Science

Outside influences seek to remake ‘This Old House’
Outside interests are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress

U.S. Capitol dome as seen from the west. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress’ “This Old House” committee, a brand new panel tasked with helping to update the legislative branch for the modern era, is already sparking attention off of Capitol Hill.

Outside interests — from government overhaul groups and think tanks to tech industry players — are mobilizing to influence the new House Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress. The year-long, 12-lawmaker panel will offer recommendations for rehabilitating Congress in such areas as technology and cybersecurity, procedures and scheduling, staff retention and executive-branch oversight.

Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence
Top Democrats who would oversee legislation in the House are reluctant to endorse plan that would remake economy

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have championed the Green New Deal on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution outlining the goals of the Green New Deal capped off its first week of a somewhat messy rollout with mixed reviews, even from typically Democratic strongholds like labor unions.

In the House, the top two Democrats who would oversee any legislation that comes out of the plan have remained reluctant to fully endorse it, stopping at lauding the goals and the enthusiasm behind them. And Republicans quickly branded the Green New Deal as an extreme, socialist plan with unrealistic proposals to eliminate air travel and cows.

The dead earmarks society
Congress gave up pork years ago. Now it could be making a comeback

Steny Hoyer says he’s working to restore congressionally directed spending, with “reforms to ensure transparency and accountability.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

From the outside, they looked like a collection of political misfits akin to the characters from “The Breakfast Club.” This peculiar little crew of lobbyists, ethics watchdogs and government spending hawks included the likes of Public Citizen’s Craig Holman and former House member-turned-lobbyist Jim Walsh.

Instead of serving Saturday detention, like the high schoolers of the 1985 hit movie, they spent their meetings nearly a decade ago seeking compromise on one of Congress’ most politically fraught but powerful tools: earmarks. “It was a strange group, an eclectic group,” concedes Holman, whose liberal Public Citizen is best known for taking on K Street, not working with the lobbyists and lawyers in the sector. “We identified what the real problem with earmarks is — and earmarks do pose a serious problem with corruption.”

Some GOP lawmakers are thawing on climate change
‘There are some things I’m willing to look at,’ said House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows

“There are some things I’m willing to look at,” Freedom Caucus Chairman Meadows said of climate solutions. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congressional Republicans seem to be thawing on climate.

Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who has denied the science behind climate change, told reporters Wednesday he was open to confront the peril of the warming planet.

Sam Ervin took down Nixon. We’re still waiting for his heir
Maybe Nancy Pelosi needs to appoint a small select committee modeled after Watergate

Folksy North Carolina Sen. Sam Ervin, center, chaired the committee that destroyed Nixon’s strongest claim to power — his political popularity, Shapiro writes. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — It is easy to imagine an undiscovered Samuel Beckett play entitled “Waiting for Mueller.” On stage, faithful Democrats vacillate between stubborn hope (“He should be here”) and fatalistic despair (“He didn’t say for sure that he would come”). In the end, they just wait, day after day.

Whatever Robert Mueller’s internal timetable (seers like Rudy Giuliani have so far been comically wrong in trying to predict it), the investigation will face new pressures with the virtually certain Senate confirmation this week of William Barr. For the first time, Mueller will be supervised by a legitimate attorney general — rather than an acting Donald Trump factotum — who has avoided any promises about releasing the full report.

In bid to avoid shutdown, spending deal drops Violence Against Women Act extension, other contentious provisions
House and Senate conferees were signing the document Wednesday night, votes expected Thursday

Senate Appropriations leaders Richard C. Shelby, right, and Patrick J. Leahy led conference negotiations on senators’ behalf. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As negotiators were finalizing a final fiscal 2019 funding package highlighted by border security spending Wednesday evening, it became clear that an extension of the Violence Against Women Act wouldn’t make the cut.

Several policy riders in the mix earlier Wednesday, including back pay for federal contractors for wages lost during the 35-day partial shutdown and the VAWA extension, didn’t make it in the final bargaining over the fiscal 2019 spending conference report, according to aides in both parties.

Mark Kelly launches Senate run in Arizona
Former astronaut is vying to take on GOP Sen. Martha McSally

Mark Kelly is running for Senate in Arizona. He is married to former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former astronaut and Navy veteran Mark Kelly announced Tuesday that he is running for Senate in Arizona, looking to take on GOP Sen. Martha McSally.

Kelly is married to former Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured during a shooting at a constituent event in 2011. Kelly and Giffords have since been vocal advocates for gun control. 

Road ahead: Border security deadline, celebrating The Dean and a new attorney general
Race against the clock to avoid another shutdown begins

House and Senate negotiators will find their road ahead this week dominated by the deadline to fund the federal government. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Federal workers and lawmakers are already thinking about Friday, the deadline for a spending deal to avert another partial government shutdown. But there’s plenty of other action expected on Capitol Hill before then.

House and Senate negotiators have been working for more than two weeks on a border security funding deal that would clear the way for a final fiscal 2019 spending package.

Border security talks stalled over detentions, second shutdown possible
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told ‘Meet the Press,’ ‘you absolutely cannot rule out’ a shutdown.

Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont., left, and Richard Shelby, R-Ala., attend a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing in Russell Building on nominations on July 26, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Negotiations on a border security deal have hit a snag in a dispute over immigrant detention policy, Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby said Sunday.

House and Senate conferees were scrambling to reach a deal by Monday that would resolve the impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall and avoid another partial government shutdown when current funding runs dry on Feb. 15. But Shelby put the odds of a deal at only “50-50,” citing a partisan rift over Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Most Democrats from Virginia delegation call on Fairfax to resign
Only Scott and Warner did not call for immediate resignation

Freshman Rep. Elaine Luria was of six Virginia Democrats in the House to call for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to step aside Friday night. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The majority of Virginia’s Democratic delegation on Friday night called for the resignation of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who’s facing allegations of sexual assault from two women. 

Only Robert C. Scott, the dean of the House delegation, and Sen. Mark Warner did not call for Fairfax's resignation immediately.