Energy & Environment

Congress tries to walk the climate crisis talk
Amid debate on Green New Deal, Democrats are treading lightly in their daily lives

Staffers are aiming to lead by example, by creating workplace cultures where being “green” is a priority. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Staffers working for environmentally minded lawmakers are trying to walk the talk on climate change by taking small personal actions while their bosses call for big-picture policy shifts.

Around Capitol Hill, several aides are aiming to create workplace cultures where being “green” is a priority and holding colleagues accountable is the norm.

Frostpaw still can’t bear climate change
That’s why this gigantic polar bear roams around Washington

Bill Snape dons his Frostpaw outfit in Philadelphia for the 2016 Democratic convention. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

If you see a 7-foot polar bear around D.C., don’t panic. It’s probably just Frostpaw.

“It’s akin to hot yoga,” said Bill Snape, who’s been donning the iconic costume for several years. “Whenever I first put it on, I have these five minutes of claustrophobia and discomfort, and then I just relax and find my breathing pattern and get into this love trance.”

Rep. Dan Kildee interviewed by Alec Baldwin for Flint documentary
Congressman met with actor for an upcoming documentary on the city’s water crisis

Rep. Dan Kildee, right, poses with actor Alec Baldwin on Wednesday in Flint, Michigan. Baldwin interviewed the Michigan Democrat for an upcoming documentary on the Flint water crisis. (Courtesy Rep. Dan Kildee)

Rep. Dan Kildee met with actor and “Saturday Night Live” Donald Trump impersonator Alec Baldwin on Wednesday for an interview in Michigan that will be featured in an upcoming documentary film about the Flint water crisis.

The untitled documentary, which has been in the works since 2015, is being directed by British filmmaker Anthony Baxter, The Detroit News reported. Baxter wanted to tell the story of Flint from the perspective of its residents, instead of politicians and celebrities, Variety reported in 2017. The film does not yet have a release window.

One House Republican joined Democrats to stop Trump’s border wall national emergency
216 members had signed on as of Thursday afternoon

Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, is leading the joint resolution of disapproval. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

About an hour before an announced deadline for original co-sponsors on a Democratic-led effort to disapprove of President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over border security, one Republican had signed on.

At the same time, the measure had already gathered support from 216 members, almost all of them members of the House Democratic caucus.

Sanders first to get non-home state congressional endorsement
Ro Khanna has expressed support for a Sanders presidential run since 2017

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., conducts a news conference in the Capitol to introduce a legislative package that would lower prescription drug prices in the U.S. on Jan. 10, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Bernie Sanders is the first 2020 candidate to pick up an endorsement from a member of Congress who is not from their home state.

Ro Khanna, D-Calif., announced Thursday that he is backing the Vermont independent to be the next president. The endorsement is not a surprising one — Khana tweeted in July of 2017 that Sanders should “absolutely run again in 2020!”

Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan: ‘We can’t green the economy without the power of the free market’
Ohio Democrat continues to position himself for moderate path to party’s presidential nomination

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, struck a conservative tone in interviews in the early primary state of New Hampshire. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

On a tour of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state of New Hampshire, Rep. Tim Ryan emphasized that the Democratic Party should not appear to be “hostile to business” and argued that climate change can be addressed in the private sector.

The Rust Belt Democrat has been positioning himself on the moderate path as he considers a run for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

‘The dumbest f---ing idea I’ve ever heard’ and other highlights of the Senate’s European adventure
Senators have been traveling the globe this week, with many attending conferences in Europe

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., reportedly told the acting Defense secretary that pulling all troops from Syria by April 30 was “the dumbest f---ing idea I’ve heard .” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Over President’s Day weekend, it might have been easier to get a quorum of the U.S. Senate together in Europe than in Washington.

Joe Crowley, Bill Shuster decamp to K Street
Former members setting up at Squire Patton Boggs

Former Reps. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., seen here, and Bill Shuster, R-Pa., are joining promiment K Street firm Squire Patton Boggs. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ex-Reps. Joseph Crowley, the New York Democrat who lost his primary race to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Republican Bill Shuster, who retired after the 115th Congress, are setting up shop on K Street.

The bipartisan duo is joining the global public policy practice at lobbying and law firm Squire Patton Boggs — home of other former lawmakers including House Speaker John A. Boehner and Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux. The firm also had a now-severed strategic affiliation with Michael Cohen, the former attorney to President Donald Trump, who has since pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.

These toxins last ‘forever.’ But the EPA is going slow
PFAS were used for decades to make cookware, microwave popcorn bags, carpeting, rainwear and shoes

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When two officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality showed up at Sandy Wynn-Stelt’s Belmont, Michigan, house in July of 2017 asking to test her private water well, she didn’t anticipate trouble.

So she was stunned when they discovered incredibly high levels of a class of chemicals that are raising serious pollution and health concerns as communities around the country discover their water is contaminated with them.

Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence
Top Democrats who would oversee legislation in the House are reluctant to endorse plan that would remake economy

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have championed the Green New Deal on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution outlining the goals of the Green New Deal capped off its first week of a somewhat messy rollout with mixed reviews, even from typically Democratic strongholds like labor unions.

In the House, the top two Democrats who would oversee any legislation that comes out of the plan have remained reluctant to fully endorse it, stopping at lauding the goals and the enthusiasm behind them. And Republicans quickly branded the Green New Deal as an extreme, socialist plan with unrealistic proposals to eliminate air travel and cows.

Republicans have concerns about Trump’s emergency declaration, too
Congressional Republicans raised concerns, but didn't denounce Trump's radical maneuver

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said in a statement Friday that the president's national emergency declaration defies the Founders. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Some in the president’s party are wringing their hands about how the emergency declaration for a border wall might set a reckless precedent.

While Congressional Republicans have raised concerns, most held off on denouncing the president’s radical maneuver to circumvent Article I of the Constitution and devote federal funds to a border wall without their approval.

The dead earmarks society
Congress gave up pork years ago. Now it could be making a comeback

Steny Hoyer says he’s working to restore congressionally directed spending, with “reforms to ensure transparency and accountability.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From the outside, they looked like a collection of political misfits akin to the characters from “The Breakfast Club.” This peculiar little crew of lobbyists, ethics watchdogs and government spending hawks included the likes of Public Citizen’s Craig Holman and former House member-turned-lobbyist Jim Walsh.

Instead of serving Saturday detention, like the high schoolers of the 1985 hit movie, they spent their meetings nearly a decade ago seeking compromise on one of Congress’ most politically fraught but powerful tools: earmarks. “It was a strange group, an eclectic group,” concedes Holman, whose liberal Public Citizen is best known for taking on K Street, not working with the lobbyists and lawyers in the sector. “We identified what the real problem with earmarks is — and earmarks do pose a serious problem with corruption.”

Two protests in Hart end in Valentine’s Day arrests

Demonstrations for gun control and against a West Virginia factory project resulted in 19 arrests Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Passion was in the air in the Hart Senate Office building on Valentine’s Day. Demonstrations for gun control and against a West Virginia factory project  resulted in 19 arrests Thursday.

A group called Gays Against Guns staged a demonstration in the Hart Atrium in the afternoon. They chanted “Guns are breaking America’s heart,” and “Stronger background checks now” as they lay on the floor enveloped in a massive swath of shiny red fabric.

House progressives work on ‘Medicare-for-all’ as debate heats up
The House bill from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., will have at least 100 initial co-sponsors

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., arrives for a meeting of the House Democratic Caucus in the Capitol on Nov. 15, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House progressives are set to introduce a revised single-payer “Medicare-for-all” bill during the last week of this month, as Republicans sharpen their criticism of the policy and Democratic presidential hopefuls face questions about whether they support it.

The House bill from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., will have at least 100 initial co-sponsors. It comes as Democrats are offering a range of bills to expand health insurance coverage, such as a proposal to allow adults between 50 and 64 to buy into Medicare that was unveiled Wednesday, and presidential candidates refine their positions on what “Medicare-for-all” should mean and the role private insurers would play.

Congress pauses to remember its longest serving member, John Dingell
Dingell eulogized by his former House colleagues: Hoyer, Boehner, Upton and Lewis

Rep. John Lewis attends the funeral mass for former Rep. John Dingell at Holy Trinity Church Feb. 14, 2019, in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In the last 24 hours of his long life, John D. Dingell, 92, was visited by a few old friends and House colleagues. One of them was House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who eulogized Congress’ longest-serving member Thursday, and recalled that even in his final hours, Dingell “was in command.”

“We talked for an hour about what was, what had been and what should be,” Hoyer said at Dingell’s second funeral Thursday.