Betty McCollum

At the Races: Second to Last in the Nation
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

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Welcome to At the Races! You can keep track of House and Senate races with this weekly newsletter by subscribing here. We want to hear what you think. Email us at attheraces@cqrollcall.com with your questions, tips or candidate sightings. — Simone Pathé, Bridget Bowman and Stephanie Akin

Democrats on DeVos Gun Proposal: ‘A Fountain of Bad Ideas’
Comes after report Education Department considers letting states use federal funds to buy guns for schools

Democrats criticized a report Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering allowing states and localities to buy guns for schools. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats are slamming Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos over a report that the Department of Education is considering allowing states to use federal dollars to purchase guns for schools.

The New York Times reported Thursday that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have the discretion to approve state or local plans to purchase guns for teachers.

Divide Over Israel Widens in Democratic Party
Party voices in favor of Palestinian rights, BDS are getting louder

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, here at the Capitol in March, has backed several of President Donald Trump’s domestic policies, further contributing to his country’s divide with Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On the surface, it looks like the U.S.-Israel relationship is having its best year ever. In May, President Donald Trump fulfilled Israel’s dream of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and his administration is preparing a Middle East peace plan that will almost certainly have Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s blessing. Congress, meanwhile, is poised to approve $3.3 billion in new defense assistance to Israel, a new high.

But there are political undercurrents that spell trouble for what has traditionally been unquestioned U.S. support for Israel, particularly within the Democratic Party on the eve of a midterm election that could swing the balance of power in one or both chambers of Congress and perhaps profoundly and permanently change the dynamic between the longtime allies.

Rules Readies Financial Services, Interior-Environment Bill
McHenry files only GOP leadership amendment

Chief Deputy Whip Patrick T. McHenry, R-N.C., removes his bow tie as he walks down the House steps after the final vote of the week on Thursday, March 22, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Rules Committee recommended a rule Monday that would allow 87 amendments to be heard when the House turns to floor debate of the combined fiscal 2019 Interior-Environment and Financial Services spending bill this week.

Among the amendments will be a Republican provision to bar the U.S. Postal Service from expanding its offering of banking services. But an amendment to provide $380 million in grant funding to states to beef up election security, pushed repeatedly by Democrats citing Russian meddling in the 2016 election, didn’t make the cut.

Special, Special, Special Elections
Gearing up for the midterms amid one special election after another

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Emmer Wins First Franken-less Minnesota Hotdish Competition
Sen. Tina Smith took over as host of the 8th annual event

Minnesota congressional delegation members, from left, Reps. Jason Lewis, Erik Paulsen, Keith Ellison, Tim Walz, and Betty McCollum, and Sen. Tina Smith pose for a selfie Wednesday during the eighth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Tom Emmer’s “Hotdish of Champions” won the eighth annual Minnesota Congressional Delegation Hotdish Competition on Wednesday.

He was originally tied for first with Rep. Rick Nolan’s “Last Dish Effort” — aptly named because the congressman is retiring after this term — but the master of ceremonies, MinnPost Washington bureau chief Sam Brodey, broke the tie. 

GAO: Pruitt’s Pricey Privacy Booth Violated Federal Law
Monday report states funds were not legally available

A staffer exits the Senate subway on April 11 with a poster detailing EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s ethics issues. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The EPA violated federal law when it paid more than $43,000 to install a soundproof privacy booth for Administrator Scott Pruitt without first notifying congressional appropriators, the Government Accountability Office said.

The agency violated the law by using more than $5,000 of fiscal 2017 appropriated funds for an unintended purpose without giving lawmakers advance notice, GAO investigators wrote in a report released Monday.

EPA Shouldn’t Have Paid for Pruitt’s Broken-Down Condo Door, McCollum Says
Minnesota rep was there when security detail kicked in door after not being able to reach him

The security detail for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, kicked in his door in a Washington condo building when they couldn’t awaken him from a nap. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Betty McCollum has questions for the Environmental Protection Agency after it reimbursed the owners of a condo that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was renting for the cost of repairing a broken door.

The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member, who happens to sit on the House subcommittee that oversees the EPA’s budget, owns a condo downstairs from the one Pruitt was renting from the wife of energy lobbyist J. Steven Hart.

Photos of the Week: State of the Union, GOP Retreat Continues After Crash
The week of Jan. 29 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan arrives in the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans carried on with their annual retreat this week, after member-doctors sprung to action when the Amtrak locomotive pulling GOP lawmakers to their West Virginia destination collided with a garbage truck on Wednesday, killing one of its passengers.

The previous night, President Donald Trump stayed on track during his first State of the Union address in the House chamber. 

What Happens to Franken’s Seat If He Resigns?
Governor would appoint placeholder, followed by special election in November 2018

There could be two Senate elections next fall in Minnesota instead of just one. If Sen. Al Franken steps down, there would be a special election for the remainder of his term. Senior Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s seat is also up next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Minnesota Sen. Al Franken isn’t up for re-election until 2020. But if he announces his resignation Thursday, the North Star State will be holding two Senate elections next fall.

Ahead of next November, though, not much would shift in the Senate. If Democratic-Farmer-Labor Gov. Mark Dayton appoints another Democrat immediately, the balance of power in the Senate would remain unchanged.