energy

Trump signs ‘phase one’ China pact, first of two trade milestones this week
Senate to take up NAFTA replacement before impeachment trial begins

President Donald Trump gestures as he speaks during a “Keep America Great” campaign rally in Milwaukee on Tuesday night. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid the impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the first of two significant milestones on trade — an agreement with China that amounts to a ceasefire in his war with the Asian giant.

Trump is expected to get a second win on the issue later this week, with the Senate expected to approve a revised trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Aides say Trump plans to trumpet both as part of his reelection sales pitch that he is a good steward of the economy.

Climate-focused Democrats hope for November reward
They seek to solidify themselves as the party of climate action

Jane Fonda, center, and Susan Sarandon, red scarf, march toward the Capitol on Friday during a weekly rally to call for action on climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats know that their “comprehensive” climate plans are unlikely to see the light of day in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate and face vetoes by a president who has at times rejected the scientific consensus on global warming.

But there’s a strategy afoot to solidify Democrats’ election-year banner as the party of climate action and lure young, independent and even Republican voters disgruntled with the Trump administration’s retreat on environmental issues, analysts say.

Trump suggests Iran downed Ukrainian airliner, potentially by accident
U.S. officials haven't publicly stated what caused the crash yet

President Donald Trump arrives at the White House after a rally in Michigan on Dec. 19, 2019. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Thursday suggested Iran shot down a Ukrainian airliner earlier this week — possibly by mistake.

“Well, I have my suspicions,” he told reporters following an energy event in the White House. “It’s a tragic thing. … Somebody could have made a mistake on the other side. … It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood.

Mar-a-Limbo: With Senate trial on hold, Trump faces uncertainty during Florida vacation
Despite likely acquittal, presidential scholars see an executive office likely changed forever

President Donald Trump arrives on the South Lawn of the White House before speaking to members of the media in Washington on Oct. 10. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers unveil two mega spending packages
Health taxes to be repealed, tobacco age raised in year-end deal

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, not pictured, announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal on a spending agreement before government funding runs out at the end of this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16 at 6:05 p.m.

House appropriators filed two mega spending packages for floor consideration Tuesday after hammering out last-minute details over the weekend.

US irks Mexico with a labor detail in trade implementing bill
US oversight of Mexican factories is a sensitive issue

Jesus Seade, Mexico’s top trade negotiator, said he was surprised to find a provision in legislation to implement the USMCA that would post U.S. Labor Department officials in Mexico to ensure his country was complying with the agreement. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

A seemingly small detail in the 239-page implementing legislation for a revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement has stirred objections from Mexico as the House prepares to vote this week on the pact. The legislation proposes more than $2 billion in U.S. money to enforce the agreement and to deal with its consequences.

Jesus Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary of foreign affairs for North America, said over the weekend he was surprised to find that the bill calls for posting up to five Labor Department personnel to the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to oversee his country’s compliance with labor provisions. Seade said a separate packet of revisions to the proposed USMCA signed by the three countries on Dec. 10 doesn’t note that number.

Craft distillers, retailers wait anxiously for tax extenders
Stakeholders predict layoffs, hiring freezes if deal is not struck by end of year

Rep. Denver Riggleman says it would be “disastrous” for his wife’s Virginia distillery if a 2017 provision that cut excise taxes is not extended past its Dec. 31 expiration date. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Denver Riggleman says a looming tax increase on small craft distillers will lead to layoffs at the distillery his family operates in Afton, Virginia, where they make a handful of spirits with colorful names like Strange Monkey Gin and Blackback Bourbon.

And Jeff Quint, a Swisher, Iowa, distillery owner who makes bourbon from corn grown on his family farm, says the demise of the small distillers’ break will force him to rethink new hires he’d been planning.

Pelosi: Climate panel is not just ‘an academic endeavor’
Select committee headed by Castor said to be readying recommendations for ‘major’ legislation in 2020

Castor's climate panel is to make recommendations for legislation in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats will unveil major climate legislation in the spring after the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis releases a set of recommendations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.

Pelosi said House Democrats would follow the conclusions of the committee, which was established at the start of this Congress and has held more than a dozen hearings on climate change and its underpinning science, to draft what she said would be bipartisan legislation.

Former EPA advisers say agency’s mercury proposal is flawed
Process for devising proposal to weaken Obama-era pollution rule was ‘fatally flawed,’ they say

The EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standard targeted emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.  (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As the EPA gets closer to finalizing changes to an Obama-era air pollution rule, a group of former agency advisers says the Trump administration’s attempt to weaken the mercury emissions regulations is based on faulty and outdated data.

The Trump administration a year ago proposed a rule that would revoke the EPA’s legal justification for issuing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard rule that aimed to curb hazardous air emissions from coal- and oil-fired power plants.

Impeachment cloud to follow Trump across pond for ‘celebratory’ NATO meeting
‘The politics of this alliance are so difficult,’ former State Department official says ahead of talks

President Donald Trump will meet privately with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at this week’s NATO summit in London. Above, the three leaders at the G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, in August. (Ian Langsdon/AFP via Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump’s attendance this week in London for a summit with world leaders comes with a cloud of scandal and controversy hanging over the American president.

White House aides say Trump will use the two-day NATO summit Tuesday and Wednesday to continue pressing member nations to pay more into the alliance’s coffers. He also will urge his counterparts to do more to counter what one U.S. official described as China’s attempts to infect NATO soil with “cheap money” and “cheap investment” that aims to “trap nations in debt, and thus bring diplomatic concessions.”