Energy & Environment

Vernon Ehlers, Former Longtime Michigan Congressman, Dies at 83
Ehlers was known as champion of the Great Lakes and science education

As a congressman from Michigan, Vernon Ehlers used his physics background to advance environmental and STEM legislation for nearly two decades. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The first research physicist ever elected to Congress, Vernon J. Ehlers was known for his legislative work to bolster scientific research and education, raise fuel economy standards, and protect clean air and water.

Ehlers, who represented Western Michigan in Congress for nearly two decades, died Tuesday at the age of 83. His death was confirmed by the Zaagman Memorial Chapel in Grand Rapids, which did not immediately indicate the cause of death, The Detroit News reported.

Opinion: ‘Medicare for All’ Is the New ‘Repeal and Replace’
Why Democrats may be in danger of repeating the GOP’s mistake

The fine print on “Medicare for All” is much more complex than some Democrats make it out to be, Murphy writes. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

Even before the horrible events in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, President Donald Trump was having a bad August.

He had already single-handedly escalated tensions with North Korea to the point that a nuclear strike suddenly seemed like a possibility for the first time in many Americans’ lifetimes.

DCCC Raises More Than $6 Million in July
Committee’s fundraising outpaces July 2015

New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján chairs the DCCC, which said it has received contributions from more than 200,000 first-time donors so far this year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised more than $6 million in July, roughly $2 million more than it did in July 2015.

The campaign arm of House Democrats raked in $6.26 in July, with 40 percent of donations coming from online contributions, according to figures provided exclusively to Roll Call.

Health Care Backlash With a Side of Charlottesville Outrage at GOP Town Halls
Constituents ask senators to push Trump to fire Bannon, other aides

Sen. Cory Gardner said he wouldn't ask President Donald Trump to fire Steve Bannon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Coloradans pressed Sen. Cory Gardner on health care during the Republican’s first solo, in-person town hall in more than a year.

Gardner wasn’t the only Republican senator who faced angry constituents this week, as Sen. Johnny Isakson held a contentious town hall in Georgia on Monday. The two Republicans heard a similar tune from their respective crowds, as people voiced concerns over healthcare.

Word on the Hill: Murphy Walks Again
Updates from the OOC, LOC and Historical Society

Connecticut Sen. Christopher S. Murphy is taking questions as he walks across the Nutmeg State. (Courtesy Murphy via Snapchat)

Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., is making his way across the Nutmeg State on foot … again.

Today is Day Three of the walk. On Monday, he walked from Willimantic to Portland, where he held an evening town hall.

‘Right to Try’ Bill Could Face Slower Action in House
Changes to measure possible during Energy and Commerce markup

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson’s "Right to Try" legislation faces an uncertain future in the House. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Senate-passed bill intended to help dying patients access experimental drugs will likely face lengthier deliberations in the House. While the Senate fast-tracked the bill on Aug. 3, the House will likely subject it to a hearing and markup before bringing it up to a vote, according to congressional aides and a lobbyist.

The bill would reduce some of the paperwork involved in getting access to experimental treatments, and would offer protections to the drug companies who choose to make drugs available outside of a clinical trial. It’s the federal version of “Right to Try” measures that have been passed in 37 states with support from libertarian-leaning Republicans who say the Food and Drug Administration prevents dying patients from getting treatments.

Lobbyists Push GOP to Repeal Obamacare Fees in Tax Overhaul
Trade group is launching digital ad buys in key states

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin G. Hatch, seen here with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow wants to look at a possible repeal of the 2010 health care law's taxes as part of a larger tax package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Republican effort to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law may have stalled, but lobbyists are pushing the GOP to continue to target the provisions the industry most despises: the law’s taxes.

House and Senate Republicans hope to push forward on a tax overhaul when Congress returns in September, an item they previously delayed in favor of health care. Repealing the 2010 health care law and its corresponding taxes would have helped simplify the GOP’s upcoming work, but those hopes were deflated when the Senate did not pass a repeal bill last month.

How the Health Care Industry Has Been Giving to Congress
FEC reports show millions of dollars spent already this year

Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., conducts the confirmation hearing for Alex Acosta, nominee for Secretary of Labor, in the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions in Dirksen Building, March 22, 2017. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BY SEAN MCMINN AND RYAN KELLY

As health care came to the forefront this year in Washington, groups focused on the issue continued using their political action committees to attempt to influence the debate.

Murkowski and Zinke Mend Fences Over Beers
Comes after reports that Interior secretary threatened Alaska senator over health care vote

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke takes a selfie with Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski sharing a Alaskan craft beer. (Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke via Twitter)

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski met to mend fences over beers to settle their feud over the senator’s vote on the Republican health care bill.

Zinke tweeted a photo of himself and the Alaska Republican holding what appears to be a local pale ale.

Defense to Get Historically High Share of Research Budget
Congress likely to resist cuts to nondefense R&D programs

The Pentagon and related security agencies would see big boosts in research and development funding under the proposed fiscal 2018 budget from the administration . (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Pentagon and other security agencies’ outsize consumption of federal research money would grow further under Republican plans, while nondefense research spending would drop, sometimes dramatically, a new congressional report shows.

The Defense Department’s research and development budget would consume 56 percent of the federal R&D total in President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal, according to the Congressional Research Service report. That’s an 18 percent increase above the fiscal 2016 enacted level. When military research at the National Nuclear Security Administration and other agencies is included, the defense share of the federal research budget is closer to 61 percent.

Word on the Hill: From Little League World Series to Congress
Solar talk and Stevie Wonder tickets

Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis bats during a Little League baseball game in 1991. (Courtesy DeSantis’ office)

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., passed along some veteran advice for a Florida Little League baseball team, which is competing for a regional title this weekend and a chance to play in the Little League World Series.

The Palm Beach Post asked DeSantis, who played in the Little League World Series in 1991, for his thoughts. 

Pittenger Challenger Who Lost by 134 Votes Wants Rematch
Pastor Mark Harris enters Republican primary against three-term incumbent

In an ad announcing he’s running again against Rep. Robert Pittenger, Mark Harris says the time for career politicians is over. (Red Dome via YouTube)

After losing the 2016 Republican primary by 134 votes in a recount against incumbent Rep. Robert Pittenger, a Baptist pastor is ready for another run.

Mark Harris, who recently resigned after 12 years as first pastor of First Baptist Charlotte, is mounting another bid for North Carolina’s 9th District in 2018, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. 

Lobbying After Congress Declines in Popularity
Roll Call looks at what alums of the 114th Congress are up to

Clockwise from top left: former Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, former Reps. Janice Hahn of California and Candice S. Miller of Michigan, former Sens. Barbara Boxer of California, Mark S. Kirk of Illinois, Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland and David Vitter of Louisiana, former Rep. Steve Israel of New York, former House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and former Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina. (Bill Clark and Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photos)

By KYLE STEWART and GRIFFIN CONNOLLY

Whether it was the ascension of Donald Trump, the endless vitriol of today’s politics or other factors, former members of the 114th Congress departed Washington in droves, a marked difference from previous Congresses when the most popular destinations for former members were D.C. lobbying firms.

GOP Unified Control Still Means Divided Congress
Flameout of health care reveals dissension, but some accomplishments obscured

Neil Gorsuch's confirmation stands out as a big achievement for the GOP Congress. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The demise of the Republican effort to repeal the 2010 health care law put an exclamation point on what has become obvious in Washington: The GOP, for all its enthusiasm following its election win last year, is too riven with dissension to meet ambitious goals it set out for itself.

And President Donald Trump seems to have oversold his skills as a deal-maker.

Word on the Hill: Kushner Meets Congressional Interns
Dog Days of Summer Yappy Hour

Jared Kushner, the President’ Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, leaves the Hart Senate Office Building after his interview with the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee staff on Monday, July 24. (By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

First son-in-law Jared Kushner is scheduled to speak to interns on Capitol Hill today at 3 p.m. as part of the House Administration Committee and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration’s Intern Lecture Series.

It was originally scheduled for July 28 and then moved to today. The White House senior adviser’s lecture will take place in the Capitol Visitor Center’s Congressional Auditorium.