Raul M Grijalva

California water politics complicate House panel’s oversight
Natural Resources chairman wants to investigate Interior secretary’s role in water allocation report that benefited a committee member’s district

California Democratic Rep. Jim Costa represents part of California’s San Joaquin Valley, a drought-prone region where the politics surrounding agricultural and water interests can often trump partisanship. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona wants his committee to give him subpoena authority for multiple possible investigations, but California Democrat Jim Costa may vote against that as the panel considers whether Interior Secretary David Bernhardt improperly influenced a decision to send more water to his district.

Costa told CQ Roll Call he’s not sure he can support giving Grijalva such unlimited subpoena authority. Costa said he discussed the matter with the chairman, who plans a committee vote on the question in January, and said he’d support a “specific subpoena” in the panel’s current investigation into the Bureau of Land Management headquarters relocation. 

Study shows growing ocean damage as protection bills languish
Finds most ocean acidification, which harms marine life and coastal economies, has been triggered by 88 companies, including Exxon Mobil

A slide shows growing acidification of the world’s oceans during a presentation of data at a climate conference in Spain earlier this month.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As lawmakers push legislation to protect the nation’s coastal waters, scientists are placing much of the blame for degrading ocean conditions on emissions from large energy companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., which was cleared Tuesday in a long-running climate court case.

A study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters found that carbon emissions from the largest energy and cement companies are responsible for more than half of a damaging side effect: increasing acidity in the planet’s oceans, which harms marine life and coastal economies.

New census data: About 1 million same-sex households in US
Same-sex married and unmarried couples make up about 1 percent of all homes

John Lewis, left, and Stuart Gaffney, of San Francisco, hold heart signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court before the start of oral arguments on marriage equality in 2015. The couple were plaintiffs in the 2008 court case challenging California's same-sex marriage ban. Same-sex couples now make up 1 percent of all homes, new census data shows. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Census Bureau estimates about 1 million same-sex married and unmarried couples are living together nationwide, according to new figures released Tuesday.

Same-sex households make up about 1 percent of all homes, according to data released as part of the Current Population Survey and the first time such figures were included in its main results. The estimates provide a limited glimpse into the LGBTQ population in America, which has not shown up in federal surveys for much of the nation’s history.

Interior nears a contract with a company its secretary used to lobby for
Conservation groups fear water deal will be a hazard for protected salmon and other aquatic life

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt testifies in May 2019. The department he leads is close to completing a contract for a water district he represented as a lobbyist. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Interior Department is close to completing a permanent water supply contract for a water district once represented by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt as a lobbyist, despite concerns that doing so would imperil aquatic species including endangered salmon. 

Conservation groups say the deal between the Interior Department and the Westlands Water District, which serves and is run by farmers in California’s Central Valley, promises to permanently divert more federally managed water to the district just as climate change threatens to make the state hotter and more prone to extreme drought.

Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ tradition very much alive on Capitol Hill
Offices display lively altars with vibrant colors and food for dead relatives

A Día de los Muertos altar is on display in the office of Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva on Capitol Hill on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Marilyn Zepeda may have left Mexico, but she made sure to bring along a piece of its culture to the United States: vibrant “papel picado,” loaves of “Pan de Muerto” and photos of the dead.

The legislative correspondent for Arizona Democratic Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, who is himself the son of a Mexican immigrant, Zepeda has been in Washington, D.C., just over a year, and she’s already raising spirits around the office. After all, it’s almost the Day of the Dead, or “Día de Los Muertos.”

Road ahead: More impeachment depositions, plus Turkey legislation and a Boeing hearing
House will also consider a Grand Canyon protection bill

The impeachment inquiry being overseen by House committee leaders including California’s Adam B. Schiff, will again take center stage this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump will again take center stage at the Capitol this week, though there will also be legislative push-back in the House against Turkey and its incursion into Syria against the Kurds.

The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees have another full docket of depositions scheduled this week as part of their impeachment inquiry.

GOP members confirm Bernhardt met with group tied to ex-client
Democrats might be focusing on meetings and calls kept off Interior secretary’s official calendar

Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt testifies during his Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee confirmation hearing on March 28, 2019. (File photo by Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans on two House committees probing Interior Secretary David Bernhardt acknowledged in a report Thursday that the attorney and former energy lobbyist appeared to have met with the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association, a trade group affiliated with a former Bernhardt client.

The joint report from Republican staff on the House Oversight and Reform, and Natural Resources committees also said ethics officials at the Interior Department approved the meeting with the trade group. The report, by acknowledging the meeting, may also indicate where the majority Democrats are focusing their examination into whether Bernhardt kept phone calls and meetings with industry representatives and groups off his public calendar.

Ethics panel still investigating Grijalva on hostile work environment
Committee wants additional documents pertaining to former staffer who was paid settlement

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., was caught off guard by the Ethics Committee's request for more documentation regarding its investigation of a possible hostile work environment. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Ethics Committee has requested documents from Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva as it continues to examine allegations into whether he cultivated a hostile work environment.

The ongoing investigation, first reported by E&E News, was a surprise to Grijalva, who faced an allegation of wrongdoing concerning a $48,000 settlement paid to a female member of his staff in 2015, which was dismissed in December 2018 by the House Ethics Committee.

Bernhardt nears confirmation, but Capitol Hill isn’t finished with him
Grijalva wants acting Interior chief to testify on at least two different oversight probes

David Bernhardt appears likely to be confirmed as Interior secretary this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt will likely be confirmed in the Senate by a comfortable margin this week — but that could be his easiest day on Capitol Hill for a while.

The Senate voted 56-41 Wednesday evening to end debate on the nomination after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier in the day that he expected the chamber to be “voting to confirm” Bernhardt “later this week.” And while some coastal Republicans have raised concerns about the Interior Department’s plans for opening all U.S. coasts to oil and gas drilling, there doesn’t appear to be enough GOP opposition to derail confirmation.

Rep. Paul Gosar wants to redesignate Cesar Chavez Day as ‘National Border Control Day’
The resolution reflects a priority of the Center for Immigration Studies

Rep. Paul Gosar is fighting a lawsuit from constituents he once blocked on Facebook. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Cal file photol)

Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar introduced a resolution last week to designate the birthday of Cesar Chavez, March 31st, as “National Border Control Day.”

Many celebrate the birthday of Chavez, the iconic co-founder of the United Farm Workers union born to a Mexican American family, as a day to reflect on the dignity of agricultural workers and the contribution of Latinx immigrants to the United States.