Science

EPA finalizes clean water rollback amid science challenges
New rule removes federal authority over smaller bodies of water that feed larger water supplies. Opponents said states should handle such local regulation

President Donald Trump showed a hat that says "Make Counties Great Again" before signing an Executive Order in February 2017 to  roll-back of environmental regulations put in place by the Obama administration. (Photo by Aude Guerrucci-Pool/Getty Images)

The Trump administration on Thursday finalized a rule that significantly reduces the federal government’s role in regulating waterways, fulfilling a campaign promise to farmers and energy interests and handing a win to conservatives who have pushed for changes to the Clean Water Act regulations.

The rule, which redefines what constitutes “waters of the United States,” revises decades-old standards for regulating waterways, a move environmentalists warn will lead to pollution of water that wildlife and people depend on, especially in low-income areas and communities of color. Several current and former EPA and Army Corps of Engineers employees and scientific advisers oppose the move, charging that political appointees blocked the use of scientific information in writing the rule.

Report: Speed up drug development with artificial intelligence
But it says new legal, ethical, economic and social questions must be addressed

Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander is among a group of lawmakers who requested the artificial intelligence report by the National Academy of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More and improved use of artificial intelligence, and an overhaul of medical education to include advances in machine learning, could cut down significantly the time it takes to develop and bring new drugs to market, according to a new joint report by the National Academy of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office.

Before that can happen, however, the United States must address legal and policy impediments that inhibit the collection and sharing of high-quality medical data among researchers, the report said.

Congress saw more bills introduced in 2019 than it has in 40 years, but few passed
Partisan divide and Senate’s focus on confirmations among factors cited

The 116th Congress is on track to enact a lower percentage of bills than any in modern times. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It would stand to reason that representatives and senators, dissuaded by the gridlock in Congress, would hesitate to introduce legislation. After all, only 105 laws were enacted during 2019, a poor showing by historical standards.

But that’s not what happened last year. In fact, lawmakers are on a pace to introduce more bills and joint resolutions than they have since the 1970s, when Congresses routinely saw 20,000 or more introduced.

White House angers GOP senator with executive privilege claim on car tariff report
Other executive privilege claims could be key in impeachment trial

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., is not pleased with the administration's claim of executive privilege ona statutorily required report. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration is making a sweeping claim of executive privilege on a topic of interest to the Senate this week, and it has nothing to do with the impeachment trial.

And the White House is angering at least one Republican senator in the process.

Think impeachment has been a self-defeating crusade for Democrats? Think again
Ukraine call may be old news, but don’t discount its moral power in a trial

The punditocracy may say that Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have overplayed their hands on impeachment, but the latest Iowa Poll pokes holes in that argument, Shapiro writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

[OPINION] DES MOINES, Iowa — The recently unveiled Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll is considered the gold standard for deciphering the opening-gun Feb. 3 Democratic caucuses. But a polling question asked of a sample of the entire Iowa electorate may be more important for understanding the upcoming impeachment trial.

The question never mentioned the words “Donald Trump.” Instead, it asked registered Iowa voters, “Do you think it is OK or not OK for a U.S. presidential candidate to try to gain political advantage over an election rival by seeking help from foreign countries?”

Climate-focused Democrats hope for November reward
They seek to solidify themselves as the party of climate action

Jane Fonda, center, and Susan Sarandon, red scarf, march toward the Capitol on Friday during a weekly rally to call for action on climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats know that their “comprehensive” climate plans are unlikely to see the light of day in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate and face vetoes by a president who has at times rejected the scientific consensus on global warming.

But there’s a strategy afoot to solidify Democrats’ election-year banner as the party of climate action and lure young, independent and even Republican voters disgruntled with the Trump administration’s retreat on environmental issues, analysts say.

Reapportionment could force a Rhode Island showdown
Smallest state projected to lose a House seat after 2020

Rhode Island Reps. David Cicilline, left, and Jim Langevin may have to duke it in a primary in 2022 with their state projected to lose a seat after the next census. (Tom Williams/Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photos)

This year’s census will likely prompt a political showdown between longtime members of Congress in the nation’s smallest state.

An analysis based on Census Bureau population projections has Rhode Island losing its second congressional seat in 2022, one of 10 states that could lose representation in Congress. The projections show a tight margin for the last few congressional seats, according to an analysis from Election Data Services. The Ocean State stands 14,000 residents shy of the seat, or about 1 percent of its population.

Chris Allen, Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died
Allen handled pensions and tax-exempt organizations issues under Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley

Chris Allen, right, with Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., in an undated photo. (Courtesy Sen. Pat Roberts)

Chris Allen, a Senate Finance Committee GOP tax aide, has died, according to his former boss, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.

“Chris was beloved by everyone who had the privilege of meeting him,” Roberts said in a statement. “He had a brilliant mind, a generosity of spirit and a passion for serving the country in the United States Senate. His gentle soul made him an amazing husband, father, son, brother and friend.”

Emails show Boeing employees derided FAA and worried about 737 Max simulators
Chairmen investigating FAA's handling of ill-fated aircraft say 'incredibly damning' messages show 'troubling disregard for safety'

Boeing 737 Max airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing Field in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Long before two separate Boeing 737 Max airplane crashes killed 346 people, employees of the company exchanged internal messages displaying deep concern about the aircraft’s simulators as well as disdain for federal regulators.

In dozens of pages of messages released to congressional committees investigating the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia and the March 2019 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft in Ethiopia, employees expressed dismay about a flight simulator used to test the aircraft, criticized the culture of the company and bantered about tricking regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the aircraft.

When science fiction becomes environmental fact, it might be time to worry
Storylines from ‘The Twilight Zone’ are now playing out in real time

A bushfire burns in the town of Moruya, New South Wales, Australia, on Sunday. As the country burns, many of its leaders remain unmoved on the science behind climate change, insisting Australia does not need to cut its carbon emissions, Curtis writes. (Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images)

OPINION — How did you spend your holiday? If you’re like me, one guilty pleasure was devouring TV marathons, designed to offer relief from the stresses of the season. Reliable favorites include back-to-back episodes of “The Twilight Zone” and, on Turner Classic Movies, one whole day devoted to science fiction, imaginings both cautionary and consoling of what the future holds for our world.

But usual escapes didn’t quite work this year, not when fact is scarier than anything “Twilight Zone” creator Rod Serling might have dreamed up, though the serious Serling who introduced each episode of his iconic series, all furrowed brow and cigarette in hand, did signal he suspected what was coming if mankind didn’t shape up.