Perceived Ban on Federal Research for Gun Violence to Remain
Pending omnibus will not reverse the “Dickey Amendment”

Students protested in front of the Capitol last week as part of a national walkout and called on Congress to act on gun violence prevention. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The pending fiscal year 2018 spending bill will not address a perceived ban on the federal government conducting research into gun violence, according to congressional aides.

Whether any other gun control measures are added to the spending bill, expected to be released Monday evening, remains an open question. Aides said no final decision has been made yet whether to include Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn’s legislation related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Women Who Run the Show
Monica Popp and Alexis Covey-Brandt are chiefs of staff in leadership offices

Monica Popp has been Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn’s chief for almost three years. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Republicans haven’t exactly followed the advice of conservative icon Margaret Thatcher, who liked to say, “If you want anything done, ask a woman.”

The GOP has five female senators, and none in leadership. It can seem like a man’s caucus, at least from the outside looking in.

Opinion: Building a Water Workforce for America’s Future
Infrastructure investment must include training for those who manage our critical water systems

It is critical to invest in training for the engineers and technicians  who keep the nation’s critical water systems in operation, Tonko writes. Pictured above, the Kensico Dam and Reservoir in Valhall, N.Y. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images file photo)

America faces a tough reality when it comes to our drinking water infrastructure. Eighty-six percent of U.S. households today depend on public water, and the EPA has estimated that nearly $400 billion will be needed in the coming decades just to keep those systems in working order.

Unfortunately, underground pipes and pumps aren’t the only critical components of these systems that are being overlooked. Even as water system failures hit communities all across the U.S., the professionals who keep these beleaguered systems operating safely are aging too. Many are already approaching retirement. In fact, some 37 percent of water utility workers and 31 percent of wastewater utility workers are expected to retire in the next decade.

Five Cabinet Secretaries Face Senate Barrage
Questions range from infrastructure to nuclear waste to the Census

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune's panel hosted five Cabinet secretaries on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not every day — or even every decade — that five cabinet secretaries walk in to testify at the same Senate hearing.

And while Wednesday’s Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing generally focused on President Donald Trump’s proposal to rebuild American infrastructure (and doubts about how to pay for it), senators took full advantage of having so many heavy hitters in one room.

Dave McCurdy, a Retiring Optimist Pushing Back on ‘Disciples of Declinism’
Former Intelligence chairman and current head of AGA reflects on two public careers

Former Oklahoma Rep. Dave McCurdy, president of the American Gas Association, will retire in February 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After nearly four decades in Washington, former Rep. Dave McCurdy is still an optimist.

Even as the former Democratic congressman from Oklahoma and current head of the American Gas Association prepares for retirement, he says there is a lot Congress can learn from the swamp so easily derided by public officials who struggle to step out of their partisan foxholes.

Whitehouse Preps 200th Climate Speech, Hoping Senate Will Stir
“It is an indicator of the extent [to] which the fossil fuel industry owns the joint”

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse speaks with Roll Call in his office on Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Every week of every Senate session for the last six years, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has taken to the floor to urge his colleagues to “wake up” to the dire consequences of their inaction on climate change.

But the slumbering chamber keeps hitting the snooze button.

Congress Could Split Payments to Broadcasters Over Two Years
Thune, Walden explore compensating spectrum moves over longer period of time

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., says members are exploring spreading out payments to broadcasters for spectrum moves from one year to two. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune says authorizers and appropriators are exploring whether to compensate broadcasters for giving up spectrum over two years rather than one, a change that could make it a more palatable item in spending bills.

The South Dakota Republican, who is also chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, and House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., are trying to secure about $1 billion to compensate broadcasters for giving up one part of the spectrum and move to another. But appropriators are balking at the sum.

Ryan’s Piecemeal Approach May Keep GOP Infrastructure Push Afloat
But speaker’s strategy of multiple bills could complicate Senate passage

Speaker Paul D. Ryan wants to break an infrastructure overhaul into pieces, moving five to six bills before the August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A key piece of the Republicans’ 2018 legislative agenda is shape-shifting.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s pronouncement last week that an infrastructure overhaul will be tackled in multiple bills serves a dual purpose: It keeps hope for one of the president’s top policy priorities alive, while setting more realistic expectations for what will get done this midterm election year.

Thune Clears Path for Long-Term Aviation Bill This Summer
Commerce chairman abandons effort to change how pilot hours are counted

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune is dropping a controversial pilot training provision from the aviation bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s decision to drop a controversial provision on pilot training clears a path for lawmakers to complete a long-term aviation reauthorization bill this summer that addresses drones, aircraft certification, safety and other issues.

Thune, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said last week he was abandoning his effort to change how pilot hours are counted. That came after House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster gave up the week before on spinning off the air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration. Both proposals encountered stiff resistance in Congress.

Porn Still Turning Up in the Federal Workplace Despite Ban
Congress made rules to block employees from watching porn. But will it act to enforce them?

North Carolina Rep. Walter B. Jones led the effort to expand a pornography ban as part of the 2017 omnibus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

It’s been six years since Congress began banning federal employees from watching pornography in the workplace. But even though lawmakers have gradually added the rule to spending bills, implementing it agency by agency, some workers are still pulling up porn — and some departments still aren’t covered.

As the spotlight on sexual exploitation intensifies in Washington and around the nation, it’s clear that the problem of online porn in the federal workplace hasn’t gone away.