Frank Pallone Jr

Climate-focused Democrats hope for November reward
They seek to solidify themselves as the party of climate action

Jane Fonda, center, and Susan Sarandon, red scarf, march toward the Capitol on Friday during a weekly rally to call for action on climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats know that their “comprehensive” climate plans are unlikely to see the light of day in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate and face vetoes by a president who has at times rejected the scientific consensus on global warming.

But there’s a strategy afoot to solidify Democrats’ election-year banner as the party of climate action and lure young, independent and even Republican voters disgruntled with the Trump administration’s retreat on environmental issues, analysts say.

Jeff Van Who? Democrats slam Van Drew, talk Jersey justice for party flipper
Van Drew says he's not ready to make an announcement but signals switch is imminent

Rep. Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey did not show up to vote or attend a Democratic Caucus on Tuesday after news broke over the weekend that he plans to switch to the Republican Party after voting this week against impeaching President Donald Trump. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 8:33 p.m. | New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew, appearing at the Capitol Tuesday afternoon for the first time since news broke this weekend that he’s planning to switch parties, told reporters he’s not ready to announce his decision.

“I’ve not made a decision that I’m willing to share with anybody for a short period of time,” the freshman Democrat said, not denying he would soon be a Republican.

‘A real gift to Big Tech’: Both parties object to immunity provision in USMCA
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act hotly debated on the Hill this year

A chapter of the trade agreement based on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter immunity from liability for user content posted on their sites. (Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Technology companies scored a win last week when provisions giving them broad immunity from lawsuits over third-party content on their platforms were included in a draft trade agreement with Canada and Mexico despite staunch opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.

The inclusion of the provisions in the proposed trade agreement is notable because the 1996 law on which they’re based has been the topic of heated debate on Capitol Hill this year, with prominent members of both parties arguing that the United States should not set up protections for technology companies operating abroad when those protections at home could be altered or done away with by Congress in the near future.

Deal banning surprise medical bills also ups tobacco purchase age to 21
The agreement raises the odds of Congress passing legislation meant to lower some health care costs this year

Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., left, and Ranking Member Frank Pallone, D-N.J., talk during a House Energy and Commerce Committee markup in 2017. Walden, Pallone and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced a tentative deal to ban surprise medical bills Sunday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Key House and Senate committee leaders announced a bipartisan agreement Sunday on draft legislation to prohibit surprise medical bills and raise the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21.

The agreement raises the odds of Congress clearing measures intended to lower some health care costs before the end of the year.

Pelosi: Climate panel is not just ‘an academic endeavor’
Select committee headed by Castor said to be readying recommendations for ‘major’ legislation in 2020

Castor's climate panel is to make recommendations for legislation in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats will unveil major climate legislation in the spring after the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis releases a set of recommendations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.

Pelosi said House Democrats would follow the conclusions of the committee, which was established at the start of this Congress and has held more than a dozen hearings on climate change and its underpinning science, to draft what she said would be bipartisan legislation.

How robocalls may be the thing to unite Congress
CQ on Congress, Ep. 178

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on health care reform in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Robocall compromise bill set up for quick House passage
Text of the Pallone-Thune bill was released Wednesday

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., teamed up with Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D., to introduce a compromise robocalls bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s one issue that is likely to unite Congress before the end of the year: tackling the robocall epidemic plaguing phones of lawmakers and constituents alike. House and Senate lawmakers released text Wednesday of a bipartisan compromise measure that merges the House and Senate versions passed earlier this year.

The joint bill will require phone companies to verify that phone numbers are real and block robocalls without charging consumers any extra money. The measure also pushes the Justice Department to bring more criminal prosecutions against robocallers and gives the Federal Communications Commission more time and authority to investigate and punish illegal robocallers.

Democrats plant a flag with bill to eliminate carbon emissions
Proposal has 150 co-sponsors in House but unlikely to move in Senate

Rep. Donald McEachin, D-Va., is the lead sponsor of the bill, which would direct federal agencies to determine how to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats have offered their most ambitious climate legislation since progressives offered the now languishing Green New Deal resolution in February.

The new bill, introduced Thursday with more than 150 Democratic co-sponsors including Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone Jr. of New Jersey, would have federal agencies determine how to reduce net U.S. carbon emissions to zero by 2050 — and to write regulations to meet that goal.

Facebook, other social media sites pressured to protect census
Members of Congress are pushing social media companies like Facebook to protect the census from disinformation

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, arrives to testify during the House Financial Services hearing on Oct. 23, 2019. Members of Congress are pushing social media companies like Facebook to protect the census from disinformation. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Members of Congress are increasing pressure on social media companies to protect next year’s census from disinformation online, concerned that foreign governments and internet trolls could disrupt the 2020 enumeration.

The latest push comes in a letter the Congressional Asian-Pacific American Caucus sent Thursday to Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, asking her to speak with group members about steps to both promote the census and “combat interference and disinformation on its platform.” Russia or another country may try to push the census off course, they say, and Facebook and other companies should be prepared.

Coal-burning utility boosts lobbying, may get eased regulations
New rules proposed by Trump administration would eliminate some Obama-era environmental protections for coal ash

A coal ash pile in Guayama, Puerto Rico. The pile’s owner, Arlington-based AES Corp., has asked the Trump administration to relax regulations for the disposal of toxic residues from burning coal.  (Courtesy Mabette Colon)

On Oct. 2, 19-year-old Mabette Colon traveled from her hometown in Puerto Rico to Arlington, Virginia, to try to persuade the EPA to abandon its efforts to ease regulations for the disposal of toxic residues from burning coal.

Colon said she grew up less than a mile from what activists describe as a nine-story-tall pile of coal ash owned by Arlington-based AES Corp. in the town of Guayama. She worries that under the Trump administration revisions proposed Monday, which have not yet been publicly released, the company could pollute with impunity and further expose her community to the toxic pollutants that have sickened her neighbors.