Environment

Budget and Appropriations Members Rack Up Travel Time
Boots on the ground or paid vacation?

Staff travel makes up a significant chuck of the amounts spent on travel by the Appropriations and Budget committees. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Members of the Budget and Appropriations committees have spent about $2 million on foreign travel since the start of 2016, including trips to Argentina, Tanzania, Italy and the United Kingdom, according to an analysis of congressional records.

Appropriations Committee members far outpace their colleagues on the Budget Committee in the number of trips and how much they've spent on travel outside the United States. From Jan. 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017, Appropriations Committee members and staff spent $1.9 million on foreign travel and Budget Committee members and staff spent $36,000.

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.

A New Kind of Political Ad: ‘Honest Stories Work’
Creators of ironworker Randy Bryce’s viral video are behind new Boyd Melson intro

Democrat Boyd Melson’s introduction video features clips of him boxing and photos from his military service. (Courtesy Boyd Melson for Congress, screenshot)

Matt McLaughlin hasn’t always been a fan of political ads. For a long time he thought most campaign videos were “horrible.”

But it was his distaste with the status quo that led the 31-year-old filmmaker to translate his storytelling techniques from consumer brand commercials to political campaigns.

Could There Soon Be Another Pence in Washington?
Vice President’s older brother likely to run for Congress in Indiana

Denise and Gary Pence attended President Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Courtesy Denise Pence/Facebook)

Greg Pence starred in a recent candidate announcement video, but it wasn’t for his own campaign — at least not yet.

The older brother of Vice President Mike Pence is the finance chairman of Indiana Rep. Luke Messer’s Senate campaign, and on the day Messer tweeted he was getting in the race, Greg Pence was the one who addressed the camera.

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.

Zack Barth ‘Not Living in Fear’ After Congressional Baseball Shooting
Hill staffer talks about his shooter, his faith and life afterward

Zack Barth, an aide to Texas Rep. Roger Williams, was wounded in the leg during the shooting at the Republicans’ baseball practice in Arlington, Va., on June 14. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Zack Barth was never supposed to be dodging bullets in the outfield.

His job was to feed fly balls back to the infield for Republican lawmakers during an early-morning baseball practice ahead of the annual Congressional Baseball Game against the Democrats.

Congress Is Broken, and Staff Members Know Why
Survey reveals dissatisfaction with key performance measures

Staff members rated key areas of congressional dysfunction in a survey released Tuesday, including the low level of staff experience, a lack of time for members to focus on important issues and a paucity of access to nonpartisan reports. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Members of Congress will return in September to a glut of complex and technically challenging tasks, including tax policy, the debt ceiling, and Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

But they won’t have the staff expertise, time or outside resources to do the job.

Democrats Tee Up ‘Better Deal’ Trade Pitch
Proposal includes ‘shame’ list for outsourcers

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has long pushed the executive branch to take action against Chinese currency manipulation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats want to set up a new organization to review the effects of foreign purchases of U.S. companies for economic consequences.

The so-called American Jobs Security Council would operate similar to the existing Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which makes headlines occasionally when it intervenes in foreign efforts to invest in U.S. interests because of national security concerns.

Christopher Wray Faces Challenges as New FBI Director
Senate confirms new director on 92-5 vote, showing bipartisan support

The Senate confirmed Christopher Wray as the FBI director, 92-5. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Christopher Wray will lead the FBI as it wrestles with challenges such as cybersecurity and domestic terrorist investigations, as well as the political fallout from the bureau’s role in the 2016 presidential election and its ongoing investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign.

The Senate’s bipartisan support for Wray, 50, is rooted in his reputation as well as experience with national security issues and major investigations as a federal prosecutor, a Justice Department official after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and as a lawyer in private practice.

Americans Dubious of GOP Health Care Reform, Poll Finds
GOP operatives say party leaders must press on

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, are trying to push a health care overhaul forward. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new poll found a third of Americans think a GOP health care policy would marginally affect their health care. Just 15 percent think their coverage would improve. So why are Republicans hellbent on dismantling the 2010 health care law before the August recess?

Nine out of every 10 respondents to a new Economist/YouGov poll agreed health care is an issue that is at least “somewhat important,” with seven out of 10 saying health care was “very important.”