Rob Bishop

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.

Texas Rep. Conaway, top Republican on Agriculture panel, not seeking reelection
Eight-term congressman to leave open seat in deep red district

Rep. K. Michael Conaway is not seeking reelection in 2020. The top Republican on the Agriculture Committee is term-limited from staying in that position. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Texas Republican Rep. K. Michael Conaway, ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, is planning to retire at the end of his current term, according to GOP sources. 

Conaway’s decision not to seek reelection in 2020, which he is not expected to formally announce until a press conference Wednesday, leaves an open seat in the deep red 11th District, a part of West central Texas that President Donald Trump won by 59 points in 2016.

How recent House retirements change the battleground in Texas and Michigan
More members will follow Olson and Mitchell and forego 2020 if historical trends hold

Texas Rep. Pete Olson of Texas will not run for another term in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Reps. Pete Olson of Texas and Paul Mitchell of Michigan recently announced they will not seek reelection, but how much do their decisions affect the fight for the House majority? Open seats are usually more vulnerable than districts where an incumbent is seeking another term, but these two retirements aren’t political earthquakes.

First, we are still well below the historical average for retirements, so there will be plenty more of these stories to come.

Some House members are contemplating retirement, according to history
GOP departures last cycle helped fuel Democrats’ takeover

The decision by Rep. José E. Serrano, D-N.Y., to retire isn’t likely to affect the 2020 election map, since Hillary Clinton carried his district by 89 points in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the unofficial kickoff of summer, Memorial Day is a time to remember the fallen, spend time with family and grill meats. But history tells us it’s also a time for more than a handful of members to reconsider their future in the House.

Going back to 1976, an average of 23 House members have not sought re-election or another office each election cycle. So far this cycle, just four have made that decision, which means more retirements will come and competitive open seats could change the fight for the majority.

House passes plus-upped disaster aid package

Relief for Puerto Rico after deadly hurricanes is among the issues hanging up a broader disaster aid package in Congress. (Angel Valentin/Getty Images)

The House passed a $19.1 billion disaster aid package to help victims of recent storms and flooding rebuild, with the price tag growing by about $1.8 billion on the floor through amendments to add funds for repairing damaged military facilities, highways, levees, dams and more.

The vote was 257-150, with 34 Republicans crossing the aisle to support the bill drafted by the Democratic majority. President Donald Trump and GOP leaders tried to tamp down defections on the bill, which they oppose because it would pump more money into Puerto Rico, which hasn’t yet been able to spend much of the $20 billion previously appropriated after 2017′s Hurricane Maria.

KFC, the Grim Reaper and an epically long bill reading: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of April 29, 2019

An aide adjusts the name plate for Attorney General William Barr before a House Judiciary Committee hearing. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Newly disclosed meetings with industry create ethics questions for Interior secretary
Lawmakers interested interior secretary’s calendars because of former career as energy lobbyist

Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s daily schedules have some interesting entries. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Recently posted versions of acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s daily schedules contain at least 260 differences from his original schedules, with the newest records showing meetings previously described as “external” or “internal” were actually with representatives of fossil fuel, timber, mining and other industries, according to a review by CQ Roll Call.

Events left out of the original calendars but now disclosed or detailed further include a keynote address at the Trump International Hotel in Washington for the industry group Domestic Energy Producers Alliance, encounters with executives at Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell, and a meeting with the chairman of a conservative group Bernhardt previously represented in litigation that environmentalists believe was geared toward weakening the Endangered Species Act.

Thanks to Mueller, foreign agents come under greater scrutiny
New focus on the influence business is no ‘flash in the pan’

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn filed a retroactive foreign agent registration after leaving the White House and later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images file photo)

The special counsel’s nearly two-year probe of Russian interference in the 2016 elections may have let the president himself mostly off the hook, but one sector emerged positively scathed: international lobbying.

Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation resulted in the convictions of onetime lobbyists, of course, but more consequentially, it put an unprecedented glare on the sometimes shadowy foreign influence campaigns that play out on U.S. soil — and the disclosure rules of those engagements.

An overeager legal strategy may endanger Trump’s energy goals
In haste to pass its “energy dominance” agenda, the administration has suffered dozens of losses in court

Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and ranking member Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., are seen before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing in Dirksen Building on “electricity sector in a changing climate” on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was unhappy with an April 5 ruling by Sharon Gleason, a federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, who found that President Donald Trump had unlawfully lifted a ban prohibiting drilling in the Arctic Ocean, dealing the president’s fossil-fuel energy agenda a major blow.

“I strongly disagree with this ruling,” said Murkowski, who wants to open her state’s land and water to increased oil and gas leasing. “I expect this decision to be appealed and ultimately overturned.”

Bipartisan lands bill protecting millions of acres and 650 miles of river to get House vote
The bill is expected to remain identical to what the Senate passed Feb. 12

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., left, and Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, I-N. Marianas on Tuesday, February 12, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A public lands bill that the Senate passed two weeks ago with overwhelming bipartisan support will get a vote in the House on Tuesday.

The bill is expected to remain identical to what the Senate passed Feb. 12. House Natural Resources Chairman Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona had promised Senate supporters that he would urge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to quickly bring up the package in the House if the upper chamber passed it without significant changes to a deal agreed to last year.