Alaska

Debate on e-cigarettes lights up 10 years after FDA tobacco law
Calls grow for agency, Congress to do more after spike in teen use

Florida Rep. Donna E. Shalala says Congress must update the 2009 law that gave the FDA the authority to regulate tobacco products. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A decade after Congress gave the Food and Drug Administration the authority to regulate tobacco products, there is a growing sense that the law should be revisited to address a product that lawmakers barely knew about in June 2009: electronic cigarettes.

The tension lies in how to balance e-cigarettes’ potential benefits with their clear risks. While e-cigarettes may offer a less harmful alternative for adults who smoke combustible cigarettes, they can appeal to young people who never would have smoked.

Is the census ready for its online debut?
Census Bureau says it’s prepared for security threats, but watchdogs raise doubts

The prospect of an external attack has driven the Census Bureau to lean on the Department of Homeland Security. Above, workers attend a training session in Houston in February 2016. (Scott Dalton/Houston Census Office)

Next year the federal government will launch its largest public-facing online portal in years, for an undertaking facing risks ranging from foreign cyberattacks to collapsing under its own weight: the 2020 census.

For the first time, the census will rely on online responses, one of a slew of technological upgrades by the Census Bureau that also includes computerized address verification. Those changes have watchdogs worried, despite assurances by the bureau that it will be ready when the census is rolled out in Alaska starting in January. 

Brooks wants more Republican women to run in 2020 — even if she won’t
NRCC recruitment chair says she’ll have more time now to recruit and mentor candidates

Rep. Susan Brooks, one of 13 GOP women in the House, is not running for re-election in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The party that’s already lacking in women in the House is losing a giant in Indiana Republican Susan W. Brooks, who announced her retirement Friday.

One of just 13 women in the GOP conference, the four-term lawmaker had been heavily involved in recruiting and mentoring Republican women well before she was named recruitment chair this cycle for the National Republican Congressional Committee, a role she’ll keep despite not seeking re-election in 2020

Susan Brooks won’t seek a fifth term, opening up targeted Indiana seat
GOP congresswoman will stay on as recruitment chair for the NRCC for 2020

Rep. Susan W. Brooks, R-Ind., has decided not to seek another term in the House in 2020. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Susan W. Brooks — one of just 13 Republican women in the House — is not running for re-election in Indiana’s 5th District, a Democrat target in 2020.

“It’s a very, very personal decision — not really a political decision, as odd as that may sound,” Brooks told CQ Roll Call on Friday morning. She solidified her decision after spending time at the end of May in Alaska with her son, who recently moved there to teach.

All you need is ribs: Isakson barbecue brings hungry senators together
Leadership may have hated it at first, but the lunch is now a big hit

South 40 Smokehouse from Marietta, Ga., serves up brisket, pulled pork and ribs Thursday in the office of Sen. Johnny Isakson for his annual barbecue lunch. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The smell of pulled pork, Texas beef brisket, Saint Louis pork ribs, baked beans, and creamy mac and cheese wafting through the halls of the Russell Senate Office Building can mean only one thing: Johnny Isakson’s annual barbecue lunch.

Every year, for more than a decade, the senior senator from Georgia feeds his colleagues from both sides of the aisle a BBQ lunch prepared by a pitmaster from his home state. Despite being met with initial pushback from party leaders, the get-together has grown into a highly anticipated event.

Women senators ‘shame the guys to hurry up and vote’
Female lawmakers push their male colleagues to pick up the pace

Her female colleagues said it was Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s idea to shame their male colleagues into getting their business done in the time allotted. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The women of the United States Senate took their colleagues to task Wednesday for taking too long to vote.

In the middle of a vote series that typically would have appeared mundane— with members frequently leaving the floor during one vote and returning during the next, or sitting in the cloakroom on their cell phones — most of the women were seated at desks, calling for regular order in an attempt to speed up what have become increasingly long series.

Military bases unprepared for gathering climate change storm 
Responses to hurricanes, flooding already raising alarm bells in Congress and beyond

Months after Hurricane Michael struck Tyndall Air Force Base in October, the main hangar’s roof is badly damaged. (Elvina Nawaguna/CQ Roll Call file photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — A mangled red, white and blue patrol plane still lies across what was once a park here where families played and picnicked, nine months after Hurricane Michael stormed out of the Gulf of Mexico with its 155-mile-per-hour winds.

And beyond that wreckage and other detritus, about 300 of this Air Force base’s nearly 500 damaged buildings are slated to be razed. The Air Force wants at least $4.25 billion to rebuild Tyndall at its current location on the Florida panhandle, a process the 325th Fighter Wing commander, Col. Brian Laidlaw, said could take several years.

Trump denies climate change as his Pentagon prepares for it
CQ on Congress podcast, Episode 156

Former Navy Secretary Raymond Mabus, Jr., urges Congress to address climate change. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In this episode of CQ on Congress, former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus says President Trump's climate change denial risks an apocalyptic future that will stress the U.S. military. Ben Hulac, author of a forthcoming CQ magazine cover story on how climate change is affecting the Arctic, explains why that could create conflict between world powers.

A Trump administration review of mining bans has green groups worried
Environmental groups say they worry the report could give the White House a rationale for opening federal lands to new mineral extraction

U.S. Department of Commerce building in Washington. A new Commerce Department report has created worry among environmental groups, who say the report could give the Trump administration a rationale for opening federal lands to new mineral extraction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A Commerce Department report about U.S. reliance on foreign sources of minerals deemed essential for national security has stirred fears among environmental groups that the Trump administration may lift existing bans on new mining claims on public lands, including sites near the Grand Canyon.

Commerce recommended in the report released Tuesday that the Interior and Agriculture Departments complete a “thorough review” of all such bans — also called withdrawals — and develop “appropriate measures to reduce unnecessary impacts that they may have on mineral exploration, development and other activities.”

The 8 Senate races likely to determine control of the chamber
Two in states won by Clinton and six in states that backed Trump

How Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, deals with questions about her support for Supreme Court Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh will likely influence her re-election prospects, and, by extension, control of the Senate, Rothenberg writes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

ANALYSIS — The fight for the Senate starts off with only a handful of seats at risk. And that’s being generous.

A few other states are worth your attention because of their competitiveness or questions about President Donald Trump’s impact, but almost two-thirds of Senate contests this cycle start as “safe” for the incumbent party and are likely to remain that way.