infrastructure

Census falling further behind in hiring outreach staff
Partnership specialists are critical to reach hard-to-count populations

Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham said in July that the “the bricks and mortar [strategy] wasn’t working” to protect the agency’s shrinking number of area Census offices and closure of its Questionnaire Assistance Centers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Census officials continue to fall behind their goals for hiring local outreach staff, a critical component in promoting the 2020 census among the hardest-to-count populations in the country, agency officials told an advisory committee.

While several aspects of the preparations, including address verification, are on or ahead of schedule, the U.S. Census Bureau said it remains more than 200 people short of its goal of hiring 1,500 local partnership staff ahead of next year’s count. The hiring problems have come as the agency ramps up for the 2020 enumeration that will be used to determine the number of congressional seats for each state, how federal funds are allocated, and to structure economic surveys.

Cannon renewal could be $100 million over budget; hazardous materials found
Project has not yet fully completed Phase 1 yet

The Cannon House Office Building renovation has encountered several hurdles. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The project to renovate the Cannon House Office Building could climb more than $100 million over budget, a process that has, in part, been delayed by the discovery of hazardous materials and a fluid list of changes requested by the Architect of the Capitol that deviates from the original plan.

Terrell Dorn, managing director for infrastructure operations at the Government Accountability Office, notes in testimony submitted for Tuesday’s House Administration Committee oversight hearing on the Cannon project that the Architect of the Capitol expects the total building renovation cost to increase substantially from the initial estimate.

With Congress back, Trump tells staff he doesn’t want another shutdown
Hill envoy details to-do list, which could face obstacles, including from White House

President Donald Trump has told his staff to avoid a government shutdown, but several obstacles remain to getting spending deals, as well as other legislative priorities. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House has an ambitious autumn and winter legislative agenda that includes avoiding another government shutdown and winning approval of a sweeping trade pact — but a key official says legislation aimed at preventing mass shootings is not certain to move this year.

Both chambers returned Monday from a rather bloody August recess in which more than 40 people died during mass shootings in four states. Members of both parties say they want to move some kind of bill aimed at curbing gun violence amid polling that shows large majorities of Republican and Democratic voters want Washington to act. But no plan that could pass the House and Senate — and get President Donald Trump’s signature — has emerged.

Retiring lawmakers will face tough market on K Street
‘K Street is not hungering for former members,’ senator-turned-lobbyist Norm Coleman says

In most cases, it’s congressional staff members who K Street really clamors for. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street recruiters are poring over the list of 21, and counting, lawmakers planning to exit Congress, but the lobbying sector may offer a shrinking supply of big-money gigs heading into the 2020 elections. 

As more House members and senators consider making their escape from Capitol Hill, the realities of the K Street economy and the well-worn revolving door will be among their considerations, say insiders at lobbying firms and downtown headhunters.

White House pushes ban on Chinese-made buses, rail cars
Advocate for ban says state-backed Chinese companies can underbid domestic competition and drive them out of business

A MARC commuter train leaves a station in Brunswick, Md. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House wants China to stay out of the U.S. mass transit business, whether it’s bus transit or passenger rail.

In a statement of policy before the House and Senate get together in a conference committee to work out their differences in a wide-ranging Pentagon policy bill, the White House said it supports a Senate provision that would bar federal transit funds from being used to buy transit vehicles manufactured by state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, including those from China.

Child care centers, cybersecurity facility among Pentagon projects delayed for wall
Funds diverted from military construction to border barriers under Trump's emergency declaration

A section of border barrier stretches through the Rio Grande Valley sector of the Texas-Mexico border. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

Pentagon officials briefed lawmakers Wednesday on which military construction projects previously approved by Congress would be delayed so the Trump administration can instead use the money to pay for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The list includes child care centers, roads, at least one cybersecurity facility and more, members of Congress said in statements. A copy of the list provided to CQ Roll Call by a congressional office also includes facilities at military bases hit by hurricanes, such as Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida, as well as school construction.

NIH needs $1.3 billion for building repairs, report says
While more funding goes to research, aging facilities found in ‘deteriorating condition’

The James Shannon Building in Bethesda, Md., was completed in 1938. A congressionally mandated report noted that more than 72 percent of NIH facilities are more than 20 years old. (Lydia Polimeni/NIH file photo)

The National Institutes of Health needs a “substantial infusion of funding” to address the “deteriorating condition” of many of its facilities, according to a congressionally mandated report.

The report, released Monday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, recommends that Congress provide $1.3 billion in new funding over several years in order to address buildings and facilities at the NIH’s campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Trump reprises his pitch as the only savior for a Rust Belt battleground
Environmental groups call Pennsylvania facility he visited part of a ‘cancer alley’

President Donald Trump speaks during a rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pennsylvania on May 20. He was back in the state, his 11th visit in two years, on Tuesday. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump interrupted his summer vacation Tuesday to again court Rust Belt voters that helped deliver him the White House, espousing false statements and bold promises as he seeks a second term.

“The political class in Washington gutted … your factories,” Trump told workers at a new Shell-owned petrochemical plant in Beaver County, along the border with Ohio, another perennial swing state he also won in 2016. Trump also blamed other countries for American industrial decline, drawing cheers when he told the audience “they have been screwing us for years.”

El Paso skeptical of Trump’s visit as he lashes out at opponents, media
The president lashed out at Beto O’Rourke and the media before his visits to El Paso and Dayton, Ohio

President Trump is criticizing Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke just hours before heading to his native El Paso to visit victims of a mass shooting there. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 8:51 a.m. | President Trump is opting to attack his political opponents and the media in the hours before he is slated to meet with victims of the deadly mass shootings in Ohio and Texas and the law enforcement officers who stopped both rampages.

Previous commanders in chief almost always chose to focus on the victims of tragedies and attacks, while also discussing federal aid and possible policy changes. But not Trump, firing off angry tweets hours before Air Force One is slated to touch down in Dayton and then El Paso, where two gunmen killed at least 31 people over the weekend.

Senate biofuel advocates want a piece of transportation bill
The bill would set aside $1 billion to build charging and fueling stations for electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles

Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states while leaving out rural America. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A provision in the Senate’s surface transportation bill that would help pay for charging and refilling stations for zero- or low-emissions vehicles should also support more stations for biofuels like ethanol, say two Midwestern senators.

The bill would authorize spending on highways and bridge projects for five years. Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Rounds of South Dakota say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states who can afford electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles, while leaving out rural America.