Alaska

New hearing on D.C. statehood, same old partisan lines
Effort to provide D.C. residents with full congressional representation gains steam in House

From left, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Mayor Muriel Bowser veteran Kerwin E. Miller, and Dr. Roger Pilon, attend the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing titled “H.R. 51: Making D.C. the 51st State,” in Rayburn Building on Thursday, September 19, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The first House hearing on D.C. statehood in nearly 26 years revealed old battle lines over giving the District of Columbia’s 702,000 residents full representation in Congress. House Oversight Committee Democrats applauded statehood as a long-overdue correction of an anomaly, while Republicans said corruption made D.C. unfit for full voting rights and claimed the whole thing was unconstitutional anyway. 

Thursday’s hearing grappled with HR 51, a bill that would admit the State of Washington, Douglass Commonwealth, into the Union as the country’s 51st state, and provide it one House representative and two senators in Congress. The District is currently represented by a nonvoting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat who introduced the bill.

As House passes Arctic drilling ban, Interior goes the other way
Trump administration moves to open part of sensitive area to drilling, a win for Alaska Republicans

A pair of moose are seen near the Sheenjek River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. (Alexis Bonogofsky/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

The Interior Department and the House are moving in different directions on Arctic drilling.

Hours after the House voted 225-193 to block oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the agency said it was moving to open a portion of the area to drilling.

House takes aim at Trump’s drilling plan with three bills
Bills would block offshore exploration in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts

A surfer rides a wave at the Huntington Beach pier with an oil rig and Catalina Island in the background in Huntington Beach, CA in 2018 (Photo by Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)

Lawmakers from both parties evoked the memory of the 2010 BP oil spill Tuesday to drum up support for a trio of House bills that would hamper offshore drilling and President Donald Trump's energy agenda. 

The House is expected to vote Wednesday and Thursday on three bipartisan bills that would block exploration in parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Rep. Duncan Hunter has almost depleted his legal expense fund
California Republican faces mounting legal bills as his team prepares for trial in January

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., has spent over $60,000 from his legal expense fund. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Duncan Hunter has spent almost all of his money from a legal expense fund, a potentially bleak harbinger leading up to his fast-approaching trial in January for allegedly using campaign money for personal use, financial filings show.

The Duncan D. Hunter Legal Expense Trust has spent $60,562.41 as of the most recent filing, which was received by the Legislative Resource Center on July 26. Hunter’s legal expense fund has received $68,800 total, some of which is from powerful donors who have also contributed to Hunter’s reelection efforts.

2020 census affects more than representation, billions at stake
The census influences more than $800 billion in federal government spending and business decisions

Protesters hold signs at rally in front of U.S. Supreme Court after ruling on census was handed down. In Alaska, census results drive tens of millions of dollars from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to Native American communities to help build up housing that is lacking. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Less than 300 miles from the Arctic Circle, Toksook Bay, Alaska, has about 600 people, a dozen or so streets and averages a high of 12 degrees in January, the month the 2020 census will begin there.

The responses among Alaska Natives in Toksook Bay and throughout the state could have a huge impact on the future of their community, not just in terms of political representation but whether they have a roof over their heads.

Del. Holmes Norton ‘sees good news’ in a poll finding a majority reject D.C. statehood
Gallup found 64 percent of Americans oppose making Washington, D.C., a separate state.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., left, and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser. A new Gallup poll found a majority of Americans do not support D.C. statehood. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton “sees good news” in a new Gallup poll that found a majority of Americans reject D.C. statehood.

The Gallup poll, conducted in June and released Monday, found 64 percent of Americans oppose making Washington a separate state. It was released to coincide with a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Holmes Norton’s statehood bill, which has been postponed to accommodate testimony from Robert S. Mueller III.  

Democrats condemn Trump’s racist tweets, congressional Republicans mostly silent
House Rules Committee Chairman Jim McGovern calls his GOP colleagues ‘cowards’

Democratic Reps. Ayanna S. Pressley, from right, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Veronica Escobar  testify about their trip ICE detention facilities at the southern border last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | While Democrats were united in their condemnation of President Donald Trump’s call Sunday for four members of Congress to “go back” to “the crime infested countries from which they came,” Republicans on Monday were slow to publicly comment on the president’s tirade. 

On the Republican side of the aisle, condemnations of Trump for calling four of their colleagues unworthy to serve in Congress because of their non-European heritage were slow to materialize. Even as conservative pundits decried the president’s targeting of four progressive lawmakers — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — as an ugly attack rooted in racism, not a political critique. 

Census may be delayed in Trump’s bid for citizenship question
President Donald Trump said Thursday he will seek to get it approved, even if the national count is delayed

Protesters hold signs at a rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court after their ruling on the census was handed down on Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to block a citizenship question on the 2020 census, President Donald Trump said Thursday he will seek to get it approved, even if the national count is delayed.

Hours after the court in a 5-4 opinion held the administration had not properly justified its reason for adding the question, Trump tweeted that he asked attorneys to potentially delay the census in order to bring the case back to the court. That could run up against the administration’s June 30 deadline for adding the question and printing more than 1 billion census documents on time.

House Democrats lose procedural vote to GOP minority for first time in months
Approval of Republican motion to recommit on Financial Services spending bill added a last-minute Iran amendment

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the members of his caucus who voted for the GOP motion to recommit felt they had to support the Iran language. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Democratic majority on Wednesday lost a procedural vote to the Republican minority for the first time in four months, as 37 Democrats joined Republicans in adding a last-minute Iran amendment to the Financial Services spending bill.

The amendment was approved through a Republican motion to recommit, or MTR — a procedural tool of the minority used primarily for messaging.

Familiar offsets could resurface in spending caps talks
Budget watchdog groups start to dust off older proposals, as well as some new ones

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wants offsets for any increase to discretionary spending caps. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Another year, another spending caps negotiation — accordingly it’s time once again to check the couch cushions for “pay-fors” just innocuous enough to skate by without kicking up too much lobbying dust.

For instance, extending automatic cuts to Medicare and dozens of other “mandatory” spending accounts, which have become so routine they’re almost unnoticed, has been a mainstay of all three deals in the last five years to relieve the pressure on appropriators. Extending fees collected by Customs and Border Protection on passenger and cargo arrivals in the U.S., first enacted in 1985, has been rolled over constantly as a go-to offset for all manner of legislation, including the 2013 and 2018 spending deals.