Virginia

These toxins last ‘forever.’ But the EPA is going slow
PFAS were used for decades to make cookware, microwave popcorn bags, carpeting, rainwear and shoes

Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works in August. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

When two officials from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality showed up at Sandy Wynn-Stelt’s Belmont, Michigan, house in July of 2017 asking to test her private water well, she didn’t anticipate trouble.

So she was stunned when they discovered incredibly high levels of a class of chemicals that are raising serious pollution and health concerns as communities around the country discover their water is contaminated with them.

Capitol Police crackdown on press escalates to physical altercation
Witness: ‘It got really ugly’

A Capitol Police crackdown turned physical Thursday, when police clashed with reporters attempting to speak with senators (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Capitol Police crackdown turned physical Thursday afternoon, when officers clashed with reporters attempting to speak with senators in a location known as key territory for lawmakers and media to mix: the Senate basement.

Capitol Police officers physically shoved reporters away from senators heading to vote on the spending package, even when lawmakers were willingly engaging with the press.

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.”

Two protests in Hart end in Valentine’s Day arrests

Demonstrations for gun control and against a West Virginia factory project resulted in 19 arrests Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Passion was in the air in the Hart Senate Office building on Valentine’s Day. Demonstrations for gun control and against a West Virginia factory project  resulted in 19 arrests Thursday.

A group called Gays Against Guns staged a demonstration in the Hart Atrium in the afternoon. They chanted “Guns are breaking America’s heart,” and “Stronger background checks now” as they lay on the floor enveloped in a massive swath of shiny red fabric.

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.

Government plays hardball on SEC headquarters lease
GAO spurns landlords, keeping a contract option to buy SEC buildings — potentially at a huge profit

Construction on the Securities and Exchange Commission building called Station Place near Union Station. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The federal government will keep an option to buy the buildings that house the Securities and Exchange Commission in Washington, D.C. — potentially at a huge profit — spurning a request from private landlords to change the terms.

The property owners wanted to remove a provision that allows the agency to purchase the buildings it inhabits at a predetermined price. In a decision released Feb. 8, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which evaluates protests regarding government business opportunities, said it wouldn’t alter the terms of the bidding process.

Bill to ‘repatriate’ deported veterans gets new life in Democratic House
Bipartisan bill would provide path to citizenship for immigrant veterans deported after committing nonviolent crimes

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas, was one of two lawmakers to re-introduce a bill this week to help immigrant veterans gain permanent legal status in the U.S. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Two lawmakers have revived a bipartisan bill to bring deported veterans back to the United States as permanent legal residents and open up an expedited path to citizenship for pre-9/11 noncitizen veterans.

This week, GOP Rep. Don Young of Alaska and Rep. Vicente Gonzalez of Texas reintroduced their bill from last Congress — the “Repatriate Our Patriots Act.” It had floundered in 2017’s GOP-controlled Judiciary Committee.

Progressives say Trump has no moral ground to call for Omar’s resignation
Congressional Progressive Caucus points out president referring to neo-Nazis as ‘very fine people’ after Charlottesville

Republicans have pushed for Rep. Ilhan Omar to relinquish her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Progressives mocked President Donald Trump after his call for Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar to resign, saying that the president has no moral authority to do so given his record on issues of hate and bigotry.

“As a candidate and now as president, Donald Trump has consistently and unapologetically trafficked in white nationalism, Islamaphobia, sexism and racism,” leaders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus said in a statement Tuesday night. “Americans of all political stripes must reject this transparently cynical effort by President Trump and Congressional Republicans to stifle and intimidate” diverse voices.

How Ralph Northam is spending his Black History Month
The African-Americans of his state have done a whole lot of forgiving since the first enslaved people were brought there centuries ago

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has been doing a lot of learning this month — about blackface, apologies and redemption. African-Americans who believe he should stay in his post are used to making political compromises to survive, Curtis writes. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

OPINION — The lessons of this February’s Black History Month commemorations have already veered far beyond the usual ones that begin and end by quoting a snippet of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — the part about judging folks not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. A new curriculum is being written in real time, affecting real-life politicians and their constituents. And Virginia is hardly the only state not ready for the big exam.

Of course, the politician in question, Gov. Ralph Northam, has been learning as he goes — about blackface, about apologies and about redemption.

Roll Call photographer Tom Williams wins WHNPA’s Political Photo of the Year
Photo editor Bill Clark picks up two more 2019 White House News Photographer Association awards

The above photo, by Roll Call staff photographer Tom Williams, has won WHNPA’s political photo of the year. In the image, Vice President Mike Pence is seen in the Senate Reception Room as Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., right, conducts a meeting on July 10, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Roll Call staff photographer Tom Williams has won the distinguished Political Photo of the Year award in the White House News Photographers Association’s 2019 Eyes of History contest.

The same photo, featuring Vice President Mike Pence in the Capitol, won first prize in the On Capitol Hill category of the visual awards.