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Spectrum auction could boot weather forecasting back to the 1970s, lawmakers warn
Appropriators call for delay of auction set for Thursday

The Federal Communications Commission, led by Ajit Pai, plans to go ahead with a spectrum auction aimed at securing American leadership in 5G. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior House members, citing a potential threat to the safety of millions of people, urgently asked a federal agency Wednesday to delay an auction of radio frequency spectrum that is slated to occur Thursday.

If that spectrum is used for 5G wireless communications, as planned, it could interfere with government satellites’ ability to collect data in a nearby band — information on which accurate weather forecasts hinge, three House Appropriations subcommittee chairmen said in a letter obtained by Roll Call.

Battle over Mueller report moving to House floor
Rules Committee clears measure for consideration by chamber

House Rules Chairman Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said calling for the release of the Mueller report did not mean there was an prejudgment of the report's findings. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House moved a step closer on Monday to demanding the Justice Department release to Congress the full report special counsel Robert S. Mueller III submits of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

The House Rules Committee passed the nonbinding resolution by voice vote Monday. That sets up a floor vote on the measure Thursday, according to a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which would be among the last things the chamber does before breaking for a weeklong recess.

White House readies lean budget with fat nondefense cuts
Democrats have already rejected plan that even some Republicans say is unrealistic

Copies of President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2020 budget run through the binding process at the Government Publishing Office in Washington on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

BY PAUL M. KRAWZAK AND DAVID LERMAN

President Donald Trump will send a budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday seeking to eliminate deficits in 15 years, relying on rosy economic growth forecasts to boost revenue and tight limits on nondefense appropriations to counterbalance hefty increases for the military and his signature border wall project.

House Democrats show improved response to Republican messaging votes
Democrats easily defeated a Republican motion to recommit Friday to their HR 1 government overhaul

Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., center, had voted for several Republican motions to recommit this year but he argued against the one the GOP offered to HR 1 Friday, calling it a “joke.” Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., right, meanwhile was one of six Democrats who voted with Republicans on that motion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats seem to have sharpened their response to Republican motions to recommit after the GOP twice bested the new majority using the procedural tool this year.

The improved messaging and whip operations around motions to recommit, or MTRs, since Democrats lost a second one early last week on a priority gun control bill seem to have quelled an immediate desire to overhaul the procedural tool.

The week on Capitol Hill in 10 Photos
The week of March 4-8 as captured by Roll Call’s photographers

A beam of sunlight illuminates the Portrait Monument, depicting suffragists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Lucretia Mott, as tourists crowd the Capitol Rotunda on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The week is coming to a close on the Hill after the passage of HR1, a voting and ethics package, in the House. Don’t miss this preview of the legislative priorities that are next on House Democrats’ agendas, by reporter Lindsey McPherson. 

Also this week, Michael Cohen was once again on the Capitol campus, and the marijuana legalization push continued.

Appropriators scold agency for poor student loan oversight
Aftershocks of inspector general report reach Congress

Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., urged student loan servicers and the FSA to remember that people’s livelihoods are at stake. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Education Department has to do a better job of holding accountable the companies that service student loans and don’t always do what’s best for borrowers, House appropriators said Wednesday.

The hearing by the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee comes after the Education Department inspector general issued a report last month that, among other things, said the Federal Student Aid program was inadequately overseeing loan servicers, who violated rules that prevented borrowers from choosing favorable repayment plans or even paying the correct monthly amounts.

Pipelines vulnerable under TSA’s watch
The same agency responsible for airport pat-downs is supposed to be guarding pathways for oil and natural gas

The Transportation Security Administration, better known for patting down passengers heading to their flights, is also in charge of securing about 2.7 million miles of pipelines carrying hazardous liquids, including the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. (Barry Williams/Getty Images file photo)

Nearly 3 million miles of pipelines that crisscross the United States carrying oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids may be vulnerable to cyberattacks as the federal agency responsible for overseeing their security is overburdened with other responsibilities, lawmakers, government auditors and regulators say.

The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, better known for pat-downs of passengers heading to their flights, is also in charge of securing about 2.7 million miles of pipelines. Most are buried underground in remote and open terrain, but others run through densely populated areas, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report.

Challenges for Trump’s Democratic overseers
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 142

Michael Cohen, former attorney for President Donald Trump, testifies during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats have ramped up oversight of President Donald Trump and his administration with hearings this week on Trump’s finances, the Russia inquiry, the immigrant child separation policy and more.

But holding hearings and asking questions is only the first step in successful oversight, says Justin Rood, director of the Congressional Oversight Initiative at the Project on Government Oversight and a former staff investigator for Oklahoma GOP Sen. Tom Coburn. Congressional overseers must then grapple with their targets to make sure they cooperate, or cultivate whistleblowers who will provide information outside the standard channels.

Senate confirms former coal lobbyist to lead EPA
Andrew Wheeler has worked to weaken and delay national and global environmental protections

Andrew Wheeler, arrives for his confirmation hearing in the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Jan. 16, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate on Thursday voted 52-47 to confirm Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who has worked to weaken and delay national and global environmental protections, as the head of the EPA.

Wheeler has served as acting EPA administrator since July, when the previous head, Scott Pruitt, resigned under a cloud of more than a dozen federal ethics investigations.

Hunt is on for legislative train as riders get in line
Legislative items are piling up, and some worry it will be September before a budget and debt ceiling deal is reached

Perdue arrives in the Capitol for Senate policy luncheons. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Urgent legislative items are piling up in search of a fast-moving vehicle, including food assistance for Puerto Rico residents, aid to crop growers in southeastern states hurt by last year’s hurricanes, and compensation for victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The hunt got a little more desperate Tuesday after the Congressional Budget Office estimated lawmakers may have even more time than they thought to tackle the statutory debt ceiling. While the nation’s borrowing cap roars back to life at roughly $22 trillion on Saturday, the CBO says Treasury accounting moves will generate enough “headroom” to remain under the ceiling until late September or early October.