Energy & Environment

Court tells teen plaintiffs it can’t force climate policy changes
Majority agreed the teens showed the federal government ‘has long promoted fossil fuel use despite knowing that it can cause catastrophic climate change’

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court in September.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court said Friday that young climate activists established that government policies worsened climate change but dismissed the activists’ case seeking to force policy changes, ruling it was beyond the court’s power.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel accepted the argument that climate change had accelerated in recent years and that government policies encouraged fossil fuel use even as authorities knew it could have disastrous consequences. But the Constitution doesn’t empower courts to force such sweeping changes to policies at several federal agencies, the majority ruled.

Impeachment news roundup: Jan. 16
Collins said she may be leaning toward calling at least some witnesses for trial

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., lead the group of House impeachment managers to the Senate side of the Capitol on Thursday to read the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats led by Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer reiterated they want to hear the testimony of four witnesses during the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

“We expect we will have votes on these witnesses on Tuesday,” Schumer said Thursday.

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

Senators make their last pitch to Iowa before impeachment trial
Impeachment trial will mean weeks in Washington ahead of caucuses

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, right, during the Democratic presidential debate Tuesday with former Vice President Joe Biden in Iowa, a state they may not have much time to visit ahead of the Feb. 3 caucuses once President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins. (Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

For the senators running for president, Tuesday’s debate carried extra importance.

It wasn’t just the last debate ahead of the state’s caucuses — just three weeks away — it was also potentially their last big hoorah in the Hawkeye State before they’re stuck in Washington for the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump that’s set to begin next week.

USMCA bill tough vote for Democrats over lack of environmental protections
Even those who oppose the pact agree it’s a significant improvement over predecessor

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., attends a press conference to discuss climate change on Sept. 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal.

The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough to protect the environment and address the urgency of climate change. He lamented what he called problematic provisions, including “special protections” for fossil fuel companies. But, he approved of its labor protections and voted in favor of advancing the deal. 

‘Documents don’t lie’ — the other fight over evidence at Trump impeachment trial
With trial to begin next week, it's unclear Democrats have the votes to issue subpoenas

A lone protester holds a sign outside the Capitol on Friday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The high-profile fight over potentially dramatic witness testimony at an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump has overshadowed the Senate’s possible demand for a different type of revealing cache of new evidence — withheld documents.

Senate Democrats have pushed to include in the trial documents that the Trump administration refused to turn over during the House investigation. But they need at least four Republicans to vote with all Democrats and independents for the Senate to subpoena witnesses or documents, and it's not clear they have those votes.

Russia, China plan to adjust their tactics to hack, influence 2020 elections
Iran, North Korea, non-state “hacktivists” also pose threats

A woman with her daughter casts her vote at Cheyenne High School in North Las Vegas on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Russia, China and other adversaries who see U.S. elections as a key target for cyberattacks and influence operations are evaluating defensive measures used against their previous attempts to adjust future tactics, a top intelligence official said Tuesday.

“I don’t underestimate any of the adversaries that are looking at the U.S. elections,” Shelby Pierson, election threats executive in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told CQ Roll Call in a brief interview after an election security event in Washington. “It’s undoubtedly part of their plan to learn what works and what doesn’t.”

Crypto enthusiasts say new products lend bitcoin credibility
Futures considered crucial to gain buy-in from financial industry

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. Those bitcoin futures trade through regulated exchanges and clearinghouses. (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images photo illustration)

The cryptocurrency industry is hailing the emergence of complex bitcoin investment products as a needed step to attract new investors while lending credibility to the digital asset and building a pathway to regulatory clarity.

The big development at the end of 2019 was the first trading of what’s known as physically settled bitcoin futures, following approval from state and federal regulators. And while the launch of these investment products hasn’t convinced everyone that they will lead to buy-in from a skeptical financial industry, those leading the charge say it’s a crucial step.

Hoyer: House priorities for 2020 include health care, infrastructure, climate, redistricting
Legislative action also planned on appropriations, defense, education, housing, modernizing Congress

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer is outlining a busy legislative agenda for 2020. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats in 2020 plan to pass legislation on top party priorities like health care, infrastructure and climate as well as more under-the-radar subjects like modernizing Congress and redistricting — all while trying to fully fund the government on time for the first time in 24 years, Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said.

The No. 2 Democrat, who is in charge of the floor schedule, outlined his legislative priorities for the year in an interview with CQ Roll Call. The aforementioned issues were among a long list that Hoyer said Democrats plan to pursue in the second session of the 116th Congress. Others the Maryland Democrat mentioned include education, taxes, the annual defense and intelligence authorizations, and reauthorizations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and National Flood Insurance Program.

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.

‘Fire Drill Friday’ finale: Jane Fonda goes back to Cali
The 82-year-old concludes her Washington residency with one last climate rally

Martin Sheen is seen outside the Capitol while being arrested during a weekly rally with Jane Fonda to call for action on climate change on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Corrected 7:11 p.m. | The season finale of Jane Fonda’s weekly Fire Drill Fridays saw some passionate speeches, a mass arrest and her most star-studded lineup yet.

The Hollywood veteran turned out hundreds for her final rally, including celebrity pals such as former “West Wing” actor Martin Sheen, Joaquin Phoenix and Susan Sarandon.

John Boehner among GOP allies urging leniency for Chris Collins
Sentencing hearing for former New York congressman is Jan. 17

Former Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., will be sentenced on Jan. 17. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Speaker John A. Boehner is among a robust contingent of Republicans who want a judge to give convicted former Rep. Chris Collins a break on prison time.

The requests for leniency say the New York Republican is a dedicated public servant, father and friend. But the attempt from current and former GOP lawmakers runs contrary to calls from Collins’ former constituents in the 27th Congressional District of New York who say he deserves the maximum penalty for an egregious breach of the public’s trust.

President Jed Bartlet could be arrested in front of the Capitol
Martin Sheen to join Jane Fonda at weekly climate change protest Friday

Actor Martin Sheen plans to join Jane Fonda’s weekly climate protest on Capitol Hill on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former “West Wing” star Martin Sheen is planning to join actress and activist Jane Fonda at a climate change protest Friday on the southeast lawn of the Capitol.

The event is part of Fonda’s weekly “Fire Drill Friday” demonstrations in support of the Green New Deal climate legislation sponsored by progressive lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders. Fonda and friends are calling on Congress to create high-paying jobs in the renewable energy sector and end all new fossil fuel exploration and extraction.

At the Races: Quite a year already

By Stephanie Akin, Bridget Bowman and Simone Pathé 

Welcome to At the Races! Each week we’ll bring you news and analysis from the CQ Roll Call team that will keep you informed about the 2020 election. Know someone who’d like to get this newsletter? They can subscribe here.

Trump suggests Iran downed Ukrainian airliner, potentially by accident
U.S. officials haven't publicly stated what caused the crash yet

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House after a rally in Michigan on Dec. 19, 2019. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner earlier this week — possibly by mistake.

“Well, I have my suspicions,” he told reporters following an energy event in the White House. “It’s a tragic thing. … Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side. … It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood.