Trade

A blockchain bill, backed by industry, may tie SEC’s hands
The bill would provide a safe harbor from federal securities regulations for digital currencies and other blockchain-based products

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio, leaves the House Republican Conference meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Wednesday morning, June 13, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even as the nation’s infant blockchain industry lines up in support of a new bipartisan bill to exempt digital tokens from Securities and Exchange Commission oversight, others warn about the dangers of Congress making the situation worse.

The bill from Reps. Warren Davidson, an Ohio Republican, and Darren Soto, a Florida Democrat, would provide a safe harbor from federal securities regulations for digital currencies and other blockchain-based products. But outside of the young sector’s backers, some worry that the bill goes too far in its current form.

Trump weighs tariffs or quotas on uranium imports
The nuclear power industry argues import limits would bring higher costs for electricity producers and force some out of business

U.S. Department of Commerce building in Washington (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is considering a Commerce Department report on whether imported uranium ore poses a threat to U.S. national security and the domestic production of nuclear power.

The president will weigh whether to impose tariffs or quotas on imported uranium following claims by the uranium mining industry that limits on foreign uranium imports are necessary to aid a shrinking industry. The nuclear power industry, meanwhile, argues import limits would bring higher costs for electricity producers and force some out of business.

Ky. Rep. says Ocasio-Cortez tweet is uncivil and puts coal mine tour in doubt
Rep. Andy Barr asked her to educate coal miners about the Green New Deal

Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., addressed a letter to the office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about civility this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Kentucky congressman who invited Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to tour a coal mine in his district appeared to rescind the invitation this week after she tweeted a critique of fellow Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

Ocasio-Cortez acted uncivilly when she criticized Crenshaw, Rep. Andy Barr said Monday.

Sen. Blumenthal joins chorus offering robocall remedy with ROBOCOP Act
Americans received roughly 47.8 billion robocalls last year, nearly half of them were from scammers

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., is one of many lawmakers to introduce legislation to combat robocalls. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Richard Blumenthal was the latest in a chorus of lawmakers from both parties to decry robocalls, an irritant that afflicts nearly anyone in the U.S. who owns a mobile phone.

The Connecticut Democrat on Monday reintroduced the so-called ROBOCOP Act that would require mobile phone companies to provide free robocall-blocking technology to their customers.

Congress might finally help the IRS trade in its old clunkers for newer computers
Updates to the agency’s systems could provide new features and web-based solutions to taxpayers

IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig testifies during a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government hearing in Rayburn Building on the IRS’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig likes to compare the IRS’ past-their-prime computer systems to an aging car. In the case of this clunker, he puts the repair bill at somewhere between $2.3 billion and $2.7 billion.

That’s the cost of the IRS’ six-year modernization plan, intended to make dealing with the agency more like banking online, a goal it has attempted, and missed, in the past.

Rep. Ilhan Omar condemns Trump for endangering the lives of Muslims
Omar raised the concern that the president's first visit to her home state of Minnesota could stoke violence

Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Dean Phillips, D-Minn., make their way to the Supreme Court for a rally with Congressional Democrats on a resolution condemning a federal court ruling overturning the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Ilhan Omar condemned the president Sunday for endangering her life and the lives of other Muslims, after he posted a video to Twitter Friday evening that splices a clip of the Minnesota Democrat speaking to a Muslim civil rights organization with footage of the World Trade Center burning on 9/11.

The congresswoman said she has experienced a sharp increase in threats since President Donald Trump posted the video. She said President Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric emboldens white nationalists and far-right extremists prone to violence. 

Louisiana wants some gator aid
A pending ban on alligator products has lawmakers scrambling

An alligator surfaces in a pond near located near the Space Shuttle Discovery as it sits on launch pad 39b at Kennedy Space Center Dec. 8, 2006, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A united Louisiana congressional delegation is lobbying a key California official to try to avert a pending Golden State ban on the “importation, possession or sale of alligator and crocodile products.”

Gators are big business in Louisiana. The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries estimates alligator harvesting is a $50 million-a-year industry in the state. It says ranchers collect over 350,000 alligator eggs, trappers harvest over 28,000 wild alligators and farmers harvest over 250,000 farm-raised alligators annually.

House Democrats give IRS an extension to provide Trump tax returns
Ways and Means chairman wants six years of president’s returns by April 23

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal is giving the IRS more time to turn in President Donald Trump’s tax returns. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal is giving the IRS an extension until 5 p.m. on April 23 to produce the six years of President Donald Trump’s tax returns he requested earlier this month.

The Massachusetts Democrat told IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig in a letter Saturday that the agency has failed to produce the tax returns despite an “unambiguous legal obligation to do so” under Section 6103 of the tax code. If Rettig declines to turn over the records by the new deadline, Neal wrote that “your failure will be interpreted as a denial of my request.”

Hemp concerns and trade jitters top agriculture appropriations hearing
The Agriculture Department’s request includes cuts to research, rural housing and international humanitarian food programs

Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue takes his seat to testify during the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate appropriators had trade woes and the promise of industrial hemp on their minds Thursday as they sought assurances from Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue of better times for farmers in their states.

Perdue testified before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee on the president’s $15.7 billion request for discretionary funding for the Agriculture Department. The request is more than $4.2 billion lower than the enacted level for fiscal 2019 and includes cuts to research, rural housing, international humanitarian food programs and other areas popular with lawmakers.

Can across-the-aisle friendships survive the Trump era?
Aides see partisan tensions encroaching on typically neutral ground

The Capitol Lounge has long been a popular hangout for congressional staffers. Can aides from the different parties keep breaking bread together in the Trump era? (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For decades, at the end of a long day, it wasn’t unusual for Republican and Democratic congressional staffers to leave their differences at the negotiating table and head to the bar to hang out.

But as the pre-2016 crowd moves into more senior positions — or says “See ya” to the Hill for gigs on K Street — many veteran staffers fret that the 20-somethings taking their places are not making as many strong friendships across the aisle.