Politics with J. Patrick Coolican

U scientist 'felt bullied' by EPA official


Good morning.

Senate Republicans’ healthcare legislation collapsed Tuesday, as the party lost key votes and GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said they would return to the measure after the Fourth of July recess. "Every time you get one bullfrog in the wheelbarrow, another one jumps out,” Sen. John Cornyn said of rounding up votes for the controversial bill. Now McConnell’s reputation as a master tactician is taking a hit, as the New York Times reports. Here’s an analysis of how governors from both parties helped stymie the legislation, from Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich to Colorado Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

A University of Minnesota scientist was pressured by the Environmental Protection Agency to revise her testimony before the House Science committee regarding the agency’s dismissal of several members of the Board of Scientific Counselors. “I was stunned that [the EPA chief of staff] was pushing me to ‘correct’ something in my testimony,” said the chemist, Deborah Swackhamer, who retired recently from the U. “I was factual, and he was not. I felt bullied.”

More news on the EPA: The administration will withdraw a rule giving the agency broad powers to regulate pollution of wetlands and tributaries that run into the nation’s largest rivers. The Waters of the United States rule that took effect under President Obama drew controversy among development, agricultural and industrial factions. (Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, the ranking member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, has criticized the measure.)

Donors in the Koch network see a big opportunity for Republicans to overhaul the tax code and healthcare legislation, but they also “worry that the GOP will somehow blow the chance it has been waiting for,” according to Politico.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry joins a list of officials who won’t say if Trump believes in climate change, the Huffington Post reports. 

In news that could bode well for the Iron Range, steel stocks rise on speculation that the Trump administration may soon impose tariffs on foreign steel companies. The Department of Commerce is expected to announce this week findings from its investigation into whether foreign-made steel imports threaten national security.

In Minnesota, Erin Golden reports that a Ramsey County judge has ordered temporary funding for the Legislature through Oct. 1. "Absent (temporary) relief, the public would be irreparably harmed through the deprivation of a basic constitutional right — a fully functioning Legislative Branch," wrote Judge John H. Guthmann in his 12-page order.

Here’s Eric Roper with a story on Adam Duininck resigning as chairman of the Met Council. Gov. Dayton appointed state rail director Alene Tchourumoff to lead the regional planning agency for the rest of the governor’s term. She’ll chair an agency with a $1 billion budget amid criticism that the council has too much power and too little accountability.

Have a great day, and send tips and comments to maya.rao@startribune.com

-- Maya Rao