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Disputed butane tax credit could cost nearly $50 billion
Estimate from Joint Committee on Taxation could give stalled tax extenders talks new urgency

Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, told two committees that refiner claims to tax credits for butane blends could cost nearly $50 billion. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Treasury now stands to take a $49.9 billion hit if oil refiners prevail in their claims that gasoline mixed with butane qualifies as an alternative fuel eligible for a 50 cents per gallon federal tax credit.

The new estimate was revealed in a letter sent Wednesday from Thomas Barthold, chief of staff to the Joint Committee on Taxation, to attorneys for the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees.

‘Remain in Mexico’ policy faces internal critiques at House hearing
Migration Protection Protocols spurs human rights violations, an asylum officer told Homeland Security panel

A Customs and Border Protection agent processes migrants who recently crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector of Texas in August. (Jinitzail Hernández/CQ Roll Call)

The Migrant Protection Protocols, a program that has so far forced more than 57,000 migrants to wait in Mexico while their immigration cases wind through the court, is illegal and enables human rights abuses against the vulnerable, a Department of Homeland Security employee told lawmakers Tuesday.

“These policies are illegal, they’re immoral, and they’re the basis for human rights abuses on behalf of our nation," Michael Knowles, president of a union that represents U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees and a longtime asylum officer, said in his testimony to a House Homeland Security panel.

Republicans abandon tradition of whistleblower protection at impeachment hearing
Efforts to out the Ukraine whistleblower could have a chilling effect, put U.S. security at risk, experts say

From left, Chairman Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., ranking member Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., and minority counsel Steve Castor attend the House Intelligence Committee hearing on the impeachment inquiry of President Trump in Longworth Building on Tuesday, November 19, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On Oct. 8, Alan Souza, the lead Republican lawyer on the House Intelligence Committee, wrote an email to Mark Zaid, the lawyer representing the person who first anonymously disclosed concerns that President Donald Trump was pressuring Ukraine for his own political gain.

In the email, Souza assured Zaid that the panel “always maintains the confidentiality of the whistleblower,” according to a reference to the email in a Nov. 6 letter to the committee from Zaid’s law firm that is reproduced on its website.

DeFazio wants to go big on infrastructure despite hurdles
Plan embraces automated vehicles and intelligent transportation roadways

House Transportation Committee chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., is pushing an ambitious bill that could help House Democrats show they are trying to do big things beyond impeachment (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Democrats are renewing their push for a major infrastructure bill without the support they once hoped to get from President Donald Trump.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Oregon, presented a comprehensive infrastructure plan during a closed-door meeting of House Democrats late Thursday. The legislation is still being drafted, he said, and he declined to offer any cost estimates.

Trump's Energy nominee bats away questions about Perry and Ukraine
Brouillette also tells confirmation hearing about mining potential of the Arctic

Dan Brouillette, nominee to be Secretary of Energy, walks to the witness table after speaking with committee members before the start of his confirmation hearing Thursday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump’s nominee to become secretary of Energy distanced himself Thursday from the House impeachment inquiry of the president, telling senators he does not have direct knowledge of efforts to overhaul the board of a Ukrainian government-owned energy firm.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Dan Brouillette, the No. 2 at DOE, said he was aware Secretary Rick Perry met with people interested in changing the corporate structure of Naftogaz, the Ukrainian company.

Lawmakers aim to thwart Amtrak forced-arbitration policy
New rule prevents lawsuits over injuries or deaths of passengers in rail accidents

Emergency crews at the scene of an Amtrak train derailment that killed three people in December 2017 near DuPont, Wash. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Lawmakers are in the initial stages of determining whether they can prevent Amtrak from implementing a forced arbitration policy that would bar passengers from suing if they’re hurt or killed in crashes.

Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, said Wednesday that he was trying to determine how best to stop the government-supported passenger rail service from imposing the forced arbitration policy on customers. Amtrak began imposing the policy in January.

Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief
Wolf takes over just hours after Senate confirmed him as undersecretary

Chad Wolf is the fifth person to lead the Department of Homeland Security in less than three years. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Chad Wolf was sworn in Wednesday as acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, the fifth person to head the agency in the Trump administration.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed Wolf's new position to CQ Roll Call by email.

Turkish NBA star Enes Kanter to visit Capitol Hill ahead of Erdogan visit
Boston Celtics center has called the Turkish leader the 'Hitler of our century'

NBA center Enes Kanter meets with Rep. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y. (courtesy of @EnesKanter / Twitter)

As President Donald Trump prepares to receive Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for a Wednesday state visit at the White House, NBA player Enes Kanter, an outspoken critic of Erdogan, is scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill.

The Boston Celtics center plans to join Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton in the Capitol Visitor Center for a panel discussion Tuesday afternoon on protecting America’s Syrian Kurdish allies.

Lawmakers: Southwest flying 49 jets that don’t meet FAA standards
Paperwork to assure safety was overlooked in planes airline bought overseas

A Southwest Airlines jet parked at Boeing's Renton, Wash., factory. (Photo by Gary He/Getty Images)

Southwest Airlines is flying 49 aircraft despite concerns that they do not comply with mandatory federal safety standards, according to documents released by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

At issue are 88 Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s previously operated by 16 different foreign air carriers between 2013 and 2017. None of the aircraft are the 737 Max model, which has been grounded by the FAA after two fatal crashes.

As states with legal weed embrace vaping bans, black-market risks linger
Health officials are still puzzling over why some who vape come down with a severe respiratory illness

THC vape cartridges are a popular product in Washington's legal marijuana shops. A new ban on flavored versions of marijuana and nicotine vaping products recently went into effect across the state and will remain in place at least four months. (Photo by Will Stone)

By Will Stone, Kaiser Health News

Cannabis shops around Washington state are now required to hang signs warning customers of “severe lung injuries” and “deaths” associated with vaping.