Virginia

At the Races: Walking and chewing

By Bridget Bowman, Simone Pathé and Stephanie Akin

Michigan Democratic Rep. Haley Stevens reminded a group of reporters yesterday, “It’s sort of the metaphor of walking and chewing gum at the same time that everybody likes to use around here.”

J. Brett Blanton on track to become next architect of the Capitol
Nominee was most recently deputy vice president for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

J. Brett Blanton, nominee to be architect of the Capitol, right, introduces his family to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., before the start of his confirmation hearing on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Most of J. Brett Blanton’s nomination hearing before the Senate Rules Committee to be the next architect of the Capitol on Thursday was essentially a one-on-one public interview between him and Chairman Roy Blunt, as the remaining 18 members of the committee were absent for the majority of the hearing.

No opposition to Blanton, a Virginia resident, is evident, making him likely to be confirmed as the 12th architect of the Capitol. If confirmed, Blanton said he expects to start leading the agency by mid-January.

After months of delay, DeVos touts limited student loan forgiveness plan
House Democrats press Trump's education chief over relief for defrauded students

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the Capitol in July, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sought to defend her department’s 18-month delay in processing rising numbers of student loan forgiveness claims, saying at a Thursday hearing that officials lacked a proper process to review them.

Roughly 240,000 claims remain outstanding as DeVos has sought to change the department’s process to allow students who have been defrauded by colleges to have their federal student loans canceled.

These Democrats helped launch the impeachment inquiry. What’s their next move?
Pelosi called for probe after op-ed by seven freshmen with national security backgrounds

From left, Reps. Abigail Spanberger, Chrissy Houlahan and Elissa Slotkin face Mikie Sherrill at a meeting in September. The four among a group of freshman Democrats who called for an impeachment inquiry that month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two months ago, seven freshman Democrats in the House published an op-ed column in The Washington Post that helped launch the impeachment inquiry. Now that the inquiry’s over, the freshmen are not saying what they will do next.

The op-ed made clear the writers, who all have national security backgrounds, thought it would be “an impeachable offense” if reports were true that President Donald Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival while withholding aid to the country.

Amid impeachment saga, a kitchen sink of legislative dealing
Sen. Alexander: ‘There’s more to life than judges and impeachment’

Sen. Lamar Alexander says, “There’s more to life than judges and impeachment.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The holiday rush on Capitol Hill is in full swing, and the bipartisan legislative lethargy is showing signs of easing even as the House debates articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

Senate and House negotiators are still trying to reach an agreement on a bundle of spending bills, but there has been a relative abundance of other bipartisan deal-making and even actual legislation passing in the Senate.

Study shows growing ocean damage as protection bills languish
Finds most ocean acidification, which harms marine life and coastal economies, has been triggered by 88 companies, including Exxon Mobil

A slide shows growing acidification of the world’s oceans during a presentation of data at a climate conference in Spain earlier this month.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

As lawmakers push legislation to protect the nation’s coastal waters, scientists are placing much of the blame for degrading ocean conditions on emissions from large energy companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., which was cleared Tuesday in a long-running climate court case.

A study published Wednesday in the scientific journal Environmental Research Letters found that carbon emissions from the largest energy and cement companies are responsible for more than half of a damaging side effect: increasing acidity in the planet’s oceans, which harms marine life and coastal economies.

With scores to settle, Trump slams ‘crooked bastard’ Schiff over impeachment
President calls abuse of power, obstructing Congress articles ‘impeachment lite’

President Donald Trump holds an umbrella as he speaks to journalists before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Tuesday. He was headed to a campaign  rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — President Donald Trump went to Hershey, Pennsylvania, with a few scores to settle hours after House Democrats unveiled two articles of impeachment they appear poised to pass next week.

For more than an hour, Trump railed against House Intelligence Chairman Adam B. Schiff and Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a throng of supporters inside the Giant Center booed, cheered and laughed — depending on the insult of the moment. He dubbed Schiff a “dishonest guy” and a “crooked bastard” and claimed the speaker has “absolutely no control” over a caucus that has lurched dramatically to the left.

Democrats ‘got completely rolled’ in NDAA talks, critics say
Litany of progressive provisions fails to make conference committee report

Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan is calling for a national conversation on repeated increases to defense spending. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The final defense authorization measure for the current fiscal year represents a victory for Republicans.

That’s the word from a large number of angry Democrats in Congress, their supporters and, more discreetly, from many Republicans.

Florida lawmakers seek assurance offshore drilling plan is dead
Scott and Rubio try to leverage Trump's nominee as deputy Interior secretary to extract a no-drilling commitment from administration

Scott and others in the Florida delegation are seeking assurances that the Trump Administration won’t revive a proposal to allow oil and gas drilling off their state’s coasts. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Rick Scott plans to meet this week with Katharine MacGregor, who is nominated to become Interior deputy secretary, as his fellow Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has a hold on her nomination, all to seek assurances that the Trump administration won’t move to allow oil and gas drilling off their state’s coasts.

Although the Interior Department said it was suspending its offshore drilling plan after widespread outcry, including from a bipartisan coalition of Florida lawmakers, Scott and Rubio’s actions show the delegation is not leaving anything to chance.

McConnell warns of need for cooperation to complete Christmas wish list
There already may not be enough time if senators object to defense policy, spending measures

There is a backlog of legislation to move before Christmas. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The clock is ticking toward Christmas, and in one of the longest-lasting holiday traditions, a Senate majority leader is warning that without bipartisan cooperation there won’t be enough time to get all the work done before the holidays.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell opened Tuesday’s session with the 2019 version of the regular holiday warning.