Jim Costa

Democrats’ Bernhardt probe has California’s Cox in a tough spot
His committee thinks Interior secretary may have improperly intervened in decision to send water to Democrat’s farming constituents

Rep. TJ Cox represents farmers in California’s Central Valley. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A draft report by the National Marine Fisheries Service concluded in July that giving farmers in California’s Central Valley more water would harm salmon, steelhead trout and killer whales.

But after the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service intervened, the final report, released on Oct. 22, reached a new conclusion: The government could maximize water deliveries and protect the fish at the same time.

Rep. Harder wants to fight the swamp rats (outside D.C.)
Democrat hopes bill will eradicate invasive species in California

Rep. Josh Harder toted a taxidermied “swamp rat” named Nellie to a subcommittee hearing Tuesday. (Courtesy of Harder's Office)

As bunnies hopped around the Rayburn building on Tuesday, Longworth hosted a critter that wasn’t so cute — or cuddly.

Rep. Josh Harder toted a taxidermied “swamp rat” named Nellie to his hearing in front of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife.

Health care riders, farm payouts slow stopgap deal
Bill pulled from House Rules agenda late Tuesday afternoon

Montana Sen. Jon Tester is among those objecting to potential provisions in a stopgap spending bill needed to keep the government open after Sept. 30. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Trade assistance for farmers hit by retaliatory tariffs and the details of several health care program extensions were standing in the way of agreement on a stopgap funding measure Tuesday, sources said.

According to a senior Democratic aide, the bill was likely to include an increase in the Commodity Credit Corporation’s $30 billion borrowing cap that the Trump administration asked for earlier this month. But provisions on “accountability and transparency” were still under discussion, the aide said.

GOP group defends ad showing burning image of AOC during Democratic debate
Elizabeth Heng said ad “is about fighting the socialist agenda”

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized as racist the ad by a new GOP group that ran during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The founder of a new Republican group is defending an ad that aired during Thursday’s Democratic presidential debate that featured a burning image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The New York Democrat criticized the spot as racist. 

New Faces GOP was founded by Elizabeth Heng, who lost a House race in California last cycle. Heng, who is the PAC’s executive director, was featured in the 30-second TV ad, which ran both during and after the debate on ABC. 

Photos of the week: A budget, Marie Antoinette and St. Patrick’s Day
The week of March 11 as captured by Roll Call's photographers

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., holds a copy of the president's budget proposal during a news conference after the Senate policy luncheons on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration’s budget for fiscal year 2020 was released at the beginning of this week with little fanfare. And President Donald Trump attended the annual St. Patrick's Day reception on the Hill on Thursday. Lawmakers then headed out of town for their March recess next week.

Here's the entire week in Washington in photos:

Compromise or resist? Democrats still have a choice to make
The problem is that their voters are genuinely divided on whether to play nice with Trump

Massachusetts Sen. Edward J. Markey and New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hold a press conference on the Green New Deal in February. The plan has little chance of going anywhere, which underscores the choice that Democrats face: Will they follow Republicans in splitting between a pragmatic wing and a strident one, or will they remain united in showing voters they are better suited to lead? (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the House side of the Capitol and on the presidential campaign trail, progressives are talking about “Medicare-for-all” and a Green New Deal. They want not only to save Social Security but to expand it, to guarantee a job to everyone and to abolish the Homeland Security Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.

This, they admit, is all about drawing contrasts with Republicans to set the terms of the 2020 campaign. The proposals won’t go anywhere with the GOP in control of the Senate and Donald Trump in the White House.

Grijalva’s moment arrives as he takes Natural Resources gavel
New chairman brings progressive focus to often contentious committee

The new House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., has served on the panel since he first came to Congress in 2003. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As climate change and immigration lead priorities for the new House Democratic majority, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva may just be the man for the moment.

The question however is: Did Grijalva find this moment or did the moment finally find him?

The Largest Congressional District, Montana’s, Also Had the Highest Turnout
In contrast, California’s 21st District saw fewest number of voters show up

Rep. Greg Gianforte, R-Mont., won a first full-term representing Montana’s at-large district, defeating Democratic opponent Kathleen Williams by 5 points. Above, the two talk at the Crow Fair in Crow Agency, Mont., on Aug. 18. Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., appears at left. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The turnout for the midterm elections was the highest — 49 percent of those eligible to cast ballots did — since 1914, according to the United States Election Project.

But the enthusiasm was not evenly spread. The number of votes cast in some House districts was much higher than others and it did not depend on the competitiveness of the races.

Problem Solvers to Back Pelosi for Speaker After Reaching Agreement on Rules Changes
Move further whittles down California Democrat’s opposition

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and other Democrats from that group who have been leveraging their speaker votes for changes to House rules, reached an agreement with Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 9:39 p.m. | Democrats in the Problem Solvers Caucus extracted concessions from Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday regarding changes to House rules in exchange for support from eight holdouts for her speaker bid. 

The agreement came early in the afternoon right as the Democratic Caucus reconvened their leadership elections and began the process for nominating Pelosi for speaker. She’s expected to win that simple-majority vote but has a tougher hurdle to climb heading into a Jan. 3 vote on the floor where she’ll need a majority of the House. 

Pelosi and Her Opponents Downplay Importance of Caucus Vote in Speaker Battle
Secret ballot may not provide a clear picture on how much support Pelosi will have on the floor

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is confident the closed-door Democratic Caucus leadership elections Wednesday will prove she has strong support for her speaker bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and the small contingent of members who oppose her are both heading into Wednesday’s leadership elections knowing she’ll emerge as the caucus’s nominee for speaker.

But the two sides still have different expectations for what will happen in a Jan. 3 floor vote five weeks from now, as Pelosi remains confident she’ll have the support of the majority of the House to secure the gavel and her opponents are still predicting she won’t.