Energy & Environment

Pressure mounts on expiring Medicaid programs for U.S. territories, safety net hospitals
Advocates worry the two programs will need more funding by the end of the fiscal year

Participants hold signs during the Senate Democrats’ rally against Medicaid cuts in front of the U.S. Capitol on June 6, 2017. Advocated are worried about two Medicaid programs that need additional funding before the end of the fiscal year — U.S. territories’ programs and funding for safety net hospitals. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Advocates are worried about two Medicaid programs that need additional funding before the end of the fiscal year — U.S. territories’ programs and funding for safety net hospitals.

The end of September marks a number of government deadlines, but advocates and government officials worry that a lack of funding for these two Medicaid programs would be worrisome and could be overlooked.

How to dine like a boss on a tight budget in D.C.
Hill reception circuit offers a lifeline for cash-strapped interns

People grab food provided at the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Week Reception on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Receptions are the lifeblood of the broke Capitol Hill intern’s diet. Besides being a great place for meeting people (ABN: always be networking) they provide a bounty of free food and drinks, and usually the spreads are halfway decent. I once went a whole week without paying a dime for dinner. And honestly, with enough dedication, I could have stretched that to a month.

Besides not wearing your intern badge on your lapel, the earliest lesson you learn working on the Hill is that almost every industry has an association in D.C. to represent it. Whether it’s cement, hydrogen energy or guns, if somebody has an interest before Congress, you can bet it has a lobby organized to influence lawmakers.

Abortion-rights groups lay out 2020 races they plan to target
The moves come on the heels of recently passed state restrictions on abortion in six states that will all face court challenges

Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, speaks at an abortion-rights rally at Supreme Court in Washington to protest new state bans on abortion services on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. On Wednesday, abortion-rights groups outlined the races they plan to target in 2020. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Abortion-rights groups outlined the political races they plan to target Wednesday, a day after the groups organized 500 events across the country. Anti-abortion groups countered with plans to sharpen the Republican platform with stricter anti-abortion language, a day after some groups met at the White House.

The moves come on the heels of recently passed state restrictions on abortion in six states that will all face court challenges.

Federal money hasn’t reached disaster victims
Long after hurricanes, red tape leaves relief aid unspent

A man rides a bike in Loiza, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria in 2017. The island’s nearly $20 billion in aid from a Department of Housing and Urban Development program has been mired in a clunky bureaucratic process. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images file photo)

It’s been more than a year and a half since Hurricane Maria laid waste to Puerto Rico in September 2017, killing roughly 3,000 people and causing an estimated $90 billion in damages.

But federal money for any long-term rebuilding has yet to reach those in need in the U.S. territory, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma that same month.

Trump, Biden and the battle for Pennsylvania
‘Biden deserted you,‘ president roars in Montoursville rally, as former veep sets up shop in Philly

Former Vice President Joe Biden removes his jacket at the Eakins Oval in Philadelphia on Saturday as he formally kicks off his 2020 White House bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Three times President Donald Trump mentioned former Vice President and Pennsylvania native Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic front-runner, and three times his crowd of loyalists booed at a rally Monday night in Lycoming County. But it is swing voter-rich places, like the one here in Lehigh County, two hours to the southeast, that will help determine who is president in January 2021.

Biden clearly has attracted the president’s attention since he jumped into his party’s race to take on Trump in the general election.

‘Inconvenient Truth’ producer tackles climate change again — just without saying it
The romance of farm life clashes with environmental reality in Laurie David’s latest project, ‘The Biggest Little Farm’

Laurie David’s latest project has less Al Gore, more oinking pigs. (Elissa Federoff/NEON)

Rising at dawn to milk the cows. Watching pigs root around in dirt. Listening to cute baby goats bleating while they munch on grass. Grabbing a shotgun to dispose of the coyotes terrorizing your chicken coop. Yes, farming can be romantic, but the reality of creating your own complex, self-sustaining ecosystem is not.

That’s the closest thing to myth-busting you’ll get from “The Biggest Little Farm,” the latest project from producer Laurie David. Thirteen years ago, she gave us “An Inconvenient Truth,” with its flow charts and heavy-handed appeals to science. The nasal intonations of former Vice President Al Gore were the righteous cherry on top.

Interior Department policy let political appointees review FOIA requests
So-called awareness review process could expose department to legal action

A public records request for emails between a National Park Service official and Lolita Zinke, above, wife of former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was originally estimated to potentially yield 96 pages of communication. It ended up being 16 pages long after being put through the awareness review process.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The Interior Department has for about a year allowed political appointees to weigh in on which federal records are released to the public, creating delays that could violate open records law and expose the department to legal action.

“If political officials are becoming involved in the process and as a result of that causes the agency to not comply with its obligations” under the Freedom of Information Act, “that is a serious problem,” said Adam Marshall, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

Will the Supreme Court save the GOP from itself on abortion?
Republicans may come to rue making abortion a 2020 election issue

Abortion has emerged as a major issue heading into the 2020 election, which will likely benefit Democrats politically if people see abortions rights as under credible threat, Rothenberg writes. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Social conservatives cheering the rash of state laws limiting legal abortion might want to be careful what they wish for.

That’s because Democratic prospects for 2020 are likely to improve as uncertainty about the future of Roe v. Wade grows. And uncertainty will grow as more and more states impose restrictions on legal abortion.

In Pennsylvania’s Trump country, relief that he’s restoring ‘the old ways’
President rallies supporters amid trade war, home-state son Biden’s entrance

Supporters of President Donald Trump, pose for a picture while waiting to enter his rally at the Williamsport Regional Airport in Montoursville, Pa., on Monday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — The blue and red banners flapped in a late-spring morning breeze along U.S. Highway 15 here, greeting passersby with a simple but unmistakable message: “President Trump is coming.” It is a message Pennsylvanians are likely to see a lot of before the 2020 election, as the Keystone State becomes one of the campaign’s centers of gravity. 

Hours before Air Force One touched down at Williamsport International Airport in neighboring Montoursville, Terri Bruner of Geneva, Ohio, had set up her traveling roadside merchandise stand at the Ridgemont Motel. She was peddling the usual “Make America Great Again” gear, complete with one T-shirt depicting a Trump supporter urinating on the CNN logo and an assortment of pink Trump gear ostensibly aimed at women.

Eyeing hotter future, industry lays carbon tax groundwork
Business bigwigs head to the Hill this week to push climate legislation

Advocates for fighting global warming will get a boost from corporate firms advocating for a carbon tax. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Representatives from credit card firm Capital One, tech giant Microsoft, home-goods maker Johnson & Johnson and dozens of other companies are coming to Capitol Hill this week to do something unusual: Call for a new tax.

Officials from more than 75 companies will press Congress on Wednesday to pass climate legislation, including a “meaningful” national price on carbon emissions, according to Ceres, a sustainable investment group behind the effort.

Trump heads to Pennsylvania, where China trade war is hitting home
State leaders: Tariff tussle hurts local manufacturers, farmers and consumers

President Donald Trump, here speaking to reporters on April 27 at the White House, is headed to battleground Pennsylvania on Monday even as his China trade war is hurting farmers and manufacturers there. (Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump heads to Pennsylvania on Monday evening — another battleground state vital to his chances of winning a second term. But Air Force One will touch down in Montoursville for a campaign rally just when his trade war with China is squeezing many of his core supporters there.

Trump has complicated his own quest to reassemble the Electoral College map he cobbled together in 2016 by slapping tariffs on Chinese-made products, according to political strategists, some lawmakers and state officials. The Keystone State is a prime example as China’s retaliatory levies are hitting its manufacturers, farmers and consumers particularly hard.

Grassley, Wyden want to end uncertainty over temporary tax breaks
Five task forces charged with coming up with solutions for so-called tax extenders

Senate Finance Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, right, and ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are seen at a hearing in February. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley announced the creation of five task forces charged with delving into what to do about 42 myriad tax breaks that continually get turned on and off by Congress, ranging from an incentive to sell cleaner-burning biodiesel fuel for trucks to a deduction for mortgage insurance premiums.

The joint announcement by the Iowa Republican and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, the committee’s ranking member, comes 16 and a half months after 26 tax “extenders” expired at the end of 2017. Grassley said the task force is charged with coming up with solutions by the end of June, including whether to consolidate or change certain provisions, make them permanent or allow them to lapse.

House vote combining drug, health law bills irks Republicans
Combining the two bills sets up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues

Reps. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., center, Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, right, and Mark Meadows, R-N.C., are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building. The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen “Obamacare” health insurance exchanges. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House is set to vote Thursday on legislation meant to lower prescription drug prices and strengthen the individual health insurance exchanges, setting up a political minefield for Republicans who are torn between the two issues.

Democratic leaders’ decision to combine legislation that would make it easier to bring generic drugs to market with bills that would bolster the 2010 health care law does not damage the prospects of passage for the package of bills. But that does make it certain that most Republicans will vote against the bipartisan drug pricing legislation.

Trump is Twitter-bashing 2020 hopeful and NY Mayor de Blasio. That puts him in a rare group
President has saved social media attacks for a handful of Democratic candidates

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up a copy of “One NYC 2050” as he speaks about the city’s response to climate change at Hunters Point South Park on April 22. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump used insults to welcome New York Mayor Bill de Blasio into the 2020 presidential race, a strategy he has reserved for only a few Democratic candidates.

Trump wasted little time in slamming candidates like now-front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, former Texas Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the 2016 Democratic runner-up. He has said very little about South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Sen. Kamala Harris, even though she drew a large crowd at her Oakland campaign kickoff event — noteworthy because the president often remarks on his rally crowds and those drawn by his rivals, which he typically claims are much smaller.

De Blasio makes it 23
New York mayor says ‘it’s time to put working people first’ in campaign launch

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio holds up a copy of “One NYC 2050” as he speaks about the city’s response to climate change in April. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday announced he is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, making him the 23rd major candidate in the race to take on Donald Trump.

In a campaign video, de Blasio says he has taken Trump on before and he’s ready to do it again.