science

Facebook CEO grilled on anti-vaccine content
Rep. Bill Posey demands fairness for vaccine questioners

Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook, arrives to testify during the House Financial Services hearing today. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Republican congressman’s grilling of Mark Zuckerberg over Facebook’s approach to anti-vaccination content exposed the high-wire balancing act the platform now faces as it seeks to balance a public commitment to free expression with efforts to clamp down on disinformation.

At first glance, the line of questioning Wednesday by GOP Rep. Bill Posey of Florida appeared odd and out of step with a hearing dominated by a discussion of Libra, the digital cryptocurrency the company hopes to establish.

House spending panel skeptical of NASA moon landing plans
Appropriators question push by White House to move up 2028 timeline by four years

Rep. Jose E. Serrano, a New York Democrat, said he is "extremely concerned" by the plan to move up the moon landing timeline by four years. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday appeared wary of providing NASA with the additional money it wants to land the next Americans on the moon by 2024, after its administrator testified the agency likely won’t have a detailed cost estimate on speeding up its timetable until it submits its fiscal 2021 budget request in February.

The back-and-forth questioning by the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee was part of a monthslong debate between Congress and the Trump administration about whether it’s actually possible to push up the earlier 2028 timeline.

How ‘resilience’ became a politically safe word for ‘climate change’
Both parties increasingly agree on investing in infrastructure upgrades to better withstand extreme weather

Water floods Highway 12 in Nags Head, N.C., as Hurricane Dorian hits the area on Sept. 6. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Climate change remains a deeply divisive term in some corners of Capitol Hill, but lawmakers from both parties are embracing the concept of “resilience” — building infrastructure engineered to better withstand devastating wind and floods associated with a warming planet.

The idea of building infrastructure better equipped to deal with natural disasters is appealing to fiscal conservatives who are loathe to keep spending taxpayer dollars rebuilding federal infrastructure just to see it destroyed again.

NIH could do more to address foreign threats, reports say
Reports stem from congressional fears that NIH-backed researchers could share taxpayer-funded research with foreign governments

HHS auditors urge research institutions like the National Institutes of Health to follow requirements to disclose foreign funding and consider national security in the peer-review vetting system. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The National Institutes of Health should do more to ensure that investigators and grant reviewers aren’t susceptible to foreign influence, according to a trio of reports from the Health and Human Services inspector general released Friday.

The inspector general recommended that the NIH enhance its vetting processes for the independent researchers who review grant applications. The agency could also do more to ensure that research institutions comply with requirements to ensure that investigators disclose all of their funding sources.

Capitol Ink | CO2 Congress

Smithsonian has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance, committee told
Buildings with outstanding repair needs include the Castle and the National Air and Space Museum

Cathy L. Helm, inspector general of the Smithsonian Institute, testifies before the House Administration Committee on Oversight of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington on Wednesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

The Smithsonian Institution has almost $1 billion in outstanding maintenance needs across the more than 600 facilities it oversees, an issue that concerned lawmakers at Wednesday’s House Administration Committee hearing and one that the recently appointed head of the museum complex pledged to address.

Prominent Smithsonian buildings in need of deferred maintenance — maintenance and repairs that were not performed when they should have been — include the Smithsonian Institution Building, known as the Castle, the Arts and Industries Building and the National Air and Space Museum. The $937 million backlog for fiscal 2017 is an assessment of every building it oversees, according to to Cathy Helm, inspector general for the Smithsonian Institution.

Trump administration expected to roll back clean water rule
New rule would reduce the number of waterways the federal government can protect from pollution

Wetlands and waterways such as those in the Florida Everglades, shown here, and the wildlife they sustain could be affected by the EPA's rollback of clean water protections. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

The Trump administration is expected to complete on Thursday a new rule that rolls back parts of the 2015 clean water rule that expanded federal authority over the nation’s streams, rivers and wetlands.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler scheduled a “major water policy announcement” at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group that has lobbied hard for the repeal of the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule, or WOTUS.

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.

Trump drags ‘Sharpiegate’ into second day as latest self-inflicted wound festers
‘I’m really worried about him,’ Democratic presidential candidate Buttigieg says

President Donald Trump references a map held by Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan while talking to reporters after a briefing from officials about Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office on Wednesday. The map appeared to have been altered to suggest the storm was initially projected to hit Alabama, as Trump claimed, prompting federal officials to issue a correction. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday dragged another self-created scandal into another day as he defended a map he displayed a day earlier of Hurricane Dorian’s expected path that appeared to have been altered, prompting howls from Democrats and accusations that he was putting lives in danger.

White House aides were eager last week to portray a commander in chief as deeply involved in the federal government’s efforts to prepare for and respond to Dorian. The storm even did the Trump team a favor when it turned away from Florida, sparing the Sunshine State the kind of catastrophic direct hit that left at least 20 dead and catastrophic damage in the Bahamas.

About Trump’s North Carolina Hurricane Dorian emergency declaration...
Another presidential tweet stirs confusion as GOP POTUS seeks to boost Tillis

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., is in a competitive race for reelection next year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

No, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis did not send President Donald Trump a formal request he declare a federal emergency as Hurricane Dorian heads to the Tarheel State.

Several media outlets tightly interpreted a presidential tweet posted Monday night in which Trump said such a declaration soon would get his signature “at the request of Senator Thom Tillis.” The president signed the declaration later that night.