environment

EPA Watchdog to Step Down as Scott Pruitt Probes Continue
Arthur Elkins had contradicted the former administrator’s account of his security detail

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt testifies during a hearing in May. The inspector general who led multiple investigations of his spending habits is retiring this fall. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The EPA’s inspector general, who led multiple investigations into former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending and management practices at the agency, will leave in October, his office announced Tuesday.

Arthur A. Elkins Jr., who has been EPA inspector general since 2010, said in a news release that he will retire on Oct. 12, but did not indicate whether his departure is related to issues at the agency. Before becoming inspector general, Elkins worked as associate general counsel in the EPA’s Office of General Counsel.

Capitol Ink | Washington Paper Towel Monument

Capitol Ink | EPA Toaster Oven

Capitol Ink | Rain Delay

Road Ahead: Remembering McCain, and Confirming Trump Nominations
Senate hearing agenda relatively light for last week of August

Sen. James Lankford has authored a proposal that would change debate time for nominations. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When senators left Washington last Thursday, they didn’t expect to be in mourning when they returned.

But the death of Sen. John McCain Saturday and the period of remembrance and celebration that will consume this week could have short-term repercussions for the rest of the agenda. Some senators may well make the trip to Arizona for a memorial service Thursday.

How Joe Barton Struck Out
Retiring Texas Republican was thwarted by his own political instincts

Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, faces retirement after a sex scandal. His career in Washington had already reached its peak. (CQ Roll Call)

Leadership be damned, Rep. Joe L. Barton thought. He knew he was right, and as soon as he was convinced of that, hardly anything in the world could move him.

Just a few months into his first term, the Texas Republican was angling for something between protest and revolution. House Democrats had voted to declare themselves the winner of a contested Indiana House race — in Republicans’ eyes, a theft. While his own party’s leadership urged restraint, Barton fumed.

Richard Burr Finds Himself Objectionable
North Carolina senator finds himself having to object to his own request for action

Sen. Richard Burr objected to his own request on the floor Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Richard Burr faced an internal struggle Thursday on the Senate floor for all to see. Burr requested action on a bill, with the expectation one of his colleagues would object. But when the presiding officer asked if there were any objections, the North Carolina Republican was stuck, and had to object to his own request.

“I reluctantly object,” said Burr.

She Has Congress’ Loneliest Job
Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner appeals to colleagues as anniversary of Hurricane Maria approaches

Jenniffer González-Colón, here at an October 2017 news conference on disaster funding, is Puerto Rico’s first female resident commissioner. And that’s not the only reason she stands out in Congress. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In Congress, you have to know your place. Alliances matter, and traditions are as tough as weeds.

Not that Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s lone voice in Washington, needs reminding.

Trump Reiterates Falsehood About California Water Diversions
California officials not sure what to make of presidential claims

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn to Marine One on their way to Joint Base Andrews on July 27. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump on Monday again falsely stated that the California government is diverting river water into the Pacific Ocean that could be used to fight forest fires, but he also signaled he will fast-track federal help.

For the second consecutive day, the president took to Twitter to contend Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is sending water from “the North” into the Pacific Ocean. Trump contended Monday that water could be used for “fires, farming and everything else.”

Dems Rip Page From GOP Playbook to Fight Trump’s Pollution Rollback
Markey: ‘We’ll use every tool available to block the Trump administration’s U-turn on fuel efficiency’

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says “Californians have a right to breathe clean air, and we’re not giving that up to President Trump without a fight.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats opposed to the Trump administration’s proposal to freeze fuel efficiency standards have limited options to fight back in the halls and floor of Congress, but the one option they do have comes straight from the GOP deregulatory playbook.

Once finalized, Democrats, led by top members on the Environment and Public Works Committee, plan to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution to overturn the Trump administration’s fuel efficiency strategy, Sen. Edward J. Markey told reporters on a phone conference in response to the administration’s proposal Thursday.