Energy & Environment

Illinois Primaries: Ratings Changes in Two Races
Land of Lincoln may help Democrats gain seats

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., narrowly survived a primary challenge Tuesday night.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Illinois primaries are in the books, setting the stage for an important set of congressional elections in November. 

Assuming Democrat Conor Lamb is certified as the winner of the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th District, Democrats still need a net gain of 23 seats to win the House majority. That’s a big enough gap that Democrats, instead of cherry-picking victories around the country, need to pick up a handful of seats in a few places. Illinois might be one of those states.

Most Illinois General Election Match-Ups Set for November
Democrats are targeting four GOP-held seats in Prairie State

Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan will face off against Republican Rep. Rodney Davis in Illinois’ 13th District. (Courtesy Betsy Dirksen Londrigan for Congress/YouTube)

Updated 3/21/18

Tuesday’s Democratic primaries in Illinois are setting the stage for general election match-ups in four Republican-held districts that Democrats are targeting in November.

Trump Touts Putin Get-Together as Senators Warn of Electoral Threat
U.S. president doesn't mention Kremlin's election meddling as possible topic

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he hopes to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin soon to discuss a list of issues, but he did not mention Russia’s election meddling. (\Adam Berry/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he likely will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin soon to discuss a range of issues — but the Kremlin’s efforts to tinker with U.S. elections did not make his list of possible topics, even as Republican and Democratic senators urged vigilance against Russian attacks. 

Trump said that summit likely would occur “in the not too distant future.” Among the topics: an arms race the American president said is “is getting out of control.”

Perry Told to Do More on Grid Cybersecurity After Russian Hacks
‘We don’t need rhetoric at this point, we need action’

Energy Secretary Rick Perry. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Energy Secretary Rick Perry got an earful from senators on both sides of the aisle Tuesday about the importance of a robust cybersecurity policy at the Energy Department in the aftermath of last week’s report of Russian intrusion into key energy infrastructure last year.

The response, Perry told the Energy and Natural Resources Committee at a fiscal 2019 budget hearing Tuesday, will lie in a new breakout office dedicated to cybersecurity with a direct communication pathway to his office.

Illinois Democrats Seek to Chip Away at Republicans’ House Majority
Second-in-nation primaries set stage for targeting GOP seats

Democrats are targeting four GOP-held seats in Illinois, where voters head to the primaries Tuesday. (Composite by Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats are targeting four seats in Illinois, where voters will pick their nominees Tuesday in the second congressional primaries of the year. 

It’s an early test for the party’s ability to nominate candidates it thinks are viable in the general election. Unlike in Texas, which held the cycle’s first primaries two weeks ago, there are no runoffs in Illinois. So a simple plurality would be enough to advance to the November general election. 

Insiders See Democratic House Gains of 30-45 seats
Polling, election results, fundraising tend to point in one direction

President Donald Trump continues to define the landscape for this year’s midterms, which insiders predict will be favorable to Democrats in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Seven and a half months before the midterm elections, the combination of attitudinal and behavioral evidence leads to a single conclusion: The Democrats are very likely to win control of the House in November.

Just as important, Republican and Democratic campaign strategists also agree that an electoral wave has already formed. The attitudinal evidence begins with national polling.

Opinion: Fossil Fuels Aren’t Dead, and North Dakota Is Proof
Investing in coal and natural gas still pays dividends for our communities

Investing in fossil fuel research doesn’t mean throwing good money after bad; it means prosperity for our communities, Hoeven writes. Above, workers watch a gas flare at an oil well site in Williston, North Dakota, in 2013. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images file photo)

One of the most important challenges we face as a nation is reducing our deficit and debt. As a proud fiscal conservative, I understand we must make tough financial decisions; that is why I have worked diligently on measures that will put our nation on a path to a balanced budget.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which formulates the federal government’s spending plans, I know there is a distinct difference between making wise investments and frivolous spending. I believe it is important that we steer our scarce federal dollars toward effective investments like energy research and innovation.

Yemen Vote in Senate, Russia Meddling Add to U.S.-Saudi Summit Intrigue
Senate to vote on Yemen war measure while crown prince is on U.S. soil

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, says the chamber will vote on a resolution calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Yemen this week, the same time Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud will be in the United States. Saudi Arabia has increasingly found itself bogged down in the Yemeni civil war. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Russia’s actions in the Middle East and South Asia are among the most-pressing topics President Donald Trump wants to discuss with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud when they huddle Tuesday, and an upcoming vote in the Senate on Saudi Arabia’s neighbor Yemen could add to the agenda as well. 

Trump and Salman — who has rocketed up the leadership totem pole of Saudi Arabia’s royal family — are scheduled to meet at the White House for a mini-summit. A senior administration official told reporters Monday that along with Russia’s often double-dealing in the region, trying to “push” Saudi leaders to seek a serious political solution to the conflict in Yemen and combating Iran will be atop the agenda.

Trump Formally Endorses Death Penalty for Drug Pushers
'Americans will keep dying' under president's plan, one critic says

President Donald Trump answers questions from the media on March 13 before heading to California to view prototypes of his proposed Southern border wall. He said Monday the barrier would “keep the damn drugs out.” (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

A Southern border wall. Steel and aluminum tariffs for some of the United States’ closest allies. And now, the death penalty for drug traffickers.

President Donald Trump added the latter Monday to his growing list of hardline policy proposals. He delivered a message of getting “tough” in Manchester, New Hampshire, but he acknowledged the American people might not be ready to make some major drug offenses capital crimes.

Perceived Ban on Federal Research for Gun Violence to Remain
Pending omnibus will not reverse the “Dickey Amendment”

Students protested in front of the Capitol last week as part of a national walkout and called on Congress to act on gun violence prevention. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The pending fiscal year 2018 spending bill will not address a perceived ban on the federal government conducting research into gun violence, according to congressional aides.

Whether any other gun control measures are added to the spending bill, expected to be released Monday evening, remains an open question. Aides said no final decision has been made yet whether to include Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn’s legislation related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Opinion: Congress, the CBO Is Not Your Football
As omnibus approaches, lawmakers should resist the temptation to throw the agency around

CBO Director Keith Hall, right, talks with Senate Budget Chairman Michael B. Enzi before an oversight hearing in January. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress finally heads for a vote this week on a long overdue omnibus appropriations package for fiscal 2018 — a year that is nearly halfway over. Fiscal policy debates on taxes and health care have added friction to an already partisan atmosphere.

Caught in the middle of this endless wrangling on Capitol Hill about budget priorities — where to cut, where to spend — is an organization that has come under fire for telling it like it is on the cost of those proposals, the Congressional Budget Office.

Opinion: Putting the ‘N’ in SNAP Should Be a Farm Bill Priority
Program should be strengthened to promote nutrition among SNAP recipients

Among the recommendations of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s SNAP Task Force is continuing incentives for recipients to consume fresh fruits and vegetables (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As Congress begins its deliberations on this year’s farm bill, it’s time to pay more attention to the “N” in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

Launched as a pilot program by President John F. Kennedy and expanded nationwide by President Richard Nixon, the food stamps program — now SNAP — has enjoyed bipartisan support over its nearly 60-year history. From its initial goals of supporting farm incomes and ensuring low-income families did not face hunger, it has evolved into an effective anti-poverty program. That evolution continues today with a focus on nutrition.

An Environmental Film Festival That Aims for a Big Tent
26th annual confab pitches itself as both mission-driven and entertaining

The 26th annual Environmental Film Festival in the nation’s capital is underway, and runs through March 25. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Maryanne G. Culpepper, executive director of the Environmental Film Festival in the nation’s capital, has a long-standing heads-up for filmmakers who arrive at screenings to talk about their movies. 

“People are going to challenge you with questions. Be sure that you really know your stuff, and don’t try to bluff your way through an answer, because they’ll call you on it,” she says. 

Flashback Friday: ‘BTUed’
Here’s a phrase from the past that you might not know the story behind

The term “BTUed” dates back to President Bill Clinton’s first year in office. (Maureen Keating/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Here’s a congressional throwback — a phrase or part of Capitol Hill culture that a younger generation of Hill staffers might not know.

The term (rhymes with rude) dates back to the Clinton administration. It was coined in 1993 during a debate on legislation to reduce the deficit, which included a proposal to tax the heat content — measured in British thermal units, or BTUs — of most forms of energy. 

At the Races: Keystone State Nail-Biter
Our weekly newsletter on congressional campaigns


Mark Your Calendars: The second congressional primaries in the country are in Illinois on Tuesday. Democrats are targeting four GOP-held seats in the state, where EMILY’s List has played an early, influential role backing candidates it thinks will be viable in the general election. But the Prairie State primary that’s received the most attention is actually in a solid Democratic seat. EMILY’s List is involved in this race too (although it took a while for the group to endorse), and it’s quickly become a flashpoint in the fight over the identity of the Democratic Party. On one side is first-time candidate Marie Newman, who’s backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (who carried the 3rd District in 2016), two members of the Illinois delegation (pictured above), New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, SEIU and a coalition of reproductive rights and progressive groups.