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At the Races: Desert Drama
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

The primary in the race to replace GOP Rep. Trent Franks is Tuesday. Franks resigned in December amid allegations of sexual harassment. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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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.

Podcast: A Map Puts Pennsylvania on Political Center Stage
Roll Call Decoder, Episode 4

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pa., runs past Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., on the House steps as members of Congress leave for the 4th of July recess following the final votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday, June, 29, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The state’s Democratic congressional roster could grow by half a dozen, a huge boost for the party’s bid to take back the House this fall, thanks to new district lines drawn by the state’s highest court. Roll Call political reporter Bridget Bowman explains the party’s boosted targets for opportunity now that one of the nation’s most partisan gerrymandered maps has been re-colored in purple. 

Show Notes:

Democratic Leaders Request FBI Funding to Stop Russian Influence in Midterms
Also call for release of public report

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer make their way to the Senate floor. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Key Democratic lawmakers urged Republican leadership Wednesday to include additional FBI funding in the fiscal 2018 spending bill to combat possible Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections.

The request comes after the Justice Department charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies Friday over alleged attempts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Pence: Give Police, Families Tools for Mentally Disturbed
VP vows massive job creation via beefed-up space program

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr., D-Va., speaks with D.C.-area students and supporters as they hold a protest against gun violence with a lie-in outside of the White House on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration intends to give law enforcement and families the “tools they need to deal with” people who have health issues that might drive them to commit violent acts like mass shootings, Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday.

As during similar remarks late last week, however, the vice president did not specify how much that might cost or whether the administration will seek emergency funds or push Congress to include the required monies in fiscal 2018 and 2019 spending measures.

Coffman Gets Booed Over Guns at Town Hall Meeting
Criticized for votes on concealed carry and mental health restrictions

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., was criticized about gun legislation at a town hall in his home district. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman was criticized at a town hall event in Greenwood Village, Colorado, for not taking action on guns. 

Coffman, a perennial target for Democrats, was booed when he said “reasonable restrictions within the parameters of the Second Amendment,” The Associated Press reported.

New Pennsylvania Map, New Pennsylvania House Ratings
Six races shift in Democrats’ direction, two in GOP’s favor

Under the new lines, Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s district shifted from one carried narrowly by President Donald Trump to one carried narrowly by Hillary Clinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you’ve been wondering what political handicapping is like in a redistricting cycle — or it’s been long enough for you to forget — the Pennsylvania Supreme Court offered a good reminder.

With newly drawn districts, misplaced incumbents and new district numbers, confusion is inevitable. But the bottom line for Pennsylvania is that Democrats had a half-dozen takeover opportunities with the old map and they have a half-dozen takeover opportunities with the new map, although they have a distinctly better chance at gaining those seats.

Spotlight on House After Senate Failure to Pass DACA Fix
White House puts pressure on House Republicans to advance conservative bill

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said the House will only take up an immigration bill if it has President Donald Trump’s support. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate’s failure to advance immigration legislation last week took some pressure off House Republican leaders whose members wanted to ensure their chamber would offer a conservative counterproposal rather than just accept whatever the Senate produced.

But the White House — blamed by Democrats for killing a bipartisan Senate measure they believe could have cleared a 60-vote threshold without administration interference — is trying to keep the heat on the House.

Analysis: Running Against Pelosi May Not Save the GOP This Year
Tried-and-true strategy unlikely to move the needle much in November

The Republican strategy to keep the House in 2018 includes running against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. But that may not move the political needle much, Rothenberg writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It is no secret that the Republican strategy to keep the House in 2018 includes running against Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund super PAC have run television ads during special elections this cycle linking Democratic nominees to Pelosi, and GOP strategists are gleeful when they talk about the Democratic leader’s baggage and their intention to use her in their TV ads.

Democrats See Blue in Pennsylvania With New Map
GOP legislators are expected to challenge new boundaries

Pennsylvania Rep. Ryan A. Costello’s district is now more Democratic, under the new congressional map. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court released a new congressional map Monday, potentially bolstering Democratic opportunities in the Keystone State. 

Republicans are expected to launch a challenge to stop the new lines from taking effect. In the meantime, as candidates and incumbents digest the new boundaries, Democrats see better chances for victory in some of their top targets.