Ken Calvert

At least half of Rep. Chris Collins’ full-time staff has left since he was indicted
New York Republican will fight the case in court, but some employees not waiting around

More than a handful of staffers for Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., have left his office since he was indicted in August of 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The trial of Rep. Chris Collins is in February, but some of his staffers aren’t waiting on the legal system to run its course.

Half of Collins’ full-time staff have left since he was indicted in August 2018 on fraud charges. Seven of 14 full-time staffers — among them his deputy chief of staff, Michael Kracker, communications director Sarah Minkel, and health policy adviser, Charlotte Pineda — are no longer working in the office, according to payroll records from May 2019, the most recent filing available in the Legislative Resource Center.

Trump’s military transgender ban blocked in House spending bill
The House move lines up what will surely be a battle with the Senate during conference negotiations later this year.

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. The House decision to block a Trump ban of transgender people from serving in the military in the 4-bill spending package lines up what will surely be a battle with the Senate during conference negotiations later this year. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House on Tuesday used a massive spending bill to block the Pentagon from enforcing President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people from serving openly in the military.

By a vote of 243-183, the House adopted an amendment to the four-bill spending package that includes the defense appropriations measure, lining up what will surely be a battle with the Senate during conference negotiations later this year.

Trump admin. pans Democrats’ plan to protect areas in Alaska and offshore
An Office of Management and Budget letter, dated last week, called it an attempt to ‘block’ activities promoting ‘America’s energy security’

This undated photo shows the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. The Trump Administration panned a move by House Democrats to try and block new lease sales in ANWR and in offshore waters. (Photo by Steven Chase/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Getty Images)

The White House budget office criticized House Democrats over provisions in their spending bills that would block the Interior Department from pursuing lease sales in offshore waters and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an ecologically sensitive region in Alaska.

The House Appropriations Committee last week approved the $46.4 billion Energy-Water and $39.5 billion Interior-Environment fiscal 2020 spending bills.

Lawmakers spar big-time on behalf of rocket companies
Billions of dollars in business, and the future of national security, are at stake in fight over developing a new generation of rockets

The SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket lifts off from launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center on February 6, 2018 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket is the most powerful rocket in the world and is carrying a Tesla Roadster into orbit. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

More than two-dozen House members have thrown the latest punch in a bare-knuckled fight that pits competing U.S. rocket manufacturers and their allies on Capitol Hill against one another.

A bipartisan group of 28 House members urged Air Force Secretary Heather A. Wilson in an April 12 letter not to alter the service’s blueprint for developing a new generation of rockets to lift U.S. military and spy satellites into orbit. But plenty of other lawmakers have pushed for several changes.

‘If you can climb that, you deserve whatever you can get’ Trump says on wall visit
President heads to California one day after backing off — sort of — closure threat

President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference to announce his national emergency delclaration for the situation at the southern border on Feb. 15 in the White House's Rose Garden. He traveled to the border on Friday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images file photo)

ANALYSIS — One day, President Donald Trump seemed dead set on closing ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border. The next, he had shelved that threat — maybe — for another aimed at pressuring Mexican officials to curb migrant flows into the United States.

That followed a retreat by the president on trying to pressure congressional Republicans into another attempt to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s entire 2010 health law. Fittingly, the latest roller coaster-like week of the Trump era ended with a presidential trip to the southern border.

These Planes Will Fight Fires, If You Can Wait 10 Years
Stalled Air Force conversions show how a seemingly straightforward job can take years in the arcane federal acquisition system

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., spearheaded the recent legislative mandates to convert the transport planes into fire tankers. It’s taking too long, she says. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

In 2013, Congress ordered the Air Force to convert seven Coast Guard transport planes into firefighting tanker aircraft, but now the first of the planes may not be ready to fight fires for several more years, nearly a decade after the initial plan was launched. 

The story of the seven planes illustrates how a seemingly straightforward job can take years in the arcane federal acquisition system, even when the equipment is a matter of life and death. 

Photos of the Week: House Recess Begins — But See You Monday, Senate
The week of July 23 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., speaks at the Summer Intern Lecture Series in the Capitol Visitor Center auditorium on Wednesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

The House has dashed out of town for its annual five-week summer recess, with plenty of work left on the table for when members return Sept. 4.

Of course, the Senate plans to be in session for four out of the five coming weeks thanks to a plan from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to chip away at backlogged legislative and executive business (with the side benefit of preventing Senate Democrats in tough races from going home to campaign.)

Bipartisan Group Wants Labs to Disclose Where Research Animals End Up
Federal agencies asked for info on adoptions and retirements for dogs, cats and primates that survive experiments

Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending a letter to federal agencies about testing on dogs, cats and primates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update 10:12 a.m. | A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged federal agencies and research labs to release information on what it does with cats, dogs and primates that survive experiments.

The letter first obtained by Roll Call was sent to the Department of Interior, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Smithsonian Institution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense.

Do-Nothing Amendments Give Lawmakers Bragging Opportunity About Successes
Provisions have no real-world impact

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., is among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this midterm cycle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House adopted amendments on a two-bill spending package last week purporting to redirect sums ranging from $100,000 to study the impact of a mineral found to cause cracking in concrete home foundations, to $36 million for “public safety and justice facility construction” at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

There’s just one catch: the provisions simply give the illusion of moving money around — with no real-world impact on agency funding priorities. The net financial impact of all 14 such amendments considered during debate on the $58.7 billion Interior-Environment and Financial Services measure — out of 87 total floor amendments on the bill — was precisely zero.

Meet the Dogs of the House, Round III
Canine friends from the offices of Walters, Knight, Gomez, Calvert, Murphy and Tenney

Pablo’s fame around Capitol Hill hasn’t gone to his head. (Courtesy Rep. Mimi Walters’ office)

Capitol Hill offices have found that there’s nothing like a dog to break the ice.

Constituents can’t get enough of Colt the corgi, Cali the dachshund and other House canines.