Agriculture

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. 

Farm Aid Payments to City Dwellers Prompt Call for Limits on Program
Study found more than 1,000 recipients had city addresses

The current reauthorization of the farm bill might become a vehicle to tighten eligibility to certain forms of farm aid. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Nearly 1,150 recipients who qualified for aid under a $12 billion Trump administration program to offset foreign tariffs on U.S. farm products maintain city addresses, an interest group found in an initial survey, prompting calls for overhauling the program.

The Environmental Working Group argued Monday that the data should prompt lawmakers working on a pending reauthorization of federal farm and nutrition programs to impose tougher standards to reduce the number of “city slickers” eligible for farm subsidies.

4 House Races Remain Uncalled, Previously Projected Race in California Narrows
GOP Rep. Valadao was winning by 4,000 votes on Election Day; now he’s up by less than 1,000

Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., was declared the winner of his race against TJ Cox on Election Day. But his lead has dwindled to less than 1,000 votes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two weeks have gone by since the midterm elections, but officials have yet to determine the winner in four House races. And the results of a California House race that was called on election night has now been thrown into question.

House Democrats have long since passed the threshold for a majority that they haven’t held since 2010. They currently have 232 seats called in their favor with the potential to win some of those five not-yet-called races. They’re likely to finish around 234 with a 33-seat majority.

A Mississippi Senate Flip? Probably Not
Absent reliable data, Democratic chances there should be taken with skepticism

Appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., is in the Mississippi Senate runoff with former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, a Democrat. Is the race close? That depends on your definition of close, Rothenberg writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Alabama Democrat Doug Jones demonstrated last year that candidates matter and that on the rarest occasions — such as when the majority party’s nominee is accused of sexual misconduct by many women — voters in federal races veer from their partisan loyalties. But Jones’s win was the exception, not the rule, and it shouldn’t obscure the difficulty Mississippi Democratic Senate hopeful Mike Espy faces in a runoff in one of the most Republican and conservative states in the entire country.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the Mississippi Senate runoff “has turned into an unexpectedly competitive contest.” That’s hard to challenge, since expectations are a matter of opinion, as is competitiveness. But until I see hard evidence that Democrats have a realistic shot at the seat, count me as skeptical that the Mississippi seat is in play.

Top Trump PAC to Flood Mississippi Airwaves Ahead of Senate Runoff
Cindy Hyde-Smith faces Mike Espy in last undecided Senate race of the cycle

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., is in a Nov. 27 special election runoff with Democrat Mike Espy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A top super PAC aligned with President Donald Trump is infusing the Mississippi Senate special election runoff with nearly $300,000 to help Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

Hyde-Smith will face former Democratic Rep. Mike Espy, who also served as Agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration, in the Nov. 27 runoff. Neither cleared 50 percent in the Nov. 6 jungle primary, which saw two Republicans and two Democrats run together on the same ballot.

4 House Races Still Uncalled Nearly 2 Weeks After Midterms
After Nelson concedes in Florida Senate race, a handful of House races up in the air

Rep. Will Hurd, R-Texas, has a lead of 900 votes over his Democratic challenger in Texas’ 23rd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Officials have yet to determine the winner in four House races nearly two weeks after the midterm elections.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson conceded to his GOP challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, on Sunday, drawing the final uncalled Senate race to a close.

6 House Races, 1 Senate Race Still Uncalled as Mia Love Pulls Closer
Utah Republican trailed by 3 percent on election night, but is now only 873 votes down to Democratic challenger

Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, walks down the House steps after final votes of the week in the Capitol on March 8, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Officials have yet to determine the winners in one Senate contest and six House races — a week and a half after the midterm elections.

As the Florida Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson and his GOP challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, heads to a manual recount, a federal judge called the state’s election processes “the laughing stock of the world.”

Border Brawl on Display at Senators-White House Meeting Today
McConnell, Shelby trek to meet with Trump about wall funding

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., front left, will be heading to the White House to discuss year-end spending deals on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Key Republican senators head to the White House Thursday afternoon to meet with President Donald Trump, hoping to resolve a border brawl that could hold up a year-end spending package and lead to a partial government shutdown.

The White House session could make clear whether Trump is prepared to give any ground in his request for a $5 billion down payment on a southern border wall — or whether he’s prepared to trigger a shutdown if he doesn’t get his way. Senate appropriators have offered only $1.6 billion in their bipartisan version of a Homeland Security spending bill.

7 House Races, 1 Senate Race Still Uncalled as Florida Recount Deadline Nears
Some counties in Florida expected to miss Thursday’s machine recount deadline

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) addresses his election night party in Naples, Fla., where he declared victory in the Florida Senate race with incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., on November 6, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:54 p.m. | Officials have yet to determine the winners in one Senate contest and seven House races — a week and two days after the midterm elections.

If the 2000 presidential race is an indication, the outcome of the Florida Senate race could be weeks away as state election personnel recount votes for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and his GOP challenger, Gov. Rick Scott. Nelson trailed Scott in the initial tally by less than 15,000 votes.

8 House Races, 1 Senate Race Remain Uncalled as California Democrats Surge
Democrats appear poised to pick up two more seats in California after winning pair over the weekend

The Associated Press called the race in California’s 10th District for GOP Rep. Jeff Denham’s challenger Josh Harder Tuesday night, bringing the number of unresolved House races to nine. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Officials have yet to determine the winners in one Senate contest and eight House races — a week and a day after the midterm elections.

If the 2000 presidential race is an indication, the outcome of the Florida Senate race could be weeks away as state election personnel recount votes for Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. Nelson trailed in the initial tally by less than 15,000 votes to his challenger, GOP Gov. Rick Scott.