Energy & Environment

Cruz Escalates Intra-GOP Fight With Grassley Over Biofuels
‘This is about jobs’

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walks through the Senate subway as he leaves the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

By calling for price caps on renewable fuel credits, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz on Wednesday made clear that a wide gulf remains between lawmakers from agricultural states and those from oil patch states over the future of biofuels, even within the GOP. 

His comments also dimmed hopes that Cruz would lift his hold on the confirmation of Bill Northey, an Iowan nominated by President Donald Trump to be undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation at the Department of Agriculture. That hold has led to rhetorical skirmishes between Cruz and Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley.

House Oversight Probes Scott Pruitt’s Travel Expenses
EPA administrator has been under fire for first-class travel and luxury hotel stays

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is among several Trump administration officials under scrutiny for possible travel violations . (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As questions about the official travel habits of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt mount, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is demanding documents and other information on his first-class flights, as it looks into whether federal laws were broken.

Pruitt has for several months been under fire for incurring high travel costs at taxpayer expense. After recent news reports of Pruitt’s use of expensive first-class flights and stays at luxury hotels, an EPA spokesman said the administrator had been given a “blanket waiver” to fly first class for security reasons.

Scott Walker Backs Patrick Morrisey in West Virginia Senate Primary
Morrisey is running for GOP nod to take on Manchin in November

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is picking up the endorsement of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday endorsed West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in his bid for the GOP nomination for Senate. 

“Attorney General Morrisey’s strong, conservative record is exactly what West Virginia needs in its next senator,” Walker said in a statement obtained first by Roll Call. 

Hoyer Heads to Rust Belt on Second ‘Listening Tour’
House minority whip will stop in Pittsburgh, Toledo and Indianapolis

House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is going on a listening tour this weekend to talk about entrepreneurship, education and infrastructure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Democrats try to fine tune their economic message heading into this year’s midterms, House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer is hitting the road this weekend for his second “Make It in America” listening tour.

Starting Saturday and continuing through Tuesday, the Maryland Democrat will travel to Pittsburgh, followed by Toledo, Ohio, and finally Indianapolis with members of his House caucus. He’ll be meeting with small groups to talk about entrepreneurship, infrastructure and education.

Corker Lifts Blanket Hold on Arms Sales to Gulf States
Still no clear path on Gulf Cooperation Council rift

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker has lifted a months-long hold on weapon sales to Gulf countries after it failed to encourage a resolution to the ongoing diplomatic standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

In a letter this week, the Tennessee Republican notified Secretary of State Rex Tillerson he was ending his eight-month blanket hold on lethal defense equipment sales to the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which comprises Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

K Street Reinvents Itself in the Era of Trump
Presidency, GOP Congress and surge of grass-roots resistance mean uncertainty

Andy Rosenberg and Harriet Melvin of Thorn Run Partners are adapting to a changing lobbying environment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Harriet Melvin, a Republican lobbyist whose clients include songwriters, the National Football League and eBay, has observed dramatic changes in the influence industry during more than two decades in the business.

Political upheaval, partisan stalemate on Capitol Hill and technological innovations have all disrupted and transformed the much-maligned, $4 billion-a-year federal lobbying business.

Opinion: The Russians — and the Midterms — Are Coming
U.S. elections are vulnerable, and that needs to change

A march near the Kremlin in 2015 honors Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin who was fatally shot shortly before a major opposition rally. Reps. Bennie Thompson and Robert A. Brady warn against Russian meddling in future U.S. elections. (Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images file photo)

In November 2016, 139 million Americans cast their votes in the wake of a massive Russian cyber-enabled operation to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

The Kremlin spread disinformation through hundreds of thousands of social media posts. Russian agents hacked U.S. political organizations and selectively exposed sensitive information. Russia targeted voting systems in at least 21 states, seeking to infiltrate the networks of voting equipment vendors, political parties and at least one local election board.

Winners and Losers in the Trump Budget in One Chart
Administration released its budget request Monday

The president’s budget request includes $1.1 trillion in discretionary funds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration submitted its fiscal 2019 budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday, outlining the president’s priorities for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Roll Call analyzed the documents and put together the following graphic on the departmental winners and losers in the proposed budget:

‘Crisis Budgeting’ Likely Ahead Despite White House Claim
‘All sorts of riders’ could bring new shutdown threats, experts say

Copies of President Donald Trump’’s 2019 budget request are unpacked by House Budget Committee staff on Monday. Experts say it won’t end Washington’s decade of ‘crisis budgeting.’ (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

White House officials contend the two-year budget deal that became law last week will end Washington’s spending crises and government shutdown threats. But President Donald Trump’s new budget request suggests otherwise.

Trump himself was lukewarm about the spending package he signed last week, which raised defense and domestic spending caps for the remaining seven-and-a-half months of this fiscal year and the next. And the president had little to say about the fiscal 2019 budget blueprint his administration sent to Capitol Hill on Monday. But his top aides painted each one as game-changing documents.

Budget Proposal Funds Latest Pentagon Strategy
‘Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities for the Department’

Aerial view of the Pentagon building photographed on Sept. 24, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Trump administration is seeking to give the Defense Department as much money as Congress can appropriate for fiscal year 2019 to fund the Pentagon’s newest strategy and to fulfill President Donald Trump’s repeated promise to rebuild the military.

The Pentagon request released Monday claims to align with the Pentagon’s recently released National Defense Strategy, which elevates the possibility of great power conflict with Russia and China as the country’s greatest security concern, eclipsing terrorism.

House Appropriators Ready to Carve Up Budget Deal
Side deal among leaders would divide spending, and could divide members

House Appropriations member Steve Womack, who is also Budget chairman, said he and his fellow appropriators never like to have their work spelled out for them. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A side agreement among congressional leaders to allocate some of the new nondefense funding to opioid abuse prevention, infrastructure and several other priorities is complicating the plan to write a fiscal 2018 omnibus.

Even if that weren’t the case, appropriators say they don’t like being micromanaged.

Opinion: Budget Deal Gives New Meaning to ‘March Madness’
Upcoming March deadlines point to a budget process in shambles

The Trump administration’s fiscal 2018 budget plan was effectively ignored by Congress, which adopted its own blueprint with the sole focus of getting a tax bill through, Hoagland writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Green shoots of bipartisanship are sprouting on Capitol Hill. A lengthy government shutdown or worse — a default on paying our debt — has been avoided with the two-year budget agreement.

Congress must now fill in the account-level details to fulfill the $1.2 trillion spending “agreement” before the current continuing resolution runs out on March 23. Combining this year’s final appropriation actions with the president’s March 5 deadline for the Deferred Arrivals for Childhood Arrivals program will give new meaning to “March Madness.”

Opinion: On DACA, Not All Bitter Pills Are Poison
To break the stalemate, lawmakers from both parties will need to swallow proposals they don’t like

Heather Piña Ledezma, 6, attends a news conference in 2014 in the Capitol to call on Congress to pass immigration legislation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After months of talks, Congress is still stuck in the throes of an immigration debate it didn’t want but now needs to settle. And after months of signaling — and then retracting — support for various proposals, President Donald Trump finally laid out a clear, one-page summary of a deal he would accept on permanent protections for DACA recipients and “Dreamers.”

Both Republicans and Democrats had hoped the plan would help move things forward. Instead, it managed to anger both sides quickly and equally. That reaction is often the sign of a viable compromise, but this plan instead joined nearly every other immigration proposal — from hard-right enforcement-heavy bills, to progressive attempts at a clean DREAM Act, to the bipartisan Gang of Six proposal — as a nonstarter.

DCCC Staffer and ‘Dreamer’ Will Do Anything It Takes to Win Back House
Javier Gamboa, brought to the U.S. when he was 11, is a rising star in a political system where he cannot vote

Javier Gamboa, director of Hispanic media for the DCCC, is one of hundreds of thousands of Dreamers waiting to see how Congress decides their fate. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Everyone at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is in overdrive to flip the House blue this November. That’s their job.

But perhaps no one in the office feels a more profound sense of urgency to get it done than Javier Gamboa.

Jenkins Leads Morrisey in Internal Poll of West Virginia Primary
Republicans locked in competitive May 8 primary to take on Manchin

West Virginia Rep. Evan Jenkins led the Republican Senate primary field  in a poll commissioned by his campaign. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

West Virginia Rep. Evan Jenkins led the primary field for the Republican nomination for Senate in an automated poll conducted earlier this month for his campaign.

Jenkins was ahead of his closest opponent, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, 33 percent to 25 percent among GOP primary voters in the six-way matchup, results of which were obtained first by Roll Call.