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Federal money hasn’t reached disaster victims
Long after hurricanes, red tape leaves relief aid unspent

A man rides a bike in Loiza, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria in 2017. The island’s nearly $20 billion in aid from a Department of Housing and Urban Development program has been mired in a clunky bureaucratic process. (Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images file photo)

It’s been more than a year and a half since Hurricane Maria laid waste to Puerto Rico in September 2017, killing roughly 3,000 people and causing an estimated $90 billion in damages.

But federal money for any long-term rebuilding has yet to reach those in need in the U.S. territory, which was also battered by Hurricane Irma that same month.

Trump, Biden and the battle for Pennsylvania
‘Biden deserted you,‘ president roars in Montoursville rally, as former veep sets up shop in Philly

Former Vice President Joe Biden removes his jacket at the Eakins Oval in Philadelphia on Saturday as he formally kicks off his 2020 White House bid. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Three times President Donald Trump mentioned former Vice President and Pennsylvania native Joe Biden, the 2020 Democratic front-runner, and three times his crowd of loyalists booed at a rally Monday night in Lycoming County. But it is swing voter-rich places, like the one here in Lehigh County, two hours to the southeast, that will help determine who is president in January 2021.

Biden clearly has attracted the president’s attention since he jumped into his party’s race to take on Trump in the general election.

‘Inconvenient Truth’ producer tackles climate change again — just without saying it
The romance of farm life clashes with environmental reality in Laurie David’s latest project, ‘The Biggest Little Farm’

Laurie David’s latest project has less Al Gore, more oinking pigs. (Elissa Federoff/NEON)

Rising at dawn to milk the cows. Watching pigs root around in dirt. Listening to cute baby goats bleating while they munch on grass. Grabbing a shotgun to dispose of the coyotes terrorizing your chicken coop. Yes, farming can be romantic, but the reality of creating your own complex, self-sustaining ecosystem is not.

That’s the closest thing to myth-busting you’ll get from “The Biggest Little Farm,” the latest project from producer Laurie David. Thirteen years ago, she gave us “An Inconvenient Truth,” with its flow charts and heavy-handed appeals to science. The nasal intonations of former Vice President Al Gore were the righteous cherry on top.

Senate, House start to chip away at ‘kiddie tax’ hike
Increase for low-income children was an unintended consequence of 2017 tax overhaul

Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., is leading the Senate effort to repeal the “kiddie tax” increase for military survivors in Gold Star families. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Both chambers are moving to reverse tax law changes that unintentionally subjected investment earnings of low-income children to the same tax rates paid by wealthier households.

The House, which under the Constitution must originate revenue bills, plans to act later this week on a broader retirement savings bill that would eliminate the full set of changes to the so-called kiddie tax made by Republicans in the 2017 tax overhaul.

Interior Department policy let political appointees review FOIA requests
So-called awareness review process could expose department to legal action

A public records request for emails between a National Park Service official and Lolita Zinke, above, wife of former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was originally estimated to potentially yield 96 pages of communication. It ended up being 16 pages long after being put through the awareness review process.  (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The Interior Department has for about a year allowed political appointees to weigh in on which federal records are released to the public, creating delays that could violate open records law and expose the department to legal action.

“If political officials are becoming involved in the process and as a result of that causes the agency to not comply with its obligations” under the Freedom of Information Act, “that is a serious problem,” said Adam Marshall, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press.

Republican Fred Keller wins Pennsylvania special election
State lawmaker was heavily favored given 12th District’s GOP lean

Pennsylvania state Rep. Fred Keller, who won Tuesday’s special election in the 12th District, joined President Donald Trump onstage at a rally Monday in Montoursville. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A former factory manager who hasn’t gone to college is now headed to Congress.

Republican state Rep. Fred Keller easily defeated Democrat Marc Friedenberg in a special election Tuesday in Pennsylvania’s 12th District. With 48 percent of precincts reporting, Keller led the Penn State professor, 72 percent to 28 percent, according to The Associated Press.

White House, Hill leaders unable to reach spending deal Tuesday
“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer agree that spending caps and debt limit legislation will go on the same bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Negotiators were unable to reach an agreement on spending caps and the debt limit Tuesday, hours after a two-year deal seemed possible.

“Deals like this take time,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said after leaving an afternoon meeting between congressional leaders and administration officials.

After Iran briefings, Democrats in Congress want to know more, sooner
Republicans generally on board with Trump administration moves

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was among the Trump administration officials briefing lawmakers on Iran on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Intelligence briefings on U.S. relations with Iran Tuesday left Democrats in both the Senate and the House unsure of what the Trump administration’s objectives are following recent heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, briefed lawmakers on their strategic campaign to push back against what he called “Iran’s malign activity” and described the country as participating in 40 years of terrorist activity.

Hope Hicks, Ann Donaldson the latest ex-Trump officials to get subpoenas

Hope Hicks, former communications director for President Donald Trump, was subpoenaed by the House Judiciary Committee, along with Ann Donaldson, a former aide for Don McGahn. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks and Ann Donaldson, the former chief of staff for ex-White House Counsel Don McGahn, were issued subpoenas Tuesday to provide documents and testimony to the House Judiciary Committee for its probe into corruption and obstruction by President Donald Trump and his associates.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., sent Hicks and Donaldson document requests on March 4, but the requested materials were never furnished.

Marijuana legalization goes mainstream with first-ever forum in Capitol complex
Event highlights growing bipartisan support for banking, farming, medical and social justice bills

Rep. David Joyce, R-Ohio, is the co-sponsor of a bill that would allow states to craft their own cannabis policies. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The cannabis industry investors, business owners and legalization advocates had met before to discuss the legal and regulatory headaches of operating in a world that’s licensed and regulated by states but illegal under federal law.

But what made those at Tuesday’s gathering describe it as a public relations milestone was the location: inside the Capitol complex.