North Dakota

Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, told two committees that refiner claims to tax credits for butane blends could cost nearly $50 billion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

Pollution in paradise reaches high court with high stakes
Decision on Hawaii wastewater could have wide impact on Clean Water Act enforcement

Pacific Ocean coral reefs off the coast of Hawaii are threatened by pollution from Maui County, according to environmental groups. (Photo by: David Fleetham/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A lawsuit with sweeping nationwide implications for the regulation of water pollution makes its way to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The case, County of Maui v. Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, hinges on the origin of water pollution and the scope of the Clean Water Act.

Campus Notebook: Capitol Police sexual discrimination trial set for Monday
Senate Indian Affairs Committee staffer paid to work Washington Redskins training camp

Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund. The agency he leads is fighting a sexual discrimination lawsuit. The trial is set to start Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Are you ready for some football? How about a sexual discrimination case? Whatever it is, Campus Notebook is here for you. 

A sexual discrimination case against the Capitol Police could provide a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the secretive agency and the way women are treated in the male-dominated police force.

Photos of the Week: Halloween and impeachment collide
The week of Nov. 1 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., walks by a protester outside the Capitol after the House voted on its resolution outlining the next steps in the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Hemp industry growth hints at potential field of dreams
“Maybe, just maybe, hemp could be a really big deal sometime in the future,” McConnell says

An attendee stops at the Hemp Magazine booth at the Southern Hemp Expo in Franklin, Tenn., on Sept. 7, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Mitch McConnell saw a potential replacement for tobacco in 2014, as the federal program to buy out tobacco farmers was ending. McConnell got provisions into a farm bill allowing states to license and monitor hemp production. The Kentucky Republican, now as majority leader, followed through in 2018, using another farm bill to take hemp off the controlled substances list.

Kentucky in 2019 is one of the leading hemp producers. Vote Hemp, an industry advocacy organization, says the state has licensed an estimated 60,000 acres for production. That’s still a fraction of the 58 million acres of tobacco the Agriculture Department forecast Kentucky would harvest in 2019, but it’s almost 12 percent of the Vote Hemp’s estimate of the U.S. acreage licensed to hemp.

Campus Notebook: Lawmakers to Prague, staff to Fargo, plus million-dollar trades
Lawmaker travel, stock trades, ethics complaints and other updates

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Campus notebook this week highlights where a former top law enforcement official went after he retired from the Capitol Police, international travel by members, domestic travel of staffers and substantial stock trades.

Air ambulance services face scrutiny over surprise billing issues
Outrage over surprise medical bills has pushed issue near top of political health care agenda

More than two-thirds of air ambulance rides in 2017 were out of the patient’s insurance network, according to a March General Accounting Office report. (Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images file photo)

Patients whisked or transferred to hospitals by air ambulances face time-sensitive emergencies — from strokes to traumatic accidents — so whether the helicopter carrying them is in their insurance network isn’t usually a top-priority question.

Weeks later, many of these patients receive an unpleasant surprise: a bill demanding tens of thousands of dollars.

Where Is Amelia Earhart? Not at the US Capitol
The famed aviator was supposed to arrive in Washington years ago. What happened?

So far, Amelia Earhart is a no-show on Capitol Hill. (Harris & Ewing/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

Explorer Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of the Titanic back in the day, but he can’t find Amelia Earhart. His search this month turned up nothing, unless you count some seaweed and a stray piece of metal. That means it’s back to the drawing board for fans of the missing pilot.

One place they won’t have to look is the U.S. Capitol, even though a statue of Earhart was supposed to be installed in the building two decades ago.

Former Sen. Al Franken giving speech in Oregon in latest move to revamp public image
Minnesota Democrat has said he regrets resigning in 2018 following sexual misconduct allegations

Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., is hosting a speaking event in Portland, Oregon, in October. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Sen. Al Franken is hosting a speaking event in Portland, Oregon, in October where he will share stories of his time in the Senate and as a cast member of  “Saturday Night Live.”

The former Democratic-Farmer-Labor senator from Minnesota has undertaken a series of moves in recent months to reenter the public eye, including launching a podcast and corresponding YouTube channel, creating a website with a collection of his writings and thoughts on the political landscape and now hosting paid speaking events.

GOP senators uneasy with Fed pick on gold, deposit insurance
Questioning a return to the gold standard and eliminating federal deposit insurance

“I'm not convinced we should switch to a gold standard anytime soon,” said Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Republican senators have expressed concerns about Judy Shelton, one of President Donald Trump’s picks for the Federal Reserve Board, over her support for a return to the gold standard and eliminating federal deposit insurance, but, so far, are holding back from publicly opposing her nomination.

Trump tweeted his intention in early July to nominate Shelton and Christopher Waller to the two vacant seats on the seven-member Fed board. Waller, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, is seen by most observers as a conventional pick, but Shelton’s decades-long advocacy for resurrecting the Bretton Woods monetary system has put her at odds with most economists and some Republican senators. The system pegged the dollar to the price of gold and other currencies to the dollar.