Peter Welch

Nuclear Plants Go Belly Up in Democratic Districts. Then What?
Most declining plants are in blue areas, and Congress is taking notice

There wasn’t much celebration when the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant shut its doors — just worry over how to decommission. (Michael Springer/Getty Images file photo)

In Vermont, the relationship between the town of Vernon and its nuclear power plant, known as the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station, had always been contentious.

From 1970s-era antinuclear protests to more recent legal battles over a proposal to extend the plant’s license, Vermont residents and their state legislature kept a skeptical eye on the power source, which at one point provided some 70 percent of the state’s electricity.

Drug Prices Could Become a Divisive Issue for Democrats
Internal tensions over Big Pharma could be on full display next Congress

Divisions among Democrats over the pharmaceutical industry could hurt their party’s efforts to address high drug costs if they win a majority next year. (Courtesy iStock)

Democrats are making the cost of prescription drugs a pillar of the party’s health care agenda in the midterms, but if they win a majority for the 116th Congress, the party will have to grapple with internal divisions over the issue that might be magnified next year.

This campaign season has been notable for candidates pushing the party to reject corporate influence. For emboldened progressive Democrats, the party’s current plans might not be enough. Their views compete with those of new candidates from politically moderate areas with a big pharmaceutical industry presence that might be more inclined to join with longtime incumbents who sympathize more with the industry’s perspective.

Dems Have Walked Out Over Guns, and Now Kavanaugh
Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono aren’t the only ones to make a dramatic exit in the Trump era

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and a handful of other Democrats headed for the exits Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As a group of Democrats strode out of the hearing room Friday morning, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley wasn’t pleased.

“You folks who are photographers know that you’re supposed to sit down,” he said over the clicking cameras.

New Light on Dark Money Found in Study From Bipartisan Group
Explosion of secret donations to campaigns largely comes from handful of insider groups

Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fl., and Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., hold a news conference to announce efforts to crack down on out-of-control campaign spending. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The explosion of so-called “dark money” in political campaigns can be largely traced to spending from 15 groups, according to a study released Wednesday by a non-partisan watchdog group.

The analysis by Issue One is the first attempt to catalog the influential and secretive spending by labor unions, corporations, mega-donors and other special interest groups flooding the American political system in the years since the landmark 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. Such a task is notoriously difficult because the organizations behind such spending are not legally required to disclose the sources of their money.

Staffer Comes up Short on ‘Jeopardy!’
Welch aide Isaac Loeb came prepared for D.C. and politics questions, but he got none

Isaac Loeb, a legislative aide for Vermont Democratic Rep. Peter Welch, tried twice before to be selected for “Jeopardy.” (Courtesy of Rep. Peter Welch's office)

Isaac Loeb, a Capitol Hill staffer, went on “Jeopardy!” armed for political and government questions but didn’t get a one.

“They love asking questions about D.C.,” said Loeb, 28. a legislative assistant for Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt. “They’ll have ones about the Smithsonian or landmarks of D.C. but there weren’t any of those. I had access to all the museums, which is a wealth of ‘Jeopardy!’ knowledge. The American History Museum was pretty clutch in that regard.”

Do-Nothing Amendments Give Lawmakers Bragging Opportunity About Successes
Provisions have no real-world impact

Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz., is among the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents this midterm cycle. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House adopted amendments on a two-bill spending package last week purporting to redirect sums ranging from $100,000 to study the impact of a mineral found to cause cracking in concrete home foundations, to $36 million for “public safety and justice facility construction” at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

There’s just one catch: the provisions simply give the illusion of moving money around — with no real-world impact on agency funding priorities. The net financial impact of all 14 such amendments considered during debate on the $58.7 billion Interior-Environment and Financial Services measure — out of 87 total floor amendments on the bill — was precisely zero.

Hospital Drug Discount Program Under Lawmakers’ Microscope
House panel to examine legislation Wednesday

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar was to address a conference of hospitals participating in a drug discount program facing Congressional scrutiny. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A House panel that has been scrutinizing hospitals’ use of a drug discount program will examine on Wednesday pieces of legislation that stem from members’ concerns over the discounts.

The Energy and Commerce Committee’s oversight panel has had two hearings in the past year on the program, known as 340B. The committee has requested information from hospitals that participate and in January published a report outlining ways the drug discount program could be better run.

Trump Targets Drug Pricing in Trade Agreements
‘It’s unfair, it’s ridiculous and it’s not going to happen any longer’

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar testifies during a Ways and Means Committee hearing on the FY2019 budget for HHS in Longworth Building on February 14, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump has instructed trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer to grant the drug industry’s wish of making pharmaceutical prices a “top priority” in negotiations with other countries.

Trump revealed the instruction during a Friday announcement unveiling the administration’s overall strategy for lowering drug costs.

House Democrats Punt on Leadership Question After Anti-Pelosi Candidate Wins
Caucus members say individual candidates should decide whether to run on calls for a leadership change

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., left, hosts a reception in honor of Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, in the Capitol on Wednesday. The Democrats’ most likely new member ran amid promises to not support her as caucus leader. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After four straight elections falling short of the majority, House Democrats have had their fair share of discussions about their caucus leadership and whether it’s time for a change. But with momentum on their side in the current cycle, they’re not yet ready to revisit those talks — even after the strong special election performance of a Democratic candidate who pledged not to support Nancy Pelosi in another bid for Democratic leader.

Democrat Conor Lamb led Republican Rick Saccone in Pennsylvania’s 18th District special election, with all precincts reporting but the final outcome still undetermined at press time. Lamb’s expected victory is significant in a district President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points in 2016, although Republicans downplayed the chances of Democrats replicating that success in similar districts.

Opinion: Trump’s Political Retribution Threatens Palestinian Lives and Israeli Security
We can’t allow bruised egos to endanger our nation’s interests

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip carry bags of provisions after unloading them from a truck at an UNRWA distribution center in 2004. (Ahmad Khateib/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration’s decision to withhold funding from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, abandons millions of vulnerable refugees, jeopardizes Israel’s security and undermines the credibility and interests of the United States in the Middle East.

Since 1949, UNRWA has provided health care, education, stable housing and other vital services to Palestinians displaced by conflict who live in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Palestinian territories. While the United Nations, the European Union and other governmental and private-sector partners also fund UNRWA, the United States has historically been the largest single contributor.