Energy & Environment

At the Races: He’s Off the Trail
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns

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 and Bridget Bowman

Defense Bills Seek to Protect U.S. Energy at Base in Germany
Critics slam return of ‘zombie earmark’ as Bacon says proposal will reduce reliance on Russian gas

Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., says he wants to limit American dependence on Russian gas, but critics call his coal proposal a wasteful earmark. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Hatch Seeks Quick House Action to Improve Suicide Prevention Hotline
Legislation passed Senate last November

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch has renewed his push to improve a hotline designed to help prevent suicides. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After recent high-profile suicides, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is pushing for the House to expedite work on a bipartisan bill to improve the national suicide prevention hotline.

“Our bill requires the FCC to recommend an easy-to-remember, three-digit number for the national suicide prevention hotline. I believe that by making the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline system more user-friendly and accessible, we can save thousands of lives by helping people find the help they need when they need it most,” the Utah Republican said in a floor speech. “The Senate passed our bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in November. Now it’s time for the House to do its part.”

How Mark Sanford Proudly Failed His Loyalty Test
No regrets from second House Republican ousted by someone claiming stronger Trump allegiance

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., spent heavily but lost narrowly Tuesday in the Republican primary in South Carolina’s coastal low country to a state legislator who aligned closely with President Donald Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Today’s Congress deserves its reputation for uniformity in the ranks. Gender and ethnicity aside, the place is overrun with members priding themselves on their message discipline, policymaking tunnel vision and personal lives scrubbed and shielded from public view. And for the Republicans, of course, unflinching loyalty to President Donald Trump is now the core of the homogenized brand.

So is Hill survival even possible anymore for a member capable of thoughtful departures from his partisan talking points, open to ideological subtlety, with a home life that’s been a national melodrama — and who on top of all that has called out the president on more than one occasion?

Authorized Flood Projects Left High and Dry on Funding
Desperate cities fear the next floods as Congress dawdles

Residents look down a flooded street in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in June 2008. The city is still recovering from some of its worst flooding on record. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Ten years ago this month, the Cedar River overflowed into Cedar Rapids, Iowa, destroying a wide swath of the city’s downtown and residential neighborhoods.

The flooding caused $5.4 billion in property damage, according to the city. It affected more than 1,000 blocks of homes and businesses, City Hall, the county courthouse and hundreds of other buildings.

Nevada Primaries Set Up GOP House Targets
Horsford, Hardy set up rematch in 4th District

Former Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford won the Democratic primary for the 4th District on Tuesday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans are largely on defense this election cycle, but they’re targeting two open seats in Nevada, where voters selected their general election candidates Tuesday night.

In the 4th District, two former one-term seat holders — Democrat Steven Horsford and Republican Cresent Hardy — easily won their respective primaries. In the 3rd District, perennial GOP candidate Danny Tarkanian and Democrat Susie Lee advanced to what is also expected to be a competitive fall race.

Wexton Wins Democratic Nod to Take On Comstock in Virginia’s 10th
Democrat Abigail Spanberger will face off against Rep. Brat in 7th District

Virginia Democrat Jennifer Wexton, flanked by Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, left, and Sen. Tim Kaine, speaks at her 10th District primary night party at O'Faolin’s Irish Pub in Sterling, Va., on Tuesday. She will next face Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The fall matchup in one of this year’s most competitive House races is now set with state Sen. Jennifer Wexton clinching the Democratic nomination in Virginia’s 10th District on Tuesday night.

Wexton will face Republican incumbent Barbara Comstock, who’s running for a third term in a Toss-up race.

House Prepares for Week of Action on Opioid Bills
‘Collectively these bills do not go far enough’

Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., participates in the House Democrats’ news conference on health care reform in the Capitol on Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House will begin a voting marathon Tuesday on 34 bills designed to address the opioid epidemic. While most are not likely to be contentious, two have previously stirred controversy.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., reserved about a week and a half of floor time to discuss opioid legislation. Additional bills are likely to be considered next week, such as four bill packages the House Ways and Means Committee approved with bipartisan support.

Races to Watch in This Tuesday’s Primaries
Voters in five states head to the polls

South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford faces a GOP primary challenge that’s prompted him to spend money this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Voters in five states head to the polls Tuesday, with most of the action in House primaries.

Republican Rep. Mark Sanford is facing a party challenge for his South Carolina seat. Nominees will be chosen in a half-dozen other competitive House races. And a new voting process will be tested in Maine.

Senators Could Use Defense Bill to Push Back on Russia
Bipartisan group files amendments seeking to counter Kremlin election interference

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is among the senators preparing amendments to the defense authorization bill that seek to push back on Russian election interference. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senators could find themselves debating election security this week, including how to counter potential efforts by Russia to mess with this year’s midterms.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle want to use the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill as a venue for amendments related to both protection and response.

Two Former Lawmakers Aim for Rematch in Nevada’s 4th District
First hurdle will be Tuesday’s primaries

Former GOP Rep. Cresent Hardy is running again in Nevada’s 4th District. (D.A. Banks/CQ Roll Call file photo).

Nevada’s 4th District could host a rematch between two former one-term members of Congress. And both know what it’s like to lose.

Democrat Steven Horsford and Republican Cresent Hardy are considered the front-runners in their respective primary races Tuesday. Should they win, the general election would be a rematch of 2014, when Hardy ousted Horsford in a surprise only to lose the seat two years later.

Opinion: Veterans Helping Veterans — Why Peer Support Should Be Expanded
A familiar face makes a world of difference in caring for veterans

A Veterans Affairs hospital in Phoenix. The department’s peer specialists bring humanity to the care veterans receive, Peters and Coffman write. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images file photo)

“You mean it gets better?” a female veteran asks Olga, a certified peer specialist working at the Department of Veterans Affairs. For the last decade, Olga has served as an integral part of the VA’s peer specialist program in Dallas. After going through the dizzying process herself as an Army veteran, she wondered how other veterans experiencing severe mental health episodes were managing to get the care they needed.

Now, Olga spends her time connecting with other veterans to help steer them through the VA’s web of mental health care services. She is part of a workforce of more than 1,100 peer specialists who help veterans in department facilities across the country, including 25 VA primary care sites. This program provides veterans with a trusted guide to navigate the system: a fellow veteran who has gone through the same journey to wellness. Peer specialists supplement traditional care practices, such as counseling or group therapy, and work in patient-aligned care teams to meet the needs of each veteran.

Opinion: It’s the Summer of No Love for American Tourism
The economy is part of the immigration debate, whether we like it or not

America’s tourism industry has taken a hit in the Trump era, and that could spell trouble for the economy, Megan and Brown write. Above, travelers arrive at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport in April. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Graduation season is wrapping up and summer vacation season is just beginning, rites of passage enjoyed by Americans and visitors alike. Foreign tourists flock to America’s beaches, parks and cities, and students travel from all over the world to study in our world-class universities. But data suggests this summer may bring fewer of both.

Tourists and students account for roughly 80 percent of total non-immigrant visas issued by the U.S. each year. They spur demand for goods and services, which pads economic growth and helps to power the tourism industry and higher education system.

Opinion: No News Is Bad News — The Looming Social Security Crisis
Don’t be fooled by the absence of alarming headlines

Demonstrators in Chicago in 2011 rally against cuts to federal safety net programs. Social Security is facing severe challenges that policymakers must address soon, Fichtner writes. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The Social Security crisis is not only real, it is already well upon us.

That may not have been obvious to everyone from the annual report issued by the program’s trustees last week. With neither a dire nor stellar update, the report inspired little passion. In fact, many might have mistaken the minor changes to mean that Social Security’s finances are now stable. But don’t be fooled: The absence of alarming headlines is anything but good news.

House Passes ‘Minibus’ Over Democratic Objections
Sen. Shelby: ‘The sooner the better’

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., says he hopes the Senate considers appropriations measures sooner than later. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House passed a roughly $147 billion three-bill fiscal 2019 spending package on a partisan 235-179 vote Friday, overcoming Democratic objections to environmental policy riders and funding priorities in the GOP-drafted Energy-Water title.

The “minibus,” which also carries the Military Construction-VA and Legislative Branch measures, is the first of what House GOP leaders expect to be a series of three-bill packages to try to expedite passage of at least a few of the 12 annual spending bills before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.