Environment

19 House Races Shift Toward Democrats
List of competitive seats grows amid shifts against president’s party

New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen’s race for re-election has switched from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The midterm elections are still nearly a year and a half away, and the political dynamics could yet change, but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that history and the current environment are merging together for a potentially great set of elections for Democrats in November 2018. 

The president’s party has lost House seats in 18 of the last 20 midterm elections, and it’s lost an average of 33 seats in those 18 elections. Democrats need to gain 24 seats in order to take back the majority. 

Rep. Lamar Smith Out of Touch With Science, Challenger Says
Aerospace engineer — a veteran — is taking on Science committee chairman

Lamar Smith chairs the House Science Space and Technology Committee. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, is getting a Democratic challenger who says Smith is out of touch with science and his constituents.

Joseph Kopser announced Tuesday that he is taking on Smith, who is running for re-election for a 17th term in Congress in the solidly Republican central Texas district. Kopser, a combat veteran who served in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star, is one of a slew of candidates in science and technology fields running for elected office as political outsiders.

2018 Senate Recruitment: Too Early to Talk About It?
Challengers in tight races typically take their time to announce

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With the 2018 midterm elections about 18 months away, attention is shifting to the battle for the Senate — and who could emerge as potential challengers.

But history shows that prospective contenders have a few more months before they typically announce their candidacies.

EPA Sets Aside $12 Million for Employee Buyouts in FY 2017
Democrats have criticized plans for deep cuts to the agency

Sen. Thomas R. Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, has been critical of the Trump administration's plans for the EPA. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The EPA is setting aside $12 million of its fiscal 2017 budget allocation for a previously announced plan to offer employee buyouts and incentives for early retirements as part of a Trump administration effort to cut the agency’s workforce, according to a memo from its chief financial officer, David A. Bloom.

The $12 million comes from a pool of $24 million in unused money from fiscal 2016, according to the memo.

Chaffetz Resignation Sparks Conflict, Compressed Campaigns in Utah
Governor and state legislature disagree on special election timeline

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz says he will resign on June 30. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

In any other year, Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s decision to resign would have sparked a crowded Republican primary. But as one Utah GOP operative put it, this year is not like any other year. 

Consultant Chuck Warren sat down with a state lawmaker Friday morning to talk about a possible run for Congress. The lawmaker pointed to a picture of his family and his home and said, “Why would I give that up to go up there and pound my head against a wall?”

Democrats Grill Interior Nominee Over Energy Industry Ties
David Bernhardt wouldn't say whether he believes in climate change

Sen. Maria Cantwell said she was concerned whether David Bernhardt could avoid potential conflicts of interest with the energy industry in his new position as deputy Interior secretary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President Donald Trump’s deputy Interior secretary nominee David Bernhardt sidestepped questions during his Thursday confirmation hearing about whether he believes in climate change, saying instead that regardless of what the science says, he will follow the president’s the policy positions.

At the hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Republicans praised Bernhardt as “uniquely qualified” and Democrats raised objections to his long history as a lobbyist for oil, gas and mineral firms that could benefit from his appointment.

Cloud of Scandals Follow Trump Overseas
Lawmakers warn of stalled domestic agenda

President Donald Trump exits Air Force One on Feb. 6 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. On Friday, he leaves on a five-country swing amid several domestic scandals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ned T. Johnston via Wikimedia Commons)

A cloud of scandal and uncertainty will follow Donald Trump to five countries on his first overseas trip as president beginning this weekend. And it could only grow more ominous by the time he returns.

When Trump boards Air Force One on Friday, he will leave behind a growing pile of smoldering scandals, mostly of his own creation.

FCC Eyes Repeal of Net Neutrality, Dividing Internet Industry
Proposed changes have drawn more than 1.6 million public comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says net neutrality has adversely affected broadband investment after it took effect two years ago. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Ahead of a Federal Communications Commission vote Thursday to begin the process of rolling back Obama-era net neutrality regulations that treat internet traffic equally, battle lines are being drawn between internet service providers and giants like Google and Amazon.

The agency is expected to also decide Thursday on returning online privacy oversight to the Federal Trade Commission, whose rules are less onerous than the FCC’s that require internet service providers to obtain permission in advance before selling customers’ personal data to advertisers.

Mitch McConnell, Still Playing the Long Game
Trump revelations, FBI director search, don't rattle majority leader

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not allow the latest news about President Donald Trump to knock him off message. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY JASON DICK AND JOE WILLIAMS, CQ ROLL CALL

It’s difficult to get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to play anything but “The Long Game,” the Kentucky Republican’s political strategy, encapsulated by his 2016 memoir of the same name.

Congressional Review Act Gets a Workout
Window for expedited nixing of regulations closes, maybe

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson is among lawmakers who would be interested in expanding the scope of the Congressional Review Act beyond its generally understood reach. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

On May 11, Republicans in Congress had a little celebration for the end of more than a dozen Obama-era regulations, with member after member coming to the Senate floor heaping praise on a once-obscure law known as the Congressional Review Act.

Sen. James M. Inhofe of Oklahoma could barely contain himself: “I’m almost speechless when I think about the success. You know, we went 20 years taking up one CRA and then we end up passing 14 of them — all but one. It’s a huge success record.”