Science

Twitter Battles Over Kavanaugh Nomination Roar
Social media fuels partisan fire

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is at the center of a partisan Twitter war. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The political din over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination features the same kind of overheated rhetoric and partisanship of previous legendary confirmation fights. But this time, there is Twitter.

The preferred social media platform of President Donald Trump — the one that allows him to deliver his unfiltered message broadly and often shape the day’s media coverage — has introduced that same dynamic to the latest nomination for the high court, 280 characters at a time.

How Congress Made CHIP a Budgetary Boondoggle
Lawmakers have routinely used the Children’s Health Insurance Program to fund other priorities

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa., is a lonely voice in opposition to the way CHIP funds are being used. (Meredith Dake-O’Connor/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s getting harder and harder not to think of the nation’s signature health insurance program for children who aren’t quite poor enough to qualify for Medicaid as a “slush fund” to tap for other congressional priorities.

Lawmakers are on the verge of wringing another $7.7 billion in budgetary savings out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program to finance the discretionary portion of the Department of Health and Human Services’ fiscal 2019 budget, among other expenses in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations conference report. That would bring the CHIP offsets tally to $58.3 billion since the GOP House takeover after the 2010 midterms, according to a review of Labor-HHS-Education spending laws over the past nine years.

North Dakota Senate Race Could Come Down to Fossil Fuels
The problem? Heitkamp and Cramer have strikingly similar stances on energy

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer are vying for North Dakota’s Senate seat. They’re also racing to show off their energy chops. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The two candidates in the North Dakota Senate race — a tight matchup with massive implications for control of the chamber next Congress — are touting their Capitol Hill energy policy chops to gain an edge in one of the closest contests of the midterms. 

The race has triggered an escalating argument between vulnerable Democratic incumbent Heidi Heitkamp and her GOP challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer, over which one is the best champion of the state’s fossil fuel industries that rank among the most productive in the nation.

How the Republicans Fell for Trump’s Overconfidence Game
With the base seeing all criticism as ‘Fake News,’ the GOP could be in for a rough November

Convinced that polls are rigged for the Democrats, strong backers of President Donald Trump have convinced themselves that the Republican Congress is an impregnable fortress, Shapiro writes. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION  — The topic never pops up in statistical analyses or pundit roundtables on cable TV, but one of the most underappreciated factors shaping politics is overconfidence.

Historically, second-term presidents have been particularly vulnerable to arrogant overreach. For eight decades, the prime example has been Franklin Roosevelt’s ill-fated plan following his 1936 landslide re-election to pack the Supreme Court with six new justices. (A personal plea: Please don’t mention this scheme to Donald Trump.)

Carbon Dioxide Isn’t Just a Problem. It’s a Lucrative Product
America needs to invest in the next big thing — direct air capture and storage

America should invest in technologies to suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, Dorgan writes. Above, haze surrounds Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley, California, in 2017. (David McNew/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — While some experts butt heads over how to slash global carbon emissions, others are experimenting with ways to suck already-emitted gas out of the atmosphere and either store it or roll it back into useful products.

This technology, called direct air capture and storage, is among several strategies that could revolutionize the energy industry and make cleaning up the environment an increasingly profitable enterprise.

What’s Missing From Bob Woodward’s Book? Ask Ben Sasse
With McCain gone, the Nebraska Republican may be the closest thing left to a never-Trumper

Sen. Ben Sasse says he’s committed to the party of Lincoln and Reagan as long as there’s a chance to reform it. The true test would be a 50-50 Senate, Shapiro writes. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

OPINION — Bob Woodward’s book “Fear” — which might better have been called, Hunter Thompson-style, “Fear and Loathing in the White House” — is filled with revealing anecdotes that have gotten overlooked amid the incessant rounds of TV interviews and cable news panels.

One of my favorites comes from the early days of John Kelly’s White House tenure, as the new chief of staff briefly labored under the illusion that he could tame the erratic president.

FAA Authorization Still Grounded in Senate
Congress could be looking at sixth straight extension as Sept. 30 deadline approaches

Los Angeles International Airport in March. Congress could be headed toward its sixth straight extension of FAA authorization if it fails to meet a Sept. 30 deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration in June of last year. But the measure’s proponents have struggled ever since to get it to the floor, even as another deadline approaches at the end of this month.

Congress could be headed toward its sixth straight extension of FAA authorization if both chambers can’t pass a yet-unfinished conference bill before Sept. 30. House leaders on the issue, who steered easy passage of their measure earlier this year, have blamed the other chamber, which hasn’t passed its own bill.

SSTs Could Fly Again as Congress Targets Supersonic Ban
Decades-old rule says commercial aircraft can’t exceed Mach 1. That could change

The prospect of opening up the U.S. to high-speed flights has prompted warnings about the fate of the Concorde — the world’s largest supersonic passenger jet, retired years ago amid restrictions on sonic booms. (Ian Waldie/Getty Images file photo)

The U.S. has banned domestic commercial supersonic aviation for four decades, but lawmakers could upend those restrictions in the coming weeks even as environmentalists and public health advocates warn that doing so could elevate pollution and climate damage from high speed aircraft.

Congress faces a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. A provision in the House-passed FAA reauthorization bill directs the agency to create federal and international “policies, regulations, and standards relating to the certification and safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.”

Key Players in FAA Conference Negotiations
Committee leaders come with their own priorities for FAA reauthorization

House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., left, and ranking member Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., both want to do a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Sept. 30 deadline to renew Federal Aviation Administration programs approaches, members of both parties are working to reach a deal on a consensus bill that could be acceptable to both chambers.

The process has been slowed because the Senate did not pass its committee-approved bill. Negotiators in an informal conference committee don’t know how many of up to 90 amendments offered to the Senate measure could be in play or whether any senator will object to a final bill that doesn’t include his or her priorities.

What Congress Wants to Study and ‘Explore’ About Itself
Dunkin’ Donuts, horse mounted police and leaky Cannon tunnel all will get consideration

Congress wants studies on police horses, flooding in the Cannon Tunnel, Senate child care and more. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

What to do with some basement ambience, Horse-mounted police and Dunkin’ Donuts are but a few questions appropriators want answered as they look to fund Congress and its agencies to the tune of $4.8 billion.The fiscal year 2019 appropriations conference committee report released Monday includes reporting requirements and requests for studies and explorations. Here are just a few: 

Conferees had some real talk about the tunnel that connects the Cannon House Office Building to the Capitol:“The current condition of the Cannon tunnel is that of a basement ambience,” said the report, “Furthermore the tunnel is subject to leaks which have recently caused the tunnel to be closed.”The report directs the Architect of the Capitol and the  Clerk of the House to develop a comprehensive plan to “enhance the tunnel,” including cost estimates, timeline, and renderings.