A top House Democrat is urging the chamber’s GOP majority to hold a hearing on the West Virginia chemical spill that left hundreds of thousands of people unable to use tap water in recent days.
The request from Rep. Henry Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, shows that the accident will likely influence political battles over the scope of federal chemical regulation.
“Late last week, residents of nine counties in West Virginia learned that their water supply had been contaminated with a toxic chemical for which emergency responders and regulators had precious little information,” the California Democrat and a colleague said in a letter Monday.
“We are writing to request that you immediately schedule a hearing to examine the regulatory gaps that this incident has exposed in the nation’s toxic-chemical-control laws,” adds the letter from Waxman to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy.
A spokeswoman for Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans, in a statement, did not say directly whether a hearing would occur.
“The committee is actively monitoring the federal investigation and working to fully obtain the facts surrounding the situation,” spokeswoman Charlotte Baker said.
Efforts to toughen Environmental Protection Agency chemical oversight under the Toxic Substances Control Act have failed to advance on Capitol Hill for years, but some environmentalists are using the accident to revive calls to strengthen the law.
The letter from Waxman and Rep. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., urges Shimkus to hold a hearing on the spill and “its relevance to the committee’s consideration of TSCA reform legislation.”
West Virginia officials began lifting water use restrictions Monday, five days after a chemical used in coal processing called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol seeped into the Elk River from a plant in Charleston.
What We're Following See More »
In light of his recent confessions, the speakership of Dennis Hastert is being judged far more harshly. The New York Times' Carl Hulse notes that in hindsight, Hastert now "fares poorly" on a number of fronts, from his handling of the Mark Foley page scandal to "an explosion" of earmarks to the weakening of committee chairmen. "Even his namesake Hastert rule—the informal standard that no legislation should be brought to a vote without the support of a majority of the majority — has come to be seen as a structural barrier to compromise."
Even if "[t]he Republican presidential nomination may be in his sights ... Trump has so far ignored vital preparations needed for a quick and effective transition to the general election. The New York businessman has collected little information about tens of millions of voters he needs to turn out in the fall. He's sent few people to battleground states compared with likely Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, accumulated little if any research on her, and taken no steps to build a network capable of raising the roughly $1 billion needed to run a modern-day general election campaign."
Rep. Dave Young can't even refuse his own paycheck. The Iowa Republican is trying to make a point that if Congress can't pass a budget (it's already missed the April 15 deadline) then it shouldn't be paid. But, he's been informed, the 27th Amendment prohibits him from refusing his own pay. "Young’s efforts to dock his own pay, however, are duck soup compared to his larger goal: docking the pay of every lawmaker when Congress drops the budget ball." His bill to stiff his colleagues has only mustered the support of three of them. Another bill, sponsored by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), has about three dozen co-sponsors.
Sixty miles away, in Sandusky, Ohio. "We're pretty bitter about that," said Harmeet Dhillon, vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. "It sucks to be California, we're like the ugly stepchild. They need us for our cash and our donors, they don't need us for anything else."
Anyone looking forward to seeing some boldfaced names on the client list of the late Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the "DC Madam," will have to wait a little longer. "The Supreme Court announced Monday it would not intervene to allow" the release of her phone records, "despite one of her former attorneys claiming the records are “very relevant” to the presidential election. Though he has repeatedly threatened to release the records if courts do not modify a 2007 restraining order, Montgomery Blair Sibley tells U.S. News he’s not quite sure what he now will do."