Steyer pushing more green group activity in 2014, driving new hires

National Journal

Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer's plans to spend up to $100 million this election season are helping boost some environmental groups, generating a spate of new hires and heavier spending, National Journal reports.

House lawmakers form "Refinery Congress"


A group of 25 House members led by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., have formed the Congressional Refinery Caucus, a bipartisan group dedicated to promoting and supporting  the interests of the refining industry, FuelFix reports.

Upton threatens subpoena over EPA carbon regs


House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., and Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, threatened a subpoena over agency documents related to proposed limits on carbon emissions from power plants, Reuters reports.

Top Senate Democrat blocks votes on gun proposals in hunting bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked a parade of campaign-season votes on gun rights Wednesday that could have been a political thorn for Democrats seeking to retain control of the chamber in this fall's elections.

The Nevada Democrat used Senate procedures to prevent votes on any amendments to a bipartisan measure expanding hunters' access to public lands and renewing land conservation programs. The dozens of thwarted proposals included Republican efforts to expand gun owners' rights and Democratic attempts to toughen firearms restrictions.

In April 2013, the Senate rejected an effort to expand background checks for gun buyers and to impose other firearms curbs, four months after the fatal shootings of 20 children and six staffers at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. President Barack Obama and top Democrats promised the drive would be renewed, but they have lacked the additional votes and faced reluctance by some lawmakers to revisit the issue.

Senate OKs San Antonio mayor as housing secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate easily confirmed San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro on Wednesday to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, boosting the national profile of a Democrat with a compelling biography who's considered a vice presidential contender in 2016.

The 71-26 vote makes the 39-year-old Castro one of the government's highest-ranking Hispanics, a growing group of voters who lean solidly Democratic. His ascension comes two years after he got his first broad national exposure when President Barack Obama picked him to deliver the keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

All 26 votes against Castro came from Republicans, including one of his home-state senators, Ted Cruz.

Senators press for more sanctions on Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic and Republican senators exasperated with the Obama administration's response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine threatened on Wednesday that Congress will act unilaterally on new sanctions.

"What are we waiting for?" Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked twice at a hearing with senior administration officials from State, Treasury and the Defense departments about targeted sanctions that the administration said it was preparing last month.

Lawmakers ticked off a list of examples of Russia's pattern of escalating the nearly three month crisis and then pulling back, arguing that Russian President Vladimir Putin has made the U.S. and European allies look foolish. More than 400 people have died and thousands have fled their homes in Ukraine as fighting continues between government forces and pro-Russia separatists.


GOP using budget weapon to hit Obama environment programs

House Republicans used a pair of appropriations bills Wednesday to try to rein in President Barack Obama's energy and environment policies, drawing a White House veto threat for one measure. 

Lawmakers used the 2015 appropriation for the Department of Energy and water-related agencies to try to head off new Environmental Protection Agency rules clarifying the agency's jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act and regulating mining waste.  They attached riders barring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from working with EPA on the rules. 

The White House on Wednesday threatened to veto the $34 billion bill, saying it "includes objectionable environmental riders that would prevent the use of funds to address known deficiencies and regulatory uncertainties related to Clean Water Act regulations that protect important aquatic resources while supporting economic development."

GOP lawmakers try to ease new curbs on ivory sales

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in the House want to hold up new federal rules intended to crack down on ivory sales because it is becoming more difficult for owners of musical instruments, antiques and guns made with ivory to trade in such items.

A House Appropriations subcommittee acted Wednesday to block the rules as part of a measure funding the Fish and Wildlife Service. The legislation has a long way to go before it becomes law and the rules, announced in February, will stay in effect in the meantime.

The rules are aimed at combating elephant and rhinoceros poaching at a time when illegal trade in ivory is flourishing.

Obama raises money for absent Colo. senator

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a tough race for re-election, Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall chose the benefit of President Barack Obama's fundraising prowess Wednesday over the pleasure of his company.

He could have had both.

But he opted to work in Washington while the president, whose poll ratings hover around 40 percent in Colorado, headlined a fundraiser on his behalf in Denver.

Few energy investment moves by Congressional committee members: E&E


An E&E analysis of lawmakers' Personal Financial Disclosures for 2013 found that while many sitting on energy-related committees hold a stake in energy companies, few made significant changes to their portfolios last year.


Subscribe to Politics