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At the Races: Cooking with gas

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No, the government isn’t going to walk into America’s kitchens and cart away gas stoves.  

But when Consumer Product Safety Commissioner Richard Trumka said earlier this week that the independent agency would consider regulating new gas appliances, he ignited a firestorm of fury. Most of the heat was generated by Republicans, many of whom represent states that produce natural gas.

“The Biden Admin’s weaponization of the federal bureaucracy and faux science hit fever-pitch today with news that bureaucrats now want to BAN GAS STOVES,” Troy Balderson, a Republican from Ohio, tweeted. “FACT: Natural gas is green, clean, and safe!”

Critics circulated photos showing first lady Jill Biden and New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez using gas stoves.

California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said he is writing the Guard America’s Stoves — or GAS — Act to stave off further regulatory attempts.

At least one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, weighed in, tweeting that “the federal government has no business telling Americans how to cook their dinner.” 

Consumer Product Safety Commission Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric sought to turn down the controversy by pointing out that any regulations would apply only to new stoves. 

But Balderson and many of his GOP colleagues weren’t ready to abandon the issue. “They won’t come after your existing gas stove, just potentially ban you from buying one in the first place… Got it,” he tweeted.

Gas stoves, used daily by millions of Americans, emit nitrogen oxide, fine particulate matter and other pollution that, without proper ventilation, can raise indoor concentrations to unsafe levels, explains our colleague, David Jordan. Researchers have linked pollution from gas stoves to higher rates of childhood asthma.

Some Democratic-controlled jurisdictions have passed bans on new gas hookups. But for many Republicans, any suggestion of new regulations on fossil fuel-fired appliances is “woke garbage,” in the words of Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs.

Though the great gas stove war was over before it ever really started, Texas Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson launched a fundraising appeal based on the false claim that “Biden and the Democrats want to ban gas stoves in every home, including yours.”

Texas is the top producer of natural gas in the nation, accounting for 25 percent of the nation’s marketed natural gas production. 

But not everyone in Texas agrees. “Republicans all over Twitter lying and being dishonest over gas stoves!” Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey of Texas tweeted.   “Desperate for the American public to forget abt the Speaker’s race debacle that the radical reckless Republican Freedom Caucus took the country thru!”

Starting gate

OK, boomers: CQ Roll Call’s Paul V. Fontelo looked at the changing demographics of Congress and found that baby boomers are losing ground. Around 48.5 percent of the representatives, senators and delegates come from the baby boom generation, compared with Gen Xers, who now account for more than a third of the 118th, according to an analysis of lawmakers’ birthdays. Millennials have jumped to 10.2 percent.

New maps: A three-judge panel in South Carolina ordered the state to draw new lines for the 1st District before any more elections are held, ruling that the district had an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, CQ Roll Call’s Michael Macagnone reports. 

In the spotlight: The protracted speaker debate offered a rare opportunity for brand-new lawmakers, such as Michigan’s John James and Juan Ciscomani of Arizona, to give speeches on the House floor, fueling speculation about future ambitions.

Peters round two: Michigan Sen. Gary Peters will stay at the helm of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 2024 cycle, which features a map that is more politically difficult for his party. Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith and California Sen. Alex Padilla will serve as vice chairs.

Santos saga: It’s been another week of bad headlines for New York Rep. George Santos, who faced calls to resign from fellow freshman Rep. Anthony D’Esposito and other New York Republicans. After saying Wednesday that he would not step down, Santos reportedly said Thursday he would resign if 142,000 people (roughly the number of 3rd District voters who cast ballots for him) ask for him to. An ethics group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over his campaign finance disclosures while a pair of New York House Democrats requested a House Ethics Committee investigation into his financial disclosures. 

‘A hell of an opposition party:’ The Congressional Progressive Caucus starts 2023 with a bigger roster, a bolder agenda and a commitment to promoting workers’ rights, immigration and solutions to the climate crisis. But most of its ambitious agenda is unlikely to come to fruition in a chamber controlled by Republicans. Instead, the caucus plans to press the Biden administration for executive action on a number of issues.

Senate race, here I come: Democratic Rep. Katie Porter said she’s running for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat in California next year, without waiting for the 79-year-old Feinstein to say she won’t be running herself. Fellow Democratic Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Barbara Lee are also weighing whether to run. Lee said she has no timeline for an announcement after speaking with Feinstein about the race. Former Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda said he’d run for Porter’s seat in the House. Republican Scott Baugh, who almost ousted Porter in November, is running again.

Senate seat, here I come: His successor made it official Thursday morning: Former Gov. Pete Ricketts will fill the Senate seat that Sen. Ben Sasse gave up for academia. Ricketts will serve until at least 2024, when there will be an election for the remaining two years of Sasse’s term.

ICYMI

New ads: The National Republican Senatorial Committee is out with three new ads aimed at vulnerable Democrats from states that President Joe Biden lost in 2020. “These red state Democrats have a choice to make: Retire or face a brutal two years in which they will be held accountable for backing Biden’s disastrous agenda,’’ NRSC Chairman Steve Daines said of the ads, which target Sens. Manchin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana.

Money committees: A few freshmen Republicans from battleground districts secured slots this week on plum fundraising committees for the 118th Congress. New York’s Mike Lawler, Iowa’s Zach Nunn and Texas’ Monica De La Cruz will serve on the Financial Services panel, while Ciscomani will serve on Appropriations. Lawmakers often leverage these “A-list” panels for fundraising from the corporate and K Street set.  

Kunce runs again: Missouri Democrat Lucas Kunce launched his campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Josh Hawley on Friday, the two-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol. The symbolism was intentional. Kunce’s opening campaign video depicts Hawley’s raised fist gesture toward the pro-Trump protesters who descended on Washington to object to the certification of Biden’s election. Kunce ran for the open Missouri seat vacated by Sen. Roy Blunt in 2022 but lost the Democratic primary to former nurse and Anheuser-Busch heir Trudy Busch Valentine, who went on to lose to Republican Eric Schmitt.

Davis’ new gig: Former Illinois Republican Rep. Rodney Davis, who lost in a primary last year to Rep. Mary Miller, has joined the lobbying outfit Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies as a managing director. “I’m eager for the opportunity to carry on my public policy work,” Davis, who faces a yearlong ban on lobbying the legislative branch, said in a news release. 

Primary calendar: Georgia Democrats have more time to meet requirements set by the Democratic National Committee to move into the slate of states to hold the first presidential nominating contests in 2024, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that they still face difficult odds for doing so. New Hampshire Democrats also face steep odds to meeting the DNC’s requirements for remaining in the early group. 

Transition fumbles: North Carolina Rep. Chuck Edwards said that his predecessor, former Rep. Madison Cawthorn, did not transfer any official constituent casework, as is customary in the transition period, and asked 11th District residents to get in touch regarding any outstanding work. 

VA special: Democrat Aaron Rouse was leading Republican Kevin Adams in a special election to fill the Virginia Senate seat previously held by GOP Rep. Jen Kiggans, 50.4 percent to 49.5 percent, with .09 percent of voters writing in a candidate as of Thursday morning. Rouse claimed victory on Tuesday, and his win would expand a Democratic majority in the chamber, giving the party another vote against potential abortion restrictions pushed by GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin. 

He’s running, again: Republican Joe Kent filed paperwork Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission to run again in Washington’s 3rd District, a heavily GOP-leaning district that the controversial candidate lost to Democratic Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez in November. Republican former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler lost reelection for the seat in an all-party primary last year, finishing third behind Kent. In Washington state, the top two candidates from the primary advance to the general election. 

From Congress to campus: Some former members have temporarily set up in academia. Former Michigan GOP Rep. Peter Meijer, who lost in a primary last year, is among the new crop of fellows at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. Former Virginia Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, who lost her reelection race in November, has joined Georgetown’s Institute of Politics.  

A question of ethics: The campaign finance overhaul group End Citizens United filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics, asking for an investigation of Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s possible interactions with an outside super PAC. The Congressional Leadership Fund, which is aligned with House GOP leadership, said it would not spend money in open seat primaries in GOP House districts as a condition for support for McCarthy’s speaker bid from the conservative Club for Growth. 

What we’re reading

Watts departs: The Washington Post assesses the political and policy legacy of gun safety advocate Shannon Watts, who announced this week that she’s stepping down from Moms Demand Action. Watts launched the group from her home in Indiana following the killing of 20 first graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. in 2012.

History made: Female lawmakers will lead both House and Senate appropriations committees for the first time, prompting The 19th to ask whether they will be able to break through the partisan gridlock more effectively than their male predecessors.

RIP: Colleagues and friends remembered Blake Hounshell, a former Politico editor who was most recently the New York Times’ “On Politics” editor, who died this week at age 44. 

Attack on democracy?: “Two years ago, extremists attacked the physical citadel of democracy,” former CQ Roll Call columnist Eliza Newlin Carney writes in an essay in the Fulcrum. This year, “extremists are assaulting the institutional pillars of Congress, in an offensive that could inflict even more lasting damage.”

The count: $5.1 million

That’s how much cash Republican Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker had left unspent in his campaign account on Dec. 26 after losing a Dec. 6 runoff to Sen. Raphael Warnock and giving Democrats an actual majority instead of control with a power-sharing agreement. Walker’s post-runoff disclosure, filed with the Federal Election Commission on Saturday, shows he took in $15 million between Nov. 17 and Dec. 26 and another $413,000 after the runoff. Warnock’s report showed he raised $30.7 million during the same period and finished with $6 million left over.

Nathan’s notes

“I’m a hypocrite, or at least conflicted,” Nathan L. Gonzales writes in a new column. “Cameras in Congress are a good thing, I think. But they also might be part of the problem.”

Candidate confessions

With the “nepo baby” discourse at a high point recently, New Jersey Rep. Rob Menendez spoke with NBC’s Chuck Todd about following his father, Sen. Bob Menendez, into politics. The younger Menendez said he never envisioned himself running for office while he was growing up, especially knowing that he would be compared to his father. 

“If you constantly are trying to prove what you’re not, you never get to the point of asking yourself who you want to be. And you know, it’s challenging, right, following in a parent’s footsteps,” he said.

Shop talk: Ed Perlmutter

After serving eight terms in the House as a representative from Colorado, Perlmutter opted not to run for reelection in 2022 and has since joined the Denver and Washington, D.C., offices of Holland & Knight as a partner. The Democrat plans to focus on public policy and government relations matters at the lobbying and law firm. 

Starting out: “I’d say it was in my family’s genes,” Perlmutter said about how he got his start in politics. He noted that his Republican maternal grandfather was a chief justice on the Illinois Supreme Court and that his father was a “lefty” who became involved in Democratic politics. He remembers being a boy of about age 7 walking precincts with this dad and siblings, passing out campaign literature for local candidates. “It was always a very positive experience,” he said. “After we finished on a Saturday or Sunday, we always got chocolate milkshakes and stuff like that.”

Most unforgettable campaign moment: “That was really in 2010, which was a difficult political year for Democrats, and I won a tough race in the Denver suburbs that folks thought I might not win, and a lot of my friends lost. And I just remember doing a cartwheel on election night after I won, and it made papers all across the country, saying something like, ‘Well, at least one Democrat had fun on election night,’” he recalled. “A friend of mine was in China, and it was in one of their papers. And I’ve got a copy of Der Spiegel or something from Germany with me doing a cartwheel on the front page.”

Biggest campaign regret: Perlmutter said that even though “I just love passing the torch to Brittany Pettersen,” the Democrat who won his reconfigured former congressional district, he is bummed that he never got to campaign in the newly drawn 7th District. “In my opinion, it’s the prettiest district in America,” he said. “And it’s the highest mountains on the Continental Divide, the biggest forests, the best fishing, the best rafting, the streams and lakes are beautiful. And not campaigning in this new district is a regret. I love what I’ve represented, which have been primarily suburbs and into the mountains a little bit. But the new district is really the heart of Colorado.”

Unconventional wisdom: “This may be a little optimistic or pollyannaish of me, but with the various interns that we’ve had in our office, with the candidates that we nominated to the academies, I have seen a growing interest in young people in government and in politics generally. And I think that is good,” he said. “I hope that it continues. I’ve seen it up close and personal. I got a note from a dad yesterday, whose son was an intern of ours a couple years ago and he was kind of lost,” Perlmutter said, noting that the dad said the former intern had graduated college with honors and was heading to work on an environmental project in California. “And he credited working in our office and politics. And we’ve seen that across the board. Young people are really, I think, taking their future into their own hands and are working in a political and a public service way that we haven’t seen for a while, and I’m very happy about that.”

Coming up

President Joe Biden plans to visit Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Warnock is senior pastor and where Martin Luther King Jr. was once senior pastor, on Sunday, ahead of Monday’s MLK holiday. 

Photo finish

Democrat Ed Perlmutter celebrates his 2010 election to the House representing Colorado by doing a cartwheel as supporters cheer on Nov. 2, 2010. (Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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