Warren, Bullock spar over 'no first use' nuclear policy

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPoll: Beto O’Rourke leads 2020 Democrats in Texas by 3 points, followed by Biden Coalition to air anti-Medicare for All ads during Democratic debates Marianne Williamson: I am not a ‘wacky new-age nutcase’ MORE (D-Mass.) and Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockRacked by schism, Democrats yearn for Obama The Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate 2020 Democrats renew calls for gun reform after Gilroy shooting MORE (D) sparred Tuesday night over her proposed “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons during the Democratic debate.

In defending the proposed policy, Warren argued for diplomatic and economic solutions to conflict, saying “we should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.”

But Bullock opposed that proposal, saying, “I don’t want to turn around and say, ‘Well, Detroit has to be gone before we would ever use that.’”

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Warren is the lead sponsor of the Senate version of a bill that would make it U.S. policy not to use nuclear weapons first.

It has long been the policy of the United States that the country reserves the right to launch a preemptive nuclear strike.

Former President Obama reportedly weighed changing the policy before leaving office, but ultimately did not after advisers argued doing so could embolden adversaries.

Backers of a no first use policy argue it would improve U.S. national security by reducing the risk of miscalculation while still allowing the United States to launch a nuclear strike in response to an attack.

During the debate, Warren argued such a policy would “make the world safer.”

“The United States is not going to use nuclear weapons preemptively, and we need to say so to the entire world,” she said. “It reduces the likelihood that someone miscalculates, someone misunderstands.”

Bullock argued he wouldn’t want to take the option off the table, but that there should be negotiations to eliminate nuclear weapons.

“Never, I hope, certainly in my term or anyone else would we really even get close to pulling that trigger,” he said. “Going from a position of strength, we should be negotiating down so there aren’t nuclear weapons. But drawing those lines in the sand at this point, I wouldn’t do.”

Warren shot back that the world is closer to nuclear warfare after Trump’s presidency, which is seeing the end of a landmark arms control agreement with Russia, the development of a low-yield submarine-launched warhead and the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement.

“We don’t expand trust around the world by saying, ‘you know, we might be the first one to use a nuclear weapon,’” she said. “We have to have an announced policy that is one the entire world can live with.”

Bullock said he agreed on the need to return to nonproliferation standards but that unpredictable enemies such as North Korea require keeping first use as an option.

“When so many crazy folks are getting closer to having a nuclear weapon, I don’t want them to think, ‘I could strike this country,’” he said. “Part of the strength really is to deter.”

Buttigieg pledges Afghanistan withdrawal during first year in office

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegPoll: Beto O’Rourke leads 2020 Democrats in Texas by 3 points, followed by Biden Racked by schism, Democrats yearn for Obama Biden holds big lead over 2020 Democrats in two new national polls MORE, a veteran of the Afghanistan War, on Tuesday vowed to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan during his first year in office if elected president.

“We will withdraw. We have to,” Buttigieg said during Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

Pressed by CNN moderator Jake TapperJacob (Jake) Paul TapperThe Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate Sanders: Cummings fights every day to improve life in this country McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE about whether he would do so in his first year, Buttigieg replied, “Yes.”

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“Look, around the world, we will do whatever it takes to keep America safe, but I thought I was one of the last troops leaving Afghanistan when I thought I was turning out the lights years ago,” Buttigieg said.

“Every time I see news about somebody being killed in Afghanistan, I think about what it was like to hear an explosion over there and wonder whether it was somebody that I served with, somebody that I knew, a friend, roommate, colleague,” he added. “We’re pretty close to that day when we will wake up to the news of a casualty in Afghanistan who was not born on 9/11.”

The U.S. has about 14,000 troops fighting in the 18-year-old war on a dual mission of training, advising and assisting Afghan troops in their fight against the Taliban and conducting counterterrorism missions against groups such as ISIS.

On Monday, two U.S. troops were killed in what was reportedly an insider attack.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpProfessor installs seesaws across US-Mexico border to form connection ‘on both sides’ What the world can expect from the Boris Johnson government Marianne Williamson: I am not a ‘wacky new-age nutcase’ MORE has expressed a desire to withdraw from Afghanistan, and his administration is negotiating with the Taliban to that end.

Former President Obama also hoped to leave office having withdrawn from Afghanistan, but he repeatedly walked back his plans on the advice of military leaders.

On Tuesday, Buttigieg put forth specific details about what he would want to see in an updated authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).

U.S. officials have been relying on the 2001 AUMF that authorized the war in Afghanistan for a host of counterterrorism missions elsewhere in the world. Lawmakers in both parties agree the AUMF should be updated but have been unable to come to an agreement on what the new version would look like.

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Buttigieg said he would propose an AUMF that sunsets after three years.

“We need to talk not only about the need for a president committed to ending endless war but the fact that Congress has been asleep at the switch,” he said. “If men and women in the military have the courage to go serve, members of Congress ought to have to summon the courage to vote on whether they ought to be there.”

Changing climate boosts Maine lobster industry — for now

STONINGTON, Maine — Maine’s lobster industry has found itself in something of a climate change sweet spot.

The state’s coastal waters are still cold enough for lobster to thrive, but warming ocean temperatures are now encouraging them to settle here, mate and eventually shed their hard shells.

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That’s made the past few years some of the best on record for Maine lobstermen.

But those ideal conditions may be short-lived.

As ocean temperatures rise, lobster populations have been moving steadily north, prompting concerns among politicians, scientists and fishermen that Maine lobster will eventually become Canadian lobster.

“It’s hard to wrap your head around something that has given abundance in the fisheries, that the net effect could be devastation,” said Rep. Chellie PingreeRochelle (Chellie) PingreeHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment Overnight Energy: USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move west | EPA hails Trump’s work on reducing air pollution | Agency eyes reducing inspections of nuclear reactors USDA expected to lose two-thirds of research staff in move to Kansas City MORE (D-Maine), who lives in Penobscot Bay, home to the state’s most productive lobster territory.

Across the bay from Pingree’s hometown of North Haven sits Stonington, on an island just south of Acadia National Park. The scenery is stunning, but instead of tour boats passing between pine-lined islands, lobster boats dominate the waters.

Fishermen in Stonington bring in more lobster by weight than anywhere else in Maine. In a town with a population of about 1,100, there are at least 400 working boats.

But that ratio also illustrates how this small town, like many others up and down the Maine coast, would be devastated by a collapse of the lobster fishery as water temperatures in the Gulf of Maine rise faster than 99 percent of the world’s oceans.

“It’s not like this island like this can absorb 100 new carpenters,” said Carla Gunther, chief scientist at the Maine Center for  Coastal Fisheries in Stonington.

She and other scientists have been closely monitoring the lobster settlement index, which tracks where lobster larvae settle after being carried by ocean currents. One thing that’s become clear: Lobster population centers are slowly moving up the Atlantic Coast toward Canada.

And the warming waters aren’t just pushing lobsters to settle further northeast. The higher temperatures also provide more favorable conditions for predators of lobster and a shell disease that eats away at a lobster’s protective exoskeleton.

“Maine has enjoyed this abundant, expanding resource but everything that comes up must come down, and that is very related to climate change because that is very related to water temperature,” said Genevieve McDonald, a lobsterman and Stonington’s new representative in the Maine Legislature.

During her campaign, McDonald traveled to islands up and down midcoast Maine in her lobster boat Hello Darlings II, a nod to her twins, to discuss issues affecting the commercial fishing industry.

Many fishermen here say they’re not worried about climate change. Much like the boom-and-bust oil industry, they’re used to having good years and bad years. They expect the industry to tank once every seven years, and they save money to prepare for it.

What they are more worried about right now is whale migrations and the rising cost of bait.

A decline in the herring population has resulted in cuts to how many can be caught and ultimately used for bait. Meanwhile, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is considering a rule that would require fishermen to reduce the number of lines they have in the water so there are fewer hazards for migrating whales.

Fishermen see those as much bigger problems than climate change, but scientists say they are a result of it.

The dramatic warming of the Gulf of Maine and other bodies of water is changing the ecosystem, impacting the small plankton that are a source of food for both herring and whales. The whales are moving north into new territory, and Maine lobstermen are concerned they may have to decrease their lines to help protect migrating mammals they say they’ve never seen in these parts.

In Washington, Maine’s congressional delegation has been pushing to get more federal funding for research into the warming of the Gulf of Maine, but they’ve been frustrated by the lack of interest by the Trump administration.

“I’d like to see a recognition that this is a problem and we have to get after trying to find solutions,” Sen. Angus KingAngus Stanley KingAl Franken says he ‘absolutely’ regrets resigning Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Senate panel advances Pentagon chief, Joint Chiefs chairman nominees MORE (I-Maine) said of the administration and climate change. “The people closest to the earth see it — the lobsterman, the forester, the people that are out there in the natural environment. They don’t get involved in the debates of who causes it and what it is. They just know.”

Even within the Gulf of Maine, the warming pattern isn’t evenly distributed, leaving southwest Maine most at risk of becoming an undesirable environment for lobster.

Andrew Pershing, chief scientist for the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, said recent studies show changes in the fishing industry could be gradual.

If lobster numbers decline, he said, the figures will likely first return to what was considered normal in the area prior to record-breaking years in 2013 and 2016.

“The difference between old and new lobstermen is that new lobstermen have had nothing but making good money and don’t know what lean years are like,” said Henry Teverow, economic development director for the town of Stonington.

Tammy Hagerthy, of Stonington, has been working on lobster boats since she was a kid. She started on her grandfather’s boat, worked on her husband’s boat and now owns her own, a 26-footer called The Scallywag.

She said she’s not worried about climate change but thinks it might be a problem someday.

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“I feel bad for these young guys because when changes come and the water warms up, they’re not going to be able to afford these bills,” she said, citing payments for boats, gear and vehicles that can total thousands of dollars.

Lobstermen have a few options if the industry undergoes a prolonged downturn. If warming temperatures push lobster further offshore in search of colder water, the boats could follow them. But offshore fishing requires a separate license and oftentimes a larger boat.

They could also switch to fishing other species, though that often requires a significant investment in new equipment.

“I do try to not be all doom and gloom. Fishermen are resilient and we try to be adaptable,” McDonald said. “I think squid are going to be the first emerging fishery that has the population that can sustain commercial fishing pressure.”

Many lobstermen say climate change will likely be a challenge for future generations. But they’re optimistic it won’t mean the end of an industry that has sustained local economies for more than 150 years.

“If anything, it’s going to affect the grandchildren,” Hagerthy said. “But we’re all going to adapt to it. It might be our lobster season 30 years from now comes in January. Those lobster are still going to come, and they’re going to come when the temperature is right.”

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Hillicon Valley: Capital One faces investigation over massive breach | DHS warns of cyber vulnerability in small aircraft | Senate bill would ban 'addictive' social media features

Welcome to Hillicon Valley, The Hill’s newsletter detailing all you need to know about the tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. If you don’t already, be sure to sign up for our newsletter with this LINK.

Welcome! Follow the cyber team, Olivia Beavers (@olivia_beavers) and Maggie Miller (@magmill95), and the tech team, Harper Neidig (@hneidig) and Emily Birnbaum (@birnbaum_e).

 

SPOTLIGHT ON CAPITAL ONE: New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Tuesday that her office is opening an investigation into the Capital One data breach that resulted in the personal information of about 100 million American customers being illegally accessed.

“My office will begin an immediate investigation into Capital One’s breach, and will work to ensure that New Yorkers who were victims of this breach are provided relief,” James said in a statement. “We cannot allow hacks of this nature to become every day occurrences.”

Also on Tuesday, Capital One was hit with its first civil lawsuit in conjunction with the breach. According to The National Law Journal, one Connecticut resident filed suit against the company on behalf of all those impacted, claiming it failed to properly secure customer data. 

The beginning of the investigation comes one day after the Department of Justice announced that former Seattle-based software engineer Paige Thompson had been arrested in connection with the theft of personal information from servers storing Capital One data. 

Thompson posted on GitHub about her theft of the data earlier this month and another user who saw the post subsequently alerted Capital One of the issue, with Capital One then reaching out to the FBI, authorities said. Thompson was able to access the data due to a “misconfigured web application firewall,” according to the Justice Department. According to Capital One she accessed the data over two days in March. 

The breach allowed Thompson to access information including consumers’ names, some Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and other personal data. Capital One estimated that, in addition to American customers, Thompson was also able to access the data of around six million Canadians. 

Specifically, Capital One noted that around 14,000 Social Security numbers of credit card customers were accessed, and about 80,000 linked bank account numbers of secured credit card customers were compromised. For Canadian customers, around one million Social Security numbers were compromised. 

Read more here.

 

 

NOTHING IS SAFE: The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) cybersecurity agency issued a security alert on Tuesday warning of a cyber vulnerability in small aircraft that could enable malicious actors to change key readings on the planes.

The alert was issued after cybersecurity group Rapid7 reported to DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) that an aircraft’s Controller Area Network (CAN) bus system can be exploited by a cyber attacker if the hacker has physical access to the plane.

CISA warned that the hacker could attach a device to the aircraft’s CAN bus system that could “inject false data,” leading to incorrect readings.

Attackers could manipulate the plane’s altitude, airspeed and angle of attack data, CISA noted, adding that pilots would not be able to “distinguish between false and legitimate readings” and could lose control of the airplane.

Read more here.

 

OPEN FOR BUSINESS: Although Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei has been put on a trade blacklist by the U.S., its sales have been increasing.

Huawei’s half-year revenue increased 23 percent due to domestic smartphone sales, Reuters reported Tuesday. 

“Revenue grew fast up through May,” Huawei Chairman Liang Hua told reporters at a briefing before warning of possible difficulties ahead. 

“Given the foundation we laid in the first half of the year, we continue to see growth even after we were added to the entity list. That’s not to say we don’t have difficulties ahead. We do, and they may affect the pace of our growth in the short term,” Liang said.

The U.S. in May placed Huawei on its “Entity List” and officials have said the company’s ties to the Chinese Communist Party could allow it to spy in places where its hardware is present. Huawei has denied spying allegations. 

Read more here.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA ADDICTION NO MORE?: Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyGOP senator introduces bill banning ‘addictive’ social media features This week: Senate races to wrap up work before recess Romney to vote against budget deal: Agreement ‘perpetuates fiscal recklessness’ MORE (R-Mo.), a freshman who has emerged as a top Republican critic of major technology companies in Congress, on Tuesday will introduce a bill banning social media companies from building “addictive” features into their products.

Hawley’s Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act would make it illegal for social media platforms to hook users by offering them more content than they requested in order to get them to continue on their respective platforms.

The bill takes aim at practices specifically employed by the country’s top social networking sites — YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

For example, it would ban YouTube’s “autoplay” feature, which loads up new videos for users automatically; Facebook and Twitter’s “infinite scroll,” which allows users to continue scrolling through their homepages without limit; and Snapchat’s “streaks,” which reward users for continuing to send photos to their friends.

It would also require the companies to build “user-friendly” interfaces, with features allowing users to limit the amount of time they spend on the platform and offering reminders how much time they’ve spent perusing the site.

“Big tech has embraced a business model of addiction,” Hawley said in a statement. “Too much of the ‘innovation’ in this space is designed not to create better products, but to capture more attention by using psychological tricks that make it difficult to look away.”

Read more here. 

 

MORE ELECTION SECURITY: House Democrats introduced legislation Tuesday that would require campaigns to report any foreign contacts to federal authorities, the latest push for election security following last week’s warnings from former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’d like to know’ if Mueller read his own report MORE.

The measure — sponsored by Democratic Reps. Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats take another stab at preventing foreign election interference House Dems, Senate GOP build money edge to protect majorities Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal MORE (Mich.), Lauren UnderwoodLauren UnderwoodDemocrats take another stab at preventing foreign election interference Serena Williams, Mark Cuban invest in company working to end black maternal mortality Freshman members form bipartisan task force on election vulnerabilities ahead of 2020 MORE (Ill.), and Jason CrowJason CrowDemocrats take another stab at preventing foreign election interference House passes bills to boost small business cybersecurity Katherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent MORE (Colo.) — would mandate federal campaigns to inform the FBI and Federal Election Commission about any foreign contacts who attempt to donate funds or assist a candidate. Campaigns would also be required to implement a “compliance system” to monitor communication with those foreign contacts.

“Guarding our country against another attack on our political system should not be a partisan issue — it is a national security issue and it’s an American issue,” Slotkin said in a statement.

The bill will be referred to the House Administration Committee.

Election security is back in the spotlight after Mueller’s testimony before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees, during which he warned that Russia is working to interfere in the 2020 elections “as we sit here.”

Read more here. 

 

CUTS AT UBER: Uber will lay off 400 staffers from its marketing unit, about one-third of the department, The New York Times reported on Monday.

“We are not making these changes because Marketing has become less important to Uber,” CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in an email to staff provided to CNN Business. “The exact opposite is true: we are making these changes because presenting a powerful, unified, and dynamic vision to the world has never been more important.”

The ride-hailing company has been under increased financial pressure since a disappointing initial public offering in May. In the first three months of 2019, the company lost over $1 billion, according to earnings reports.

“There’s a general sense that while we’ve grown fast, we’ve slowed down,” Khosrowshahi said in the email.

Read more here.

 

 

ICYMI: SCHUMER CLAPS BACK: Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDe Blasio defends Al Sharpton amidst Trump attacks GOP chairman to move ‘swiftly’ on Ratcliffe nomination to intelligence post Sharpton: Trump has ‘particular venom’ for blacks, people of color MORE (D-N.Y.) urged Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats take another stab at preventing foreign election interference Collins is first GOP senator to back bill requiring campaigns report foreign assistance offers to FBI Trump says Washington Post should apologize to McConnell over ‘Russian asset’ column MORE (R-Ky.) to bring up election security legislation after the GOP leader lashed out at critics who targeted him for blocking two bills last week. 

“There’s an easy way for Leader McConnell to silence the critics who accuse him of blocking election security: stop blocking it. Leader McConnell doesn’t have to put the bills that we have proposed … or the bill the House has passed, there are bipartisan bills–and we can debate the issue,” Schumer said Monday from the Senate floor.

Schumer’s comments came after McConnell hit back at high-profile critics, accusing them of “lying” and “modern-day McCarthyism” after they targeted the GOP leader late last week when he blocked two election security bills that are largely supported by Democrats. 

Schumer asked for consent to pass a House bill, supported by one Republican, that would require paper ballots, while Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wanted to pass legislation that would require candidates, campaign officials and their family members to notify the FBI of assistance offers. McConnell blocked both of the bills. 

“These pundits are lying, lying when they dismiss the work that has been done. They’re lying when they insist I have personally blocked actions which, in fact, I have championed and the Senate has passed. They are lying when they suggest that either party is against defending our democracy,” McConnell said from the floor. 

Read more here.

 

A LIGHTER CLICK: The Fabbed Five.

 

NOTABLE LINKS FROM AROUND THE WEB: 

For Facebook and Alphabet, big-ticket fines cause limited pain. (The Wall Street Journal)

TikTok is exhibit A in Facebook’s “we’re no monopoly” case. (Axios)

Door Dash tip-skimming scheme prompts class action lawsuit seeking all those tips that didn’t go to drivers. (Gizmodo)

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No mention of Mueller, impeachment during second Democratic debate

Candidates onstage during the first night of the second Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday night made no mention of either former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’d like to know’ if Mueller read his own report MORE’s report or impeachment.

The 10 candidates onstage in Detroit were asked questions on a variety of issues such as health care, race, immigration, climate change and the economy, but they did not mention Mueller or the possible impeachment of President TrumpDonald John TrumpProfessor installs seesaws across US-Mexico border to form connection ‘on both sides’ What the world can expect from the Boris Johnson government Marianne Williamson: I am not a ‘wacky new-age nutcase’ MORE over roughly 2 ½ hours of debate, nor were they asked about either topic. There also was no talk of foreign interference in U.S. elections.

Mueller appeared on Capitol Hill last Wednesday to testify before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees about his 22-month investigation into Russia’s election interference. 

Mueller didn’t reveal much new information but confirmed key passages from his report, including the fact that he did not exonerate Trump on allegations of obstruction of justice. 

A number of House Democrats have come out in favor of opening an impeachment inquiry into Trump since last week, citing Mueller’s testimony.

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday went to court to petition for the release of grand jury material underlying Mueller’s report, with Chairman Jerrold NadlerJerrold (Jerry) Lewis NadlerDe Niro defends Mueller: ‘A calm, confident, dignified public servant’ Sunday shows – Democrats attack, Trump allies defend tweets hitting Cummings Trump allies defend attacks on Cummings amid Democratic denunciations MORE (D-N.Y.) saying it was necessary to decide whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Trump to the full House.

Mueller’s report documents a systematic effort by Russia to meddle in the 2016 election in favor of Trump over his Democratic opponent, Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump critics worry race-baiting tactics will work in 2020 Mueller hearings should lead Democrats to be shocked at abuse of justice system Trump leans into Baltimore controversy by criticizing Sharpton MORE.

The special counsel did not find sufficient evidence to charge members of the Trump campaign with conspiring with Russia to interfere in the election, though his report documents numerous contacts between campaign associates and Russia-linked figures and states that the campaign welcomed WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked Democratic emails.

Mueller’s report also lays out 10 episodes of potential obstruction of justice by Trump, including the president’s efforts to have his former White House counsel remove Mueller.

The special counsel did not ultimately reach a conclusion one way or another on obstruction of justice, saying the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion that a sitting president can’t be indicted precluded him from doing so. His report also pointedly states that the investigation does not “exonerate” Trump. 

Mueller’s investigation received plenty of media coverage over more than two years, and his long-awaited testimony on Capitol Hill last week was carried live on air by major networks. But Tuesday’s debate is an early sign that neither the investigation nor its results will be a major issue during the 2020 campaign.

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Mueller’s investigation was also only fleetingly mentioned during the first set of debates last month, before Mueller’s Capitol Hill testimony.

Trump has attacked Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt” and claimed the report and the former special counsel’s testimony vindicated him after two years of investigation. 

Judge dismisses DNC lawsuit against Trump campaign, Russia over election interference

A federal judge in New York on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) alleging that the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and the Russian government had conspired to interfere in the 2016 election.

Judge John Koeltl, a Clinton appointee, wrote in his ruling that the Trump officials were shielded from the allegations under the First Amendment. And he said that Russia could not be sued in the courts for the election interference but had to face actions such as sanctions instead.

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The ruling comes days after former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Kellyanne Conway: ‘I’d like to know’ if Mueller read his own report MORE testified before a pair of House committees, detailing his report on Russian meddling in the 2016 race.

Trump tweeted hours after the decision that the ruling was “yet another total & complete vindication & exoneration.”

“Wow! A federal Judge in the Southern District of N.Y. completely dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Committee against our historic 2016 campaign for President,” Trump tweeted.

“The Judge said the DNC case was ‘entirely divorced’ from the facts, yet another total & complete vindication & exoneration from the Russian, WikiLeaks and every other form of HOAX perpetrated by the DNC, Radical Democrats and others. This is really big ‘stuff’ especially coming from a highly respected judge who was appointed by President Clinton. The Witch Hunt Ends!”

The DNC did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit also targeted former Trump aides and advisers, like George PapadopoulosGeorge Demetrios PapadopoulosMueller hearings should lead Democrats to be shocked at abuse of justice system Mueller’s ignominious finale Mueller agrees lies by Trump officials impeded his investigation MORE and Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneProsecutors ask to air clip from ‘The Godfather Part II’ during Roger Stone trial The question isn’t whether Trump obstructed justice, but whether Congress even cares Key numbers to know for Mueller’s testimony MORE, and other figures linked to the campaign officials.

The lawsuit had pointed to a 2016 Trump Tower meeting among Trump campaign officials, including Donald Trump Jr.Donald (Don) John TrumpThe Hill’s Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats step up attacks ahead of Detroit debate Mueller’s ignominious finale Senate Intel finds ‘extensive’ Russian election interference going back to 2014 MORE They highlighted a Russian attempt to hack a DNC back-up server one day after the meeting as potential evidence of coordination.

Koeltl found in his ruling that while the DNC pointed to a number of contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians, it failed to provide evidence that the figures assisted in the hacking of the Democrats’ servers.

He said that he is “not required to accept conclusory allegations asserted as facts.”

“Those communications and that meeting took place after the Russian Federation had already hacked the DNC’s computer systems and, in any event, there is no allegation that the parties to those discussions talked about stealing the DNC’s information, or indeed about information that had been obtained from hacking the DNC’s computers or any information to be obtained from future hacking,” Tuesday’s opinion reads.

The judge in particular noted that it is not illegal to publish or promote stolen materials, like the documents hacked from the DNC, as long as those entities were not involved in the initial hacking.

“That the defendants might have used documents that had already been published by the Russian Federation and WikiLeaks is not an unlawful or improper use of the documents,” Koeltl wrote.

The Trump campaign had also asked Koeltl to sanction the DNC for continuing to pursue the lawsuit after the release of Mueller’s report earlier this year. The now-defunct special counsel’s office had found that there was no sufficient evidence to charge Trump campaign officials with conspiracy in assisting the Russians in the election interference.

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But the judge declined to do so, writing that the allegations in the lawsuit were not “so objectively unreasonable as to warrant the imposition of sanctions.”

“Nor was it so objectively unreasonable for the DNC to pursue its lawsuit after the Mueller Report was issued that sanctions should be imposed,” Koeltl wrote.

The DNC first filed its lawsuit in April 2018, and had filed two different and amended versions of the complaint since.

While Mueller has said that his report did not exonerate the president, Tuesday’s ruling is sure to fuel Trump and his allies’ claims that he has been cleared of any wrongdoing.

Updated 7:30 p.m.

Landmark US-Russia arms control treaty poised for final blow

The U.S. is about to officially toss out a 30-year-old arms control treaty credited with helping end the Cold War.
 
Friday marks the end of a six-month withdrawal period from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, after the Trump administration announced in February that the U.S. was leaving the pact. That means the U.S. will be freed from its obligations under the accord.
 
Now, all eyes are looking to see what comes next in U.S.-Russia arms control, with a particular focus on the administration’s preparations to move forward with previously banned weapons.
 
And that’s raising concerns among some Democrats that another Cold War-style arms race is on the horizon.
 
“The withdrawal without a follow-on is the invitation for an arms race,” said Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezHouse passes temporary immigration protections for Venezuelans Senate panel advances bipartisan bill to lower drug prices amid GOP blowback Democrats pledge to fight Trump detention policy during trip to border MORE (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “And Russia will clearly spend money on updating and amplifying its weapons systems. And the last thing we need is another arms race. So I’m hoping there can be some effort to move us in the right direction.”
 
The 1987 INF Treaty prohibited the U.S. and Soviet Union, and later Russia, from having nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 kilometers and 5,500 kilometers.
 
American officials have publicly accused Russia of breaching the treaty by fielding a new cruise missile, the 9M729, since the Obama administration. Trump’s announcement in February that the U.S. would withdraw from the pact followed numerous warnings to Russia and was not met with much surprise. Moscow has long denied violating the treaty and until last year, hadn’t acknowledged the missile’s existence.
 
Shortly after the Trump administration announced it was withdrawing from the treaty, Russia also said it would leave.
 
Experts see the dissolution of the INF as evidence of a broader departure from Soviet-era pacts that haven’t been flexible enough to keep pace with the evolving global security challenges in the decades following the fall of the Iron Curtain.
 
Frank Rose, who served as assistant secretary of State for arms control, verification and compliance during the Obama administration, argued the INF Treaty ultimately collapsed because it wasn’t able to respond to changes in the security environment in Eurasia, with countries like China fielding new arms capabilities.
 
“I see the INF’s demise as the latest installment in a larger story, and that’s the collapse of the U.S.-Russia bilateral strategic stability framework,” said Rose, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “These arms control treaties have not kept up to the changes to the security environment.”
 
In Congress, administration critics say they are looking for signs Trump officials have an arms control plan to fill the void.
 
“I do understand the Russians are violating the treaty. I don’t want to see us simply pull out and not try to negotiate something else because another arms race doesn’t serve anybody,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithYoung Democrats look to replicate Ocasio-Cortez’s primary path The House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort Overnight Defense: Esper officially nominated for Defense secretary | Pentagon silent on Turkey getting Russian missile system | House, Senate headed for clash over defense bill MORE (D-Wash.) said. “I am worried that we don’t seem to have a path forward on an arms control discussion with Russia, or with China for that matter, and that the administration seems unwilling to move forward on that path.”
 
With the INF Treaty ending, just one major arms control agreement between the U.S. and Russia remains: the New START Treaty.
 
New START, negotiated by the Obama administration, caps the number of deployed nuclear warheads each country can have at 1,550.
 
John BoltonJohn Robert BoltonTrump scolded three biggest US airlines in private meeting: report The Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate What will the next US ambassador to UN do with peacekeeping? MORE, Trump’s national security adviser and skeptic of arms control agreements, has signaled the administration is unlikely to renew New START, which is up for renewal in 2021.
 
The administration has indicated it wants to expand the scope of the treaty as a condition of extension, by taking steps such as folding in China and other weapons not currently covered by the agreement.
 
To that end, earlier this month, a U.S. delegation met with Russian officials in Geneva to discuss “the president’s vision for a new direction in nuclear arms control with Russia and China,” the State Department said at the time.
 
Arms control advocates fear the administration is using China as a red herring to abandon New START. China is unlikely to agree to join the agreement and, in any case, is known to have far fewer nuclear weapons than the treaty allows, advocates argue.
 
“The collapse of the INF Treaty makes an extension of New START all the more important in my view,” said Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association. “Pursuit of a broader agreement with Russia and China is a worthwhile objective, but not at the expense of extending New START, and so far, the administration doesn’t appear to have a plan or the capacity to negotiate a new, more comprehensive deal.”
 
Trump ally Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischOvernight Defense: Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sales | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan | Senators tee up nominations, budget deal ahead of recess Senate fails to override Trump veto on Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense: General accused of sexual assault to get confirmation hearing | Senate to vote Monday on overriding Saudi arms deal veto | Next Joint Chiefs chair confirmed | Graham tries to ease Turkey tensions MORE (R-Idaho), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he does not see INF and New START as linked, but that there is “plenty of pressure on New START already.”
 
More immediately, the U.S. and Europe are preparing for a post-INF world.
 
Experts generally agree with the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from INF given Russia’s years of flouting its obligations. But they’ve criticized how Trump announced his intention to do so last at a campaign rally October, saying it didn’t put the blame squarely on Russia and left U.S. allies in the dark.
 
Rose said he has concerns over whether the administration can manage the withdrawal from the treaty and future arms control negotiations.
 
“The key question now that the treaty will die on Friday is this: Does the Trump administration have the diplomatic skills to manage the treaty’s demise in a way that maintains the cohesion of our allies, maintains a level of stability with Russia in the mid- to near-term, and facilitates the transition from the currently stability framework?
 
“I think the jury is out whether they have the diplomatic skills and the team in place to effectively do it,” he added.
 
The Guardian reported earlier this month that the State Department arms control office has been reduced from 14 staffers to four since the Trump administration began.
 
The U.S. and NATO have conferred several times since Trump’s October comments created anxiety among American allies, with NATO eventually backing the decision to withdraw.
 
Still, NATO has made clear it does not want U.S. nuclear missiles that violate the treaty being stationed on European soil. Options that NATO has discussed include more military exercises; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air and missile defense; and unspecified conventional capabilities.
 
“We will not mirror what Russia does,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last month. “We do not want a new arms race, but as Russia is deploying new missiles, we must ensure that our deterrence and defense remain credible and effective. This is NATO’s job.”
 
The Pentagon said in March it plans to flight-test a non-nuclear cruise missile with a potential range of 1,000 kilometers in August.
 
Asked Tuesday for an update on the status of the test, the Pentagon did not directly comment, but said “it appears that the INF Treaty will terminate on August 2, 2019, as a result of Russia’s material breach.”
 
“Russia has not taken any meaningful steps to return to verifiable compliance with its obligations,” Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Carla Gleason said in an email to The Hill. “After the treaty ends on August 2, 2019, the United States will no longer be under the INF Treaty prohibitions on possession, production, and flight-testing of ground-launched, intermediate-range cruise and ballistic missiles.”
 
The Pentagon has requested $10 million in its fiscal 2020 budget to develop missile systems within the INF Treaty range.
 
House Democrats, however, are hoping to block the Pentagon from moving forward with the missiles. The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes an amendment that prohibits funding for the missiles unless certain conditions are met.
 
The bill must be reconciled with the Senate’s version, where Republicans are vowing to strip the amendment.
 
“You don’t have a treaty when you only have one party adhering to it. The Russians haven’t for years,” said Sen. Deb FischerDebra (Deb) Strobel FischerGOP senator introduces bill banning ‘addictive’ social media features Overnight Defense: Esper sworn in as Pentagon chief | Confirmed in 90-8 vote | Takes helm as Trump juggles foreign policy challenges | Senators meet with woman accusing defense nominee of sexual assault Lobbying World MORE (R-Neb.), who chairs the Senate Armed Services subcommittee with oversight of nuclear weapons. “I hope the Senate NDAA is adopted because it’s the one that needs to happen.”

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GOP trying to shore up support on budget deal

Senate Republican leadership is racing to lock down GOP votes for a massive two-year budget and debt ceiling deal that needs to pass before lawmakers leave for the August recess.

Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneRising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump’s intel chief House passes anti-robocall bill GOP leaders struggle to contain conservative anger over budget deal MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican senator, indicated on Tuesday that they didn’t yet have a majority of Republicans on board to support the agreement but were working to get there before it gets a vote.

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“Well, we’re in the process of working that vote. I’m hopeful and optimistic that when the time comes that we’ll have the votes we need to get it done,” Thune told reporters when asked if they would have the support of at least half the Republican conference.

The push to shore up Republican support for the two-year budget agreement, which also suspends the debt ceiling through mid-2021, comes after House Republicans defected in droves to oppose President TrumpDonald John TrumpProfessor installs seesaws across US-Mexico border to form connection ‘on both sides’ What the world can expect from the Boris Johnson government Marianne Williamson: I am not a ‘wacky new-age nutcase’ MORE‘s budget deal when it came up for a vote last week.

Sixty-five House Republicans supported the agreement, while 132 voted against it. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats take another stab at preventing foreign election interference Collins is first GOP senator to back bill requiring campaigns report foreign assistance offers to FBI Trump says Washington Post should apologize to McConnell over ‘Russian asset’ column MORE (R-Ky.) stressed the need to pass the budget agreement as well as a final slate of nominations before the chamber leaves Washington until early September. 

“Everybody understands what the list of items that need to be completed are, and we will do that before we leave. There will be no departure until we finish all the items on our agenda,” McConnell told reporters during a weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill’s Morning Report — Mueller day finally arrives Trump, Democrats clinch two-year budget deal The Hill’s Morning Report: Trump walks back from ‘send her back’ chants MORE (R-Ala.) said he thought the budget deal would pass but warned there would be “chaos” if it didn’t.

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Asked if it would be politically embarrassing for Trump if a majority of Republicans opposed a deal he had endorsed, Shelby demurred.

“Politically embarrassing? That’s a strong word,” he said. “I would wish all the Republicans would join in and all the Democrats, but that never happens. Would it be politically embarrassing? As long as we win it won’t be embarrassing. If they fail to pass that bill, it would be a huge setback for everybody.”

The Senate is expected to vote on the budget agreement as soon as Wednesday. Sixteen Republicans voted against a 2018 budget deal. 

More than a dozen Senate Republicans have said they will vote against the current budget deal, with several others indicating they are leaning against it but haven’t made up their minds. 

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenators offer bipartisan proposal allowing new parents to advance tax credits The Hill’s Morning Report – Crunch time for 2020 Democrats in Detroit debate Overnight Defense: General accused of sexual assault to get confirmation hearing | Senate to vote Monday on overriding Saudi arms deal veto | Next Joint Chiefs chair confirmed | Graham tries to ease Turkey tensions MORE (R-Fla.) announced on Monday night that he was a no vote, saying, “In a town in which Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on anything, the one thing they can agree on is running up the debt and spending a bunch of money.” 

Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) said on Tuesday that he was also a no vote because the agreement “continues our deficit spending without much of an effort, if any, to try to save money.”

New Jersey law giving terminally ill patients the right to end their lives goes into effect this week

A law allowing physicians to provide lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients who want to die will go into effect in New Jersey this week.

The state’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act is slated to go into effect on Thursday, Aug. 1, four months after New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed the legislation into law.

“Allowing residents with terminal illnesses to make end-of-life choices for themselves is the right thing to do,” Murphy said in a statement at the time. “By signing this bill today, we are providing terminally ill patients and their families with the humanity, dignity, and respect that they so richly deserve at the most difficult times any of us will face.”

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Adults with a medical prognosis of six months or less to live will be allowed to access a prescription for life-ending medication, CBS New York reported.

A psychiatrist or psychologist will need to determine if the patient has the mental capacity to make the voluntary decision. The patient must also request the medication twice and be offered the chance to change their mind. 

The legislation passed the state Assembly, 41-33, and the state Senate with a 21-16 vote.

There are several other states with “right to die” law on the books, including Colorado, Hawaii, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state and the District of Columbia.

Maine became the eighth state to legalize medically assisted suicide when Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed the Maine Death with Dignity Act, which will go into effect in September.

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Overnight Energy: Harris, Ocasio-Cortez unveil first step of Green New Deal | Inslee proposes environmental justice office | Democrat pushes FDA to act after 'forever chemicals' found in bottled water

ALL THE ENVIRONMENT POLICIES:

Getting started on the Green New Deal: Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisFormer public defender: DOJ plan to resume federal executions a ‘recipe for problems’ New York governor signs bill decriminalizing marijuana use 2020 Democrats renew calls for gun reform after Gilroy shooting MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOvernight Energy: Harris, Ocasio-Cortez unveil first step of Green New Deal | Inslee proposes environmental justice office | Democrat pushes FDA to act after ‘forever chemicals’ found in bottled water Climate policy is expensive, but so is climate change Harris, Ocasio-Cortez unveil first step of Green New Deal MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday unveiled legislation that would be the first step toward implementing the Green New Deal.

The draft bill is designed to address what the lawmakers describe as the third pillar of the Green New Deal — ensuring no community gets left behind.

Dubbed the Climate Equity Act, the legislation lays out steps for Congress and the White House to “guarantee that the policies comprising a future Green New Deal protect the health and economic wellbeing of all Americans for generations to come.”

“Climate change is an existential threat — it’s critical we act now to achieve a cleaner, safer, and healthier future. But it is not enough to simply cut emissions and end our reliance on fossil fuels. We must ensure that communities already contending with unsafe drinking water, toxic air, and lack of economic opportunity are not left behind,” Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate, said in a statement.

The Green New Deal, championed by Ocasio-Cortez, would push for a massive shift in the economy away from fossil fuels and toward more environmentally friendly sources of energy, something she said will spur economic development along the way.

The legislation introduced Monday would require the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office to evaluate how new environmental bills would impact low-income communities. Projects pushed by the executive branch would face a similar review under the measure.

The legislation could help make Harris more competitive in a 2020 Democratic field full of candidates eagerly sharing their plans for tackling climate change.

Harris has yet to release a sweeping proposal of her own, and other candidates have put forth plans that target what’s known as environmental justice, which focuses on how environmental issues affect poor communities and communities of color.

The draft bill from Harris and Ocasio-Cortez would create an Office of Climate and Environmental Justice Accountability to help represent the views of “frontline communities.”

Read more on the first step in the Green New Deal here.

 

And another proposal for a new agency: Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeInslee proposes opening environmental justice office 2020 Dems hammer Trump over Cummings attacks Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument MORE, a 2020 Democratic contender, is proposing to open an office of environmental justice if he is elected president.

Under the policy offered by Inslee on Monday, the new agency would be committed to solving climate-related injustice typically seen in disenfranchised and low-income communities.

It’s the latest in a series of climate policies offered by Inslee, who has sought to lead the Democratic field on the issue. The latest proposal comes the day before Democrats will begin two days of debates in Detroit.

Inslee would turn the White House Council on Environmental Quality into the Council on Environmental Justice. The new council would then lay out what communities are the most at risk to exposure to toxic chemicals and pollution.

Inslee’s plan includes investment in front-line communities, or neighborhoods located close to power plants and manufacturers that often witness the negative effects of emissions first-hand. 

His plan includes a guarantee that $1.2 trillion of his climate policy’s overall clean energy investments would go straight to low-income communities. It would also create an energy fund to help low-income families pay their energy bills. Low-income people are the most likely to experience pricing spikes if the U.S. switches to more renewable energy or a carbon tax.

Inslee’s plan mirrors a thematic message seen from the progressive left on issues of climate change — that economics, racial injustice and climate action are all linked. Like the Green New Deal touted by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie SandersBernie Sanders2020 Democrats renew calls for gun reform after Gilroy shooting Inslee proposes opening environmental justice office Trump says Sanders should be labeled a racist for remarks on Baltimore MORE (I-Vt), another presidential candidate, Inslee’s plan aims to limit pollution and carbon emissions by helping the poor.

“The facts are clear: climate change and pollution disproportionately harm low-income communities and communities of color, and are major contributors to ongoing economic and racial inequality,” Inslee’s plan states. “For decades, corporate polluters have used lower-income communities as dumping grounds, and these communities now face an enormous and unequal burden from the costs of pollution and climate change.”

Inslee has been developing his plan, the last leg in a five-part series of climate action proposals, for months.

His campaign said it has worked closely with environmental justice groups to develop the proposal, including a listening session with leaders of several groups at the Netroots Nation national political action conference in Philadelphia earlier this year. Inslee was a keynote speaker at the event.

Read more on Inslee’s plan here.

 

HAPPY MONDAY! And welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill’s roundup of the latest energy and environment news. 

Please send tips and comments to Miranda Green, mgreen@thehill.com and Rebecca Beitsch, rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow us on Twitter: @mirandacgreen, @rebeccabeitsch and @thehill.

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BOTTLED UP: A Democratic senator is pushing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to limit contaminants in drinking water after so-called forever chemicals surfaced in bottled water.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) urged the agency in a Monday letter to set a drinking water standard for a class of chemicals abbreviated as PFAS whether they are found in bottled or tap water.

PFAS, known as forever chemicals due to their persistence in the environment, have leached into the water supply after years of use in a wide range of products like teflon pans, raincoats and firefighting foam. The substance has been linked with numerous health issues, including some types of cancer.

Lawmakers have been pushing various agencies to deal with PFAS contamination, but those calls have largely been focused on contamination at military bases and on pressuring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a limit on how much of the substance can be present in drinking water.

Blumenthal’s letter to the FDA calls for help from an agency often on the sidelines of contamination issues despite its purview over food and bottled water.

“Given the widespread persistence of PFAS in our environment and drinking water, many people have turned to bottled water to avoid adding toxins to their bodies. In light of this, it is especially concerning that bottled water may contain PFAS in unsafe concentrations. My constituents, as well as many other Americans, continue to be exposed to these toxic substances. I urge the FDA act expeditiously to tackle this national crisis in consultation with other federal agencies,” Blumenthal wrote.

His letter was spurred by reports earlier this month that PFAS was found in bottled water from the Spring Hill Farm Dairy in Massachusetts, leading the state to issue a health advisory for pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants.

A spokesman for the FDA said the agency would respond directly to Blumenthal. 

The EPA currently recommends drinking water not have more than 70 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS, but it is not a requirement. Blumenthal is asking the FDA to require the products it oversees not have more than 70 ppt of PFAS and to limit two specific forms of PFAS to under 15 ppt.

Read more here.

 

OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY: 

-Ethanol vs. environment: Democratic hopefuls campaign on clashing agendas, Reuters reports

-First big U.S. offshore wind project hits snag due to fishing-industry concerns, Reuters reports

-Columbia Gas to pay $143 million to Massachusetts communities in explosions settlement, The Washington Post reports

 

ICYMI:

Stories from Monday and over the weekend…

-Warren targets corporate power with plan to overhaul trade policy

-Harris, Ocasio-Cortez unveil first step of Green New Deal

-Democrat pushes FDA to act after ‘forever chemicals’ found in bottled water

-Inslee proposes opening environmental justice office

-Swedish teen Greta Thunberg to sail across Atlantic for climate activism

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