Science

Inside the Library of Congress’ Reading Room Just for Members
The history of the Thomas Jefferson Congressional Reading Room

A view from the balcony of the Congressional Reading Room. (Alex Gangitano/Roll Call)

Down a corridor inside the Library of Congress’ Thomas Jefferson Building, a code just for members of Congress guards a special room.

Even lawmakers’ spouses can’t walk into the Congressional Reading Room alone. But when a member of Congress unlocks the door, it opens to a private space staffed by a Congressional Research Service employee, there to answer questions and assist members seeking materials. The room is stocked with periodicals, books, desks and computers.

Hatch Has High Hopes for Medical Marijuana Bill
83-year-old Mormon Republican emerges as unlikely champion

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Utah Republican, has emerged as an unlikely champion of medical marijuana. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Sen. Orrin G. Hatch is an unlikely advocate for a medical marijuana bill.

An 83-year-old Utah Republican and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hatch says he is staunchly against recreational drug use. But as the opioid epidemic continues to ravage states across the country, the Senate’s president pro tempore sees an opportunity in advancing the use of cannabis for pain management.

Mining Concerns Animate Minnesota Swing District
Rick Nolan gets challenger for DFL endorsement

Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan, center, talks with Mark Froemke, right, and Wayne Fleischhacker, of the AFL-CIO, during a fish fry and fundraiser last fall. (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

First-time candidate Leah Phifer doesn’t have many policy differences with Democratic-Farmer-Labor Rep. Rick Nolan — an original co-sponsor of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness Act — except on one issue.

Phifer thinks her fellow Democrat has gone too far toward siding with the mining industry. The former FBI counterterrorism analyst is seeking the DFL’s endorsement for Minnesota’s 8th District and kicked off her campaign over the weekend.

Thad Cochran, Still Ailing, Will Miss Senate Votes This Week
Urinary tract infection sidelines Mississippi Republican for extended time

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran has been absent from the Capitol since September and will continue to be away while he recuperates. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Thad Cochran will not immediately return to Washington following a four-week absence, raising speculation about the 79-year-old Mississippi Republican’s ability to continue as Appropriations chairman during the remainder of the 115th Congress.

His absence could also have implications for the budget resolution vote this week, though debate was still on track as of Monday, even after Cochran’s office confirmed he would not be present.

Thwarted by Congress, DeVos Seeks School Choice With Grants
She must also follow a presidential directive to fund STEM programs

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Congress has blocked school choice proposals from the Trump administration, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos may have found a way to make choice a priority by awarding grants.

House Appoints Defense Bill Negotiators As Space Corps Fight Looms
F-35 fighter jets will be another point of contention as the chambers confer

The Senate so vigorously opposes the Space Corps proposal that it adopted by unanimous consent an amendment — offered by Sens. Bill Nelson and Tom Cotton, shown here in 2016 — to the Senate NDAA that would block it. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The House on Thursday agreed by unanimous consent to begin negotiations with the Senate on the fiscal 2018 Defense authorization bill. Throughout the coming weeks, a panel of conferees from each chamber will negotiate a final version of the legislation before Congress votes to send the bill to the president.

The House will send to the conference 46 Republicans and 27 Democrats. Eighteen Republicans and 13 Democrats will represent the Armed Services Committee in the negotiations.

Word on the Hill: Scientist Turned Politician Takes the Stage
Things to do this weekend

California Rep. Jerry McNerney is a scientist turned congressman. (Bill Clark/Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., wrapped up the week with some laughs in the service of science. 

Taking the stage at a science comedy night show at DC Improv on Thursday night, the congressman talked about his background and what it’s like to be a scientist in Congress. McNerney is a former wind-turbine engineer and holds a doctorate in mathematics.

Word on the Hill: Welcome, Wharf
Sensenbrenner’s town halls, Boyle on soccer, and Hatch is Cosmo

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton will help open up the newly renovated area in Southwest D.C. (Chris Maddaloni/Roll Call File Photo)

$2.5 billion later, the mile-long stretch on the Southwest D.C. waterfront — The Wharf — will officially open today. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., and Mayor Muriel Bowser will participate in the opening ceremony at 11 a.m.

That’s followed by a day of live music, including a Bacon Brothers concert at 5 p.m., muralists, magicians, face painters, stilt walkers and daytime fireworks. Watch for HOH’s coverage of the opening.

EPA Moves to Repeal Climate Rule; Lawsuits to Follow
With Clean Power Plan on the chopping block, environmental groups gear up to sue

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, left, said this week that unraveling the Clean Power Plan would right “the wrongs of the Obama administration.” (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

The EPA’s move on Tuesday to undo the Obama administration’s signature climate change rule will almost certainly trigger an onslaught of lawsuits from environmental groups and many blue states that have been bracing for that action since President Donald Trump took office.

The agency said it had filed a notice with the Federal Register proposing to unravel the 2015 Clean Power Plan and will seek public input into that proposal over a 60-day period. But the EPA did not commit to promulgating a replacement policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which environmentalists have said would lead them to sue to stop the repeal or force the agency to write a new policy.

Want to Know How to Curb Gun Violence? Don’t Ask Congress
Majorities have blocked gun-related research for decades

Former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords turns to shake her fist at the Capitol as her husband, retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, looks on during a news conference after the mass shooting in Las Vegas. (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The mass shooting in Las Vegas last week — like every high-profile mass shooting — raised a host of questions about why such horrors happen and how they can be prevented. But don’t look to Congress to help provide the answers.

Could gunman Stephen Paddock have been stopped while he was stockpiling dozens of weapons ahead of his rampage if law enforcement officials had tracked and flagged suspicious gun purchasing patterns?