier this week.

Drug pricing legislation may not affect a new $2.1 million gene therapy drug
The blockbuster drug Zolgensma, which treats spinal muscular atrophy, is now the most expensive drug in the world

The outside of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters is seen in White Oak, Md. The agency approved a $2.1 million Novartis therapy for spinal muscular atrophy Friday, making it the world’s most expensive drug. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The recent approval of a treatment poised to become the world’s most expensive drug comes as Congress debates measures meant to address high prices — yet so far what lawmakers are attempting might not impact cases like this $2.1 million therapy.

The FDA announced Friday it was approving Novartis AG’s gene therapy Zolgensma, a one-time treatment designed to help young children with spinal muscular atrophy. The agency’s announcement said the safety and effectiveness of the drug was based on clinical trials that yielded positive results for patients with the rare disease.

The politics of abortion surge to forefront of 2020 debate
Georgia, other states move polarizing topic to front burner with new laws

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a Democratic presidential candidate, traveled to Atlanta last week to rally for abortion rights in the wake of the state passing a law restricting them. The issue has returned to the political fore as several states pass laws to restrict abortion. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It’s the worst day of your life. You’ve been told that your unborn baby is dying inside of you and you are presented with two horrible options: medically induce labor to deliver her early or carry the dangerous pregnancy to term, when your baby will suffocate outside of your womb.

At that gruesome moment, your state representative, a 63-year-old part-time farmer, walks into the exam room and tells you what he thinks you should do. If you choose anything else, you and your doctor could both be prosecuted for murder.

Here are the 3 Republicans who bucked Trump on the Paris climate accord
No Democrat broke party ranks, while 4 in GOP did not vote

Florida Rep. Vern Buchanan joined two of his Republican colleagues in siding with Democrats on Thursday’s climate vote. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Three Republicans — including two from safe seats — sided with Democrats on Thursday in voting for a measure that would stop President Donald Trump from pulling out of the Paris climate accord.

The bill passed the House, 231-190. Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Vern Buchanan of Florida voted with the Democrats. Four Republicans — including Florida’s Francis Rooney, who’s been an outspoken Republican voice on the dangers of climate change — did not vote. He’s in Florida recovering from knee replacement surgery. 

Legislative Branch spending bill opens door for employing Dreamers on Capitol Hill
$3.9 billion measure would boost funding for interns, revive defunct technology office

House appropriators released a $3.9 billion House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill Tuesday ahead of subcommittee action set for Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats touted the revival of the defunct Office of Technology Assessment and the legal employment of so-called Dreamers in the $3.94 billion House Legislative Branch Appropriations bill they released Tuesday.

The fiscal 2020 proposal includes an overall proposed increase of $135 million, or 3.6 percent more than the current funding level, according to a summary. The Legislative Branch subcommittee is set to take up the bill at a markup on Wednesday.

Gaetz is trying to sell AOC on a ‘Green Real Deal’ but progressives aren’t buying it
Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions helped draft the proposal

Rep. Matt Gaetz, F-Fla., conducts a news conference at the House Triangle to unveil climate change legislation the Green Real Deal, on Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Matt Gaetz introduced the Green Real Deal on Wednesday, a competing resolution to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal, a sign the ambitious plan to combat climate change championed by the Democratic star has convinced some in the Republican Caucus of the need for a conservative counterproposal.

“History will judge harshly my colleagues who deny the science of climate change, and similarly those Democrats who would use climate change as an excuse to regulate the American experience out of existence,” the Florida Republican said at a news conference outside the Capitol.

House members call for Office of Technology Assessment revival

Reps. Sean Casten, pictured here, and Mark Takano urged colleagues to fund and revive the Office of Technology Assessment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Reps. Sean Casten and Mark Takano appealed to their colleagues Tuesday to fund and restore a Capitol Hill technology agency that was defunded more than 20 years ago, as advocates say it could help Congress’s capacity to understand emerging technology and its social and policy implications.

The Office of Technology Assessment, often referred to as OTA, provided Congress with objective analysis of complex technology issues from 1972 to 1995. The agency’s mission was to ensure the lawmakers had information they needed on new or expanding technologies and objective information assessing impacts, policy proposals and scientific expertise “to match that of the executive branch.”