Energy & Environment

You’d Think Samuel Beckett Was In Charge of Our Health Care
Finding a path forward for the Affordable Care Act has been like waiting for Godot

Estragon and Vladimir — above as portrayed in a 1978 French production of Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” — were stuck in limbo. After waiting on Congress to act on health care, we all know how they feel, Hoagland writes. (Fernand Michaud/Gallica Digital Library)

OPINION — Finding bipartisan agreement in Congress on a path forward for the Affordable Care Act has been like waiting for Godot. Polls tracking Americans’ views have consistently shown an evenly divided public. No single public policy issue captures the country’s polarization better than the debate that has surrounded this law.

That doesn’t mean we have to settle for “nothing to be done.” Improving health insurance markets is a goal worth pursuing, and Republicans and Democrats at the state level are already showing us the way.

One Way to Fix the Child Care Crisis? Look to the Tax Law
“Opportunity Zones” incentive can help close the early childhood gap

A Chicago teacher works with kids as part of an early childhood education program. The “Opportunity Zones” incentive could help expand such programs across the country, Smith and Shaw write. (Tim Boyle/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — America faces a mounting child care crisis. Too many families lack access to safe, affordable and high-quality care for their infants and toddlers. But a small but important provision in last year’s tax law, designed to spur investment in under-resourced communities, could provide an unlikely solution.

That solution comes in the form of a new economic development incentive known as Opportunity Zones. Under the tax law, investors will receive a steep reduction in taxes on their capital gains in exchange for substantial and long-term investment in low-income communities designated as Opportunity Zones. This tax incentive could be combined with others in the economic development toolkit, such as the New Markets Tax Credit and historic building preservation tax credits, to support a wide variety of investments in real estate and businesses.

Democratic Activists Could Tip the Scale in Close Races — But Then What?
Grassroots groups have been organizing on the ground for nearly two years

Protesters wave to cars outside of GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney’s office in Utica. (Bridget Bowman/CQ Roll Call)

UTICA, N.Y. — On this particular Friday, the protesters outside of Rep. Claudia Tenney’s office were having trouble holding onto their signs. 

The wind whipped around them as a dozen activists did what they had done every Friday for the last 18 months: stand on the grass between French Road and the small brick office building and hold signs in opposition to the first-term GOP congresswoman.

‘Monster’ Hurricane Michael Is a ‘Big Tornado,’ Trump Warns
President mulls canceling Wednesday night campaign stop in Pennsylvania

Hurricane Michael, fueled by warm Gulf of Mexico waters, is like a “massive tornado,” President Trump warns. (National Weather Service photo)

Hurricane Michael is a “massive tornado” that is about to cause widespread damage in Florida and nearby states as the category four storm makes landfall, President Donald Trump warned Wednesday.

After receiving a briefing on the hurricane from Homeland Security officials, the president said Michael began “innocently” but then “grew into a monster.”

Water Resources Bill Would Speed Hydropower Licensing
Cantwell: Utilities could better plan ahead

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the top Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says the 2018 water projects authorization bill would give utilities the flexibility to “better plan ahead.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Hydropower facilities would get permits faster if the 2018 water projects authorization bill passes the Senate Wednesday — a rare inclusion of an energy title on the bill known for its transportation and drinking water projects.

After senators voted 96-3 to invoke cloture Tuesday night on the water resources development bill, the Senate will likely clear the bill as early as Wednesday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.

Tax Break for Electric Vehicles in the Crosshairs
Barrasso: ‘Wealthiest Americans’ benefit at the expense of taxpayers

Tesla vehicles stand outside of a Brooklyn showroom and service center in August. Legislation unveiled Tuesday would end a tax incentive for electric vehicles. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images file photo)

The chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee unveiled legislation Tuesday to end the $7,500 tax incentive for electric vehicles.

The yet-unnumbered bill comes as a United Nations report on climate change, released over the weekend, outlined dire consequences for the planet in the absence of global action to drastically reduce carbon output over the next decade.

EPA Proposal Would End Summer Ban on Ethanol Motor Fuel — With the Midterms Just a Month Away
Some corn state Republicans facing tough re-election bids

The Environmental Protection Agency will propose an end to the summer ban on motor fuel made with ethanol according to a senior White House official. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA will propose to end the summer ban on the sale of motor fuel made with 15 percent ethanol, according to a senior White House official.

The move is sure to please corn state lawmakers such as Iowa Republican Sens. Charles E. Grassley and Joni Ernst, who have spent the better part of the last year and a half pushing the Trump administration to do more to enforce requirements under the so-called Renewable Fuel Standard — a federal mandate to boost renewable fuels like ethanol in the nation’s gasoline mix.

Republicans Need a Cold Compress With Less Than One Month to Go
Presidential pain still plagues vulnerable incumbents ahead of the midterms

President Donald Trump may turn out Democrats better than any Democrat could. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — Weather metaphors are often used (and overused) in election analysis, but there’s a better way to describe the Republicans’ challenge in 2018. The GOP is dealing with many headaches as it tries to preserve the Republican congressional majorities.

From tension to cluster to migraine, they can vary in frequency and severity. And Republicans’ ability to alleviate them will determine control of the House and Senate in the 116th Congress.

New Ad Knocks California Republican Diane Harkey on Offshore Drilling
League of Conservation Voters is targeting GOP nominee for Issa seat

Republican Diane Harkey faces Democrat Mike Levin in California’s 49th District. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The campaign arm of the League of Conservation Voters is launching a new television ad targeting Republican Diane Harkey on offshore drilling in an open-seat race in Southern California. 

Harkey, an elected member the California State Board of Equalization that oversees taxation, faces environmental lawyer Mike Levin for the 49th District seat that longtime GOP Rep. Darrell Issa is vacating.

‘Forever Chemicals’ Seep Into Michigan’s Water (and House Races)
PFAS contamination is a worry across the state

When Rep. Fred Upton faces off against his Democratic challenger in Michigan’s 6th District, so-called forever chemicals will be on many voters’ minds. Above, Upton runs out of the Capitol after the last votes of the week in April. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Years after the Flint water crisis drew national attention, another water pollution issue has emerged in House races in Michigan.

Residents are growing concerned about human exposure to so-called forever chemicals, known as perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. The chemicals, linked to health problems such as hypertension in pregnant women and a higher risk of developing certain cancers, have been found in groundwater and drinking water systems across the state.

Midterm Elections Hold Ultimate Verdict on Kavanaugh
McConnell asserts confirmation process driving up Republican enthusiasm

The final verdict on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh may be delivered in the midterm elections. (POOL PHOTO/SAUL LOEB/AFP)

Even before Saturday’s Senate vote made Brett Kavanaugh a Supreme Court justice, senators from both parties said voters soon would deliver the final verdict on President Donald Trump’s divisive appointment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in an interview with Roll Call a month ahead of Election Day, said the contentious debate about the confirmation process was driving up base enthusiasm for the 2018 midterm elections.

Mitch McConnell Sees Electoral Gains From Fight Over Brett Kavanaugh
Interview with Roll Call came ahead of confirmation vote

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell makes his way through the Capitol for a TV interview before the vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court on Saturday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Brett Kavanaugh was on the verge of confirmation Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was sounding sure the Supreme Court battle will prove a benefit to Senate Republicans at the polls in November.

In an interview with Roll Call a month ahead of Election Day, the Kentucky Republican said the debate was really driving up base enthusiasm for the 2018 mid-terms.

GOP Super PAC Launches New Ad in Washington’s 8th District
Congressional Leadership Fund is attacking Democrat Kim Schrier

Republican Dino Rossi is running against Democrat Kim Schrier in Washington’s 8th District. (D.A. Banks/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The super PAC tied to House Republican leadership is launching a new ad aimed at Democrat Kim Schrier in the competitive open-seat race in Washington’s 8th District. 

Congressional Leadership Fund’s latest ad, provided first to Roll Call, knocks Schrier’s support for a state income tax — citing a candidate questionnaire — and an energy tax. If elected to Congress, she would not have influence over taxes administered by the state government.

Keith Ellison Called Ex-Girlfriend a ‘Bitch’ Once — That’s It, He Says
Ellison considering stepping down from DNC to focus on attorney general race

Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., has denied that he physically or emotionally abused his former girlfriend. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Keith Ellison admitted that he once called his ex-girlfriend a “bitch” during an argument about finances in 2013 — but that’s it, according to a report compiled by outside investigator Susan Ellingstad.

Ellingstad was hired by the Minnesota Democratic party in August to investigate claims from Ellison’s former girlfriend, Karen Monahan, that he physically and emotionally abused her during their relationship.

House GOP Moving Right, Democratic Direction Less Clear
With pragmatists in fewer supply among Republicans, conference will be in less of a mood to compromise

The retirement of pragmatic Republicans like Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., threatens to move the House Republican Conference further to the right. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — We don’t know exactly how many House seats Democrats will gain in November, though Democratic control of the chamber next year looks almost inevitable. But even now it is clear that the midterm results will move Republicans further to the right. Where the Democrats will stand is less clear.

In the House, GOP losses will be disproportionately large in the suburbs and among members of the Republican Main Street Partnership, the House GOP group that puts “country over party” and values “compromise over conflict,” according to its website.