John Shimkus

Failures of Congress Keep Nuclear Waste Scattered Across the US
Government’s liability is $34 billion and growing as communities wait and wait some more

A sign warns away trespassers near the shuttered Zion Nuclear Power Station along the shore of Lake Michigan. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

In Zion, Illinois, 257 acres of prime lakefront property about 40 miles northwest of Chicago should be at the center of a redevelopment plan to revive a struggling community caught in the aftermath of a closed nuclear plant, says its mayor, Al Hill.

But after decades of federal inaction on a comprehensive strategy to move the nation’s high-level radioactive waste from some 121 sites across the country, Zion and its local officials are coming to the same stark realization as many other communities with shuttered or aging plants: The federal government’s foot-dragging on nuclear waste policy may seem as long as the radioactive materials’ 10,000-year half-life.

Remembering Tim Johnson: Congressional Baseball Game Was the ‘Love of His Life’
Former Oxley staffer died at 59 years old

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, center, sets the lineup during a scrimmage between Republican team members in 2016 with Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., right, and coach Tim Johnson, left. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former staffer and Congressional Baseball Game staple Tim Johnson died Sunday after a decade-long battle with multiple myeloma.

He died at his sister’s house in Leola, Pennsylvania, at 59 years old. He had just celebrated his birthday Oct. 3.

Could Republicans in Competitive Districts Pursue NRCC Top Job?
NRCC head has usually been someone who can travel, fundraise for others

California Rep. Mimi Walters may be interested in chairing the NRCC if the position is open. First, she has to win re-election in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With many Republicans conceding their poor prospects of holding the House next month, attention outside the conference is beginning to turn to who will helm its campaign committee for the next cycle. 

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers, who’s running for a fifth term in a safe Republican seat, is the current chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee. It’s not uncommon for there to be turnover at the end of a cycle, and it’s largely understood Stivers is unlikely to remain in charge should the GOP lose its majority.

Republicans Push Back Against States Seen as Too Pro-Regulation
GOP favors independence by state governments unless they don’t like a state’s decision

Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming and ranking Democrat Tom Carper of Delaware talk before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hears from acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler appeared before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in early August, the energy and environment community was watching.

It was Wheeler’s first appearance since his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, resigned after months of ethical, spending and personnel scandals. Washington was eager to see how Wheeler would right the agency.

Yucca Mountain Halted Again as GOP Aims to Retain Senate
Nevada’s Dean Heller among blockers this time

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., speaks with veterans before the start of this year’s Memorial Day ceremony at the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Supporters of the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada face a familiar fate despite bipartisan momentum to restart progress on the site: Once again, their hopes appear dashed by a Silver State senator.

For years the Senate spoiler was the chamber’s top Democrat, Harry Reid, who departed in 2017. This year Republican Dean Heller played the role, a vocal opponent of the project who faces an uphill re-election bid in a state that went for Hillary Clinton and Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto in 2016.

The Dizzying Life of Midcycle Newbies
For arrivals in the middle of a Congress, it can be tough to hit the ground running

Conor Lamb waits for Speaker Paul D. Ryan to arrive for a mock swearing-in ceremony in April. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In April, just a few days after being sworn in following his stunning special election win in Pennsylvania, Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb strode into the Capitol, hand clutching a coffee cup, as he made his way to the House floor for a vote. But before he could make it inside, a guard abruptly stopped him. Beverages in the chamber, she explained, are strictly forbidden. “You can go through the cloakroom,” she helpfully suggested. Lamb gave a blank stare. “It’s around the corner,” she said, pointing down the hall.

The first few days and weeks for new lawmakers can prove a disorienting adjustment, especially for winners of special elections.

Softball, the Hill’s Social Lubricant
House and Senate softball league players share what they get out of the games

A member of the House softball league runs to second base during the Tax Dodgers versus Immaculate Innings game next to the Washington Monument on Tuesday. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

June in D.C. for congressional staffers means creeping humidity and long working hours. For some it also means reliving their Little League days.

The Senate and House softball leagues are staples of summer on Capitol Hill. Members and staffers say they play for the fun of it, to meet new people, and to foster relationships both within and outside their offices.

Democrats Score Big in 21–5 Baseball Blowout Over GOP
Steve Scalise makes the game’s first out in feel-good moment of the night

Rep. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., is tagged out by Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., to end the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park on Thursday. The Democrats prevailed 21-5. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats continued to show their dominance on the diamond Thursday night with a massive 21–5 win over the Republicans at the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game. 

“More of a football game than a baseball game, but I think both sides gave it their all,” New York Democratic Rep. Joseph Crowley said of the score after the game. 

Cedric Richmond Isn’t Sure How Much Is Left in the Tank
Democrats’ star hoping another pitcher gets elected in midterms

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., is cooled by Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., after running out a triple, then scoring on an error Thursday night at the Congressional Baseball Game. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Much of the Democrat’s 16-run win Thursday night at the 57th annual Congressional Baseball Game can be attributed to pitcher Cedric L. Richmond. But the game’s most dominant player for the last several years isn’t sure how much longer he can dominate.

When asked if he can keep up his streak year after year, the Louisiana Democrat said, “Absolutely not.”

Yucca Mountain’s Lone Ranger Finally Corrals House Attention
Nuclear waste bill passes easily in House, faces roadblocks in Senate

Rep. John Shimkus says his aggressive questioning of Obama-era energy officials reflected his “righteous anger.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Visiting Nevada’s Yucca Mountain in 2011 was like walking through a ghost town, Rep. John Shimkus recalled in an interview this week.

It was the year after the Obama administration surrendered to fervent local opposition and halted work by the Department of Energy to prepare the site to store the nation’s commercial nuclear waste, even though Congress designated it for that purpose in the 1987 Nuclear Waste Policy Act.