science

Zinke Circles Back to Familiar Scapegoat for California Fires
Cost of combating blazes will be ‘well into the billions,’ Interior secretary says

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, right, seen here in Paradise, Calif., earlier this month with California Gov. Jerry Brown and FEMA Administrator Brock Long, center, is blaming the Golden State’s devastating forest fires on environmental groups. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As the dead and damage continue to be tabulated from California’s Camp Fire, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Tuesday continued the administration drumbeat that environmental groups are to blame for the devastation, saying they have prevented officials from forestry practices that reduce the risk of deadly blazes.

Forest experts, scientists and resource managers say a combination of factors, including drought exacerbated by climate change and urban and rural development patterns, have helped lead to the current situation. But Zinke on several occasions during fire season has put the blame squarely on environmental groups that are frequently at odds with Republican politicians. 

League of Conservation Voters’ Political Arm Shows Some Midterm Muscle
Super PAC expands into 14 more House races, will spend record $80 million this cycle

Environmental activists protest in front of the White House after President Donald Trump announced he is withdrawing the United States from the Paris climate accord in June. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The campaign arm of the League of Conservation Voters says it will spend $80 million before Election Day — a record for the super PAC.

Rollbacks to environmental protections by President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress have created a sense of urgency heading into Election Day, LCV Victory Fund said in a news release.

Rohrabacher Says Trump Will Liberalize Marijuana Policy After Midterms
Administration to leave recreational use up to states, legalize medical marijuana at federal level

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said he has received assurances from the White House that “the president intends on keeping his campaign promise” to legalize medical marijuana at the national level. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump’s administration will work to relax federal marijuana laws and regulations after the midterms, according to one of his staunchest Republican defenders in the House.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California told Fox Business on Thursday he has worked to secure a “solid commitment” from administration officials to legalize medical marijuana across the federal level and leave recreational use of the drug up to the states.

Despite New Tariffs, China Still Not Budging on Trade Tactics, White House Says
Senior official indicates Canada no closer to joining Mexico trade deal than it was when talks started

U.S. and Chinese flags on a table where military leaders from the two countries met in 2014. Four year later, the economic giants are in the midst of a bitter trade dispute. Depsite President Trump’s tariff's little progress has been made, an official said Friday. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle)

The Trump administration is not aiming to “cleve off” the U.S. economy from China’s, but it intends to continue pressuring the Asian giant even though tough moves like repeated rounds of tariffs have yet to bring the fundamental changes President Donald Trump is demanding.

“Our goal is not to totally divorce our economies from each other,” said a senior official who briefed reporters Friday at the White House about trade matters. “Our goal is for China to stop behaving unfairly.”

Trump Again Defends Puerto Rico Response as Hurricane Florence Nears
President blames ‘totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan’ for problems after Maria

Hurricane Florence rainfall predictions as the storm heads for the Carolinas and Virginia, according to the National Hurricane Center. (NOAA)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday warned Hurricane Florence could prove “bigger than anticipated” as it barrels toward the Carolinas and sharply blamed a Puerto Rican mayor for the widely panned federal response to a storm there last year.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long on Tuesday warned Florence has “an opportunity of being a very devastating storm,” adding “the power is going to be off for weeks.” He predicts the storm will be a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane when it makes landfall this weekend. And Trump told reporters after being briefed by Long and Homeland Security officials that Florence will be “tremendously big and tremendously wet” with “tremendous amounts of water.”

Here Are All the Republicans Jockeying for Committee Leadership Positions (So Far)
Roughly half of the House committees will have new GOP leadership next year

Dozens of House Republicans are running for committee chairmanships that will be open in the next Congress, hoping to obtain gavels like the one pictured. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo.)

Roughly half of the House’s 21 committees will have new Republican leadership next year, creating several competitive races among colleagues looking to move up the ranks.

The majority of the openings come from retiring GOP chairmen, most of whom have reached the six-year limit Republicans place on their committee leaders.

3 Takeaways From the Pence ‘Space Force’ Sales Pitch
Vice president ignores white elephant: a skeptical military and Congress

Space Force was on the mind of Vice President Mike Pence, seen here in the Rotunda last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

There’s a new applause line in President Donald Trump’s campaign spiel.

It’s not quite up there with “Crooked Hillary” or demanding professional football players who kneel for the National Anthem to “get the hell out of here.” Crowds react with loud cheers when the president touts his envisioned “Space Force.”

As Trump Looks to Outer Space, Senate Dems Put In a Word for Earth
They were there to hear about NASA’s ‘search for life,’ but Democrats wanted to talk about climate change

Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and ranking member Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., revealed differing visions for NASA’s science mission at a Wednesday hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump may be known for flip-flopping on issues, but he hasn’t backed away from his lofty goals in outer space. His push for a military “space force” and boots on the Red Planet has some in Congress trying to bring him back to Earth.

As senators heard Wednesday about NASA’s “search for life” in the galaxy, some Democrats wanted to talk about climate change.

Trump Tells Sessions to End Mueller’s Russia Investigation
Members of both parties have said that would be a bad idea

Then-FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in February 2011. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump on Wednesday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down the Justice Department’s special counsel investigation of Russia election meddling and possible presidential obstruction of justice.

Members of both political parties have cautioned Trump to avoid such public statements, and to resist the urge to simply give Sessions an order to end former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller’s probe — or fire him and any other senior Justice Department official who refuses to and replace them with someone who will shutter the investigation.

Durbin Back on the Warpath Against E-Cigarette ‘Candy-Flavored Poisons’
Introducing new legislation to make e-cig manufacturers show benefits

Sen. Richard J. Durbin has new legislation designed to curtail flavored e-cigs. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin has launched a new offensive against a familiar foe: electronic cigarettes.

For years, the Illinois Democrat has been alarmed by the use of e-cigs by young adults — and flavorings that seem designed to appeal to kids, like gummy bear.