Energy, Interior Nominees Caught in Budget Crossfire
Energy and Natural Resources hearing becomes forum on Trump budget cuts

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., expressed home that one Energy Department nominee would be "a voice of reason and experience." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee used a Thursday confirmation hearing for a deputy Energy secretary and two other regulators to question elements of the Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal.

The confirmation hearing for Dan Brouillette to be Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s deputy included questions from senators seeking clarity from the nominee about his views of some of the more controversial proposals in the Trump budget, including the plan to draw down by half the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Rep. Lamar Smith Out of Touch With Science, Challenger Says
Aerospace engineer — a veteran — is taking on Science committee chairman

Lamar Smith chairs the House Science Space and Technology Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, is getting a Democratic challenger who says Smith is out of touch with science and his constituents.

Joseph Kopser announced Tuesday that he is taking on Smith, who is running for re-election for a 17th term in Congress in the solidly Republican central Texas district. Kopser, a combat veteran who served in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star, is one of a slew of candidates in science and technology fields running for elected office as political outsiders.

Democrats Grill Interior Nominee Over Energy Industry Ties
David Bernhardt wouldn't say whether he believes in climate change

Sen. Maria Cantwell said she was concerned whether David Bernhardt could avoid potential conflicts of interest with the energy industry in his new position as deputy Interior secretary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s deputy Interior secretary nominee David Bernhardt sidestepped questions during his Thursday confirmation hearing about whether he believes in climate change, saying instead that regardless of what the science says, he will follow the president’s the policy positions.

At the hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Republicans praised Bernhardt as “uniquely qualified” and Democrats raised objections to his long history as a lobbyist for oil, gas and mineral firms that could benefit from his appointment.

Energy Grant Freeze Worries Senators, Including Murkowski
’We are deeply troubled by reports that the Department of Energy has delayed awarding funds’

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, talks with reporters before the Senate Policy Luncheons in the Capitol on May 9, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators are seeking assurances that a Trump administration freeze on certain grants by the Department of Energy does not become permanent.

Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Wednesday that she sought “assurances” from DOE about the future of DOE research funding — currently on hold for a department-wide review — and indicated she endorsed inquiries to ensure those assurances are met.

Senators Push Back on Trump Drug Abuse Actions
Republicans pledge to fight funding cuts, shifts in criminal enforcement policy

West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito says she will push back against efforts to cut funds to the Office of National Drug Control Policy. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump pledged to tackle prescription drug abuse and the flow of illegal drugs into the country. But his White House efforts are off to a rocky start so far.

Earlier this year, Trump appointed New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to lead a opioid crisis task force. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, along with other administration officials including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have embarked on a listening tour of areas ravaged by the opioid epidemic.

Word on the Hill: Laura Bush Gets Women Making History Award
D.C. is no longer the most fit city

Former first lady Laura Bush will be honored in a video sent by former first lady Hillary Clinton.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The annual Women Making History Honors gala will honor former first lady Laura Bush for her contribution to inspiring women.

Former first lady, New York senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provided a video tribute for Bush. Other honorees this year include former NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, former NPR host Diane Rehm, and former U.S. Treasurer Rosie Rios.

Word on the Hill: Peace Officers’ Memorial Service
Your social calendar for the week

Fallen police officers will be honored at the annual Peace Officers’ Memorial Service this morning. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 36th annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service, an event to honor all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, will be at 11 a.m. today on the West Front of the Capitol.

From 12:01 a.m., cars will be blocked from driving in these areas: First Street NW/SW between Constitution and Independence avenues; Pennsylvania Avenue NW from First Street NW, to Third Street NW; and Maryland Avenue SW from First Street to Third Street. They will reopen at 5 p.m.

Western North Carolina Notices Meadows’ Newfound Notoriety
Supporters and protesters greet Freedom Caucus chairman back home

Rep. Mark Meadows gives advice to middle school students in McDowell County, North Carolina preparing for a cardboard boat competition. (Lindsey McPherson/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mark Meadows has long been a household name in western North Carolina, but his newfound notoriety outside the 11th District has not gone unnoticed by those back home.

“If you watch TV at all you know that our congressman is very much a mover and shaker in Washington, D.C.,” South Caldwell High School teacher Tony Crump said, as he introduced Meadows at a masonry competition Thursday for three area high schools.

With Comey Ouster, Trump Joins Select Group of Presidents
Most presidents who took such action fought mightily with Congress

Richard Nixon is part of a special fraternity of presidents with particularly contentious relationships with Congress. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey is far from the first time a chief executive has removed a potential threat. But the move puts the 45th president in a class that includes several presidents who ran into choppy waters with lawmakers.

Presidential historians say it is too soon to predict whether Comey’s dismissal will contribute to lawmakers reprimanding Trump. In fact, several said it is possible the termination will have no negative effect on the president’s ability to enact an agenda that includes a health care overhaul, tax cut package, massive infrastructure rebuild, and a bolstering of the military, among other items.

Morgan Griffith Talks Trump With Middle Schoolers
Virginia Republican drops by Glade Spring school to talk shop

Rep. Morgan Griffith told middle school students in Glade Spring, Va., that President Donald Trump is "an interesting character." (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GLADE SPRING, Va.-- President Donald Trump is not just a point of intrigue in Washington. Middle school students visited by Rep. Morgan Griffith here Wednesday seemed rather curious about the new president.

The Virginia Republican dropped by Glade Spring Middle School to present the students and teachers with a flag that had flown over the Capitol, and then also took questions from a few dozen sixth and seventh graders gathered in the gymnasium.