Transportation & Infrastructure

After Dog Dies On United Airlines Flight Sen. John Kennedy Proposes Bill
‘Violators will face significant fines. Pets are family.’

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., will propose legislation to prevent airlines from putting animals in overhead storage bins. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. John Kennedy, like most Americans, was outraged when he read the news an English bulldog puppy had died in overhead storage on a United Airlines flight this week.

So outraged that he is proposing legislation to outlaw airlines from putting dogs and other animals in overhead bins. Officials would face significant fines if they do not comply.

In Shift, White House Embraces Art of the Possible
GOP source: ‘You’re just not going to pass legislation in 2018’

President Donald Trump speaks at Republicans’ retreat in West Virginia on Feb. 1 as Speaker Paul D. Ryan and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise look on. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump and White House officials, with their modest response to school shootings and in other recent remarks, have shelved bold demands of Congress for asks rooted more in the art of the possible.

The president started 2018 by pushing members of both parties to swing for the fences on a sweeping immigration deal, even offering them political cover when he told them he would “take all the heat you want to give me.”

Five Cabinet Secretaries Face Senate Barrage
Questions range from infrastructure to nuclear waste to the Census

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune's panel hosted five Cabinet secretaries on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not every day — or even every decade — that five cabinet secretaries walk in to testify at the same Senate hearing.

And while Wednesday’s Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing generally focused on President Donald Trump’s proposal to rebuild American infrastructure (and doubts about how to pay for it), senators took full advantage of having so many heavy hitters in one room.

Ryan’s Piecemeal Approach May Keep GOP Infrastructure Push Afloat
But speaker’s strategy of multiple bills could complicate Senate passage

Speaker Paul D. Ryan wants to break an infrastructure overhaul into pieces, moving five to six bills before the August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A key piece of the Republicans’ 2018 legislative agenda is shape-shifting.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s pronouncement last week that an infrastructure overhaul will be tackled in multiple bills serves a dual purpose: It keeps hope for one of the president’s top policy priorities alive, while setting more realistic expectations for what will get done this midterm election year.

Thune Clears Path for Long-Term Aviation Bill This Summer
Commerce chairman abandons effort to change how pilot hours are counted

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune is dropping a controversial pilot training provision from the aviation bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s decision to drop a controversial provision on pilot training clears a path for lawmakers to complete a long-term aviation reauthorization bill this summer that addresses drones, aircraft certification, safety and other issues.

Thune, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said last week he was abandoning his effort to change how pilot hours are counted. That came after House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster gave up the week before on spinning off the air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration. Both proposals encountered stiff resistance in Congress.

Ryan Says Infrastructure Overhaul Will Be Done in 5 to 6 Bills
'We don’t want to do one big bill,' speaker says

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said an infrastructure overhaul is easier to pass if broken into pieces. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday affirmed House Republicans’ intentions to complete an infrastructure overhaul this year but said that the effort will be broken into pieces. 

“We don’t want to do one big bill,” the Wisconsin Republican said at an event in Georgia with Home Depot employees.

Chao Goes Off the Rails on New York-New Jersey Project

Secretary of Transportation nominee Elaine Chao testifies as her husband Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., looks on during her Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on Jan. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao came to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to answer questions about the administration’s infrastructure proposal Tuesday. But she spent much of the time confirming and defending the administration’s attempt to kill a New York and New Jersey rail program.

“Is the president of the United States personally intervening with the speaker to kill this project?” asked Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., referring to a weekend report in The Washington Post that President Donald Trump asked Speaker Paul D. Ryan to kill funding for the Gateway Program.

Chao, Senate Democrats Spar on Infrastructure Proposal
Transportation secretary says ask the White House about gas tax increase

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao pushed back on Democrats' criticism about the administration's infrastructure plan, such as it is. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee sparred Thursday over environmental requirements and funding in the president’s infrastructure proposal, jousting over the contents of a plan that top Senate Republicans indicated this week isn’t likely to pass this year.

Chao repeatedly defended the plan from charges by committee Democrats that it would strip environmental protections, saying the administration only wanted to improve the process without sacrificing environmental quality. The administration wants to eliminate duplication and allow relevant agencies to conduct environmental reviews simultaneously rather than sequentially, she said.

Winners and Losers in the Trump Budget in One Chart
Administration released its budget request Monday

The president’s budget request includes $1.1 trillion in discretionary funds. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Trump administration submitted its fiscal 2019 budget request to Capitol Hill on Monday, outlining the president’s priorities for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Roll Call analyzed the documents and put together the following graphic on the departmental winners and losers in the proposed budget:

House Appropriators Ready to Carve Up Budget Deal
Side deal among leaders would divide spending, and could divide members

House Appropriations member Steve Womack, who is also Budget chairman, said he and his fellow appropriators never like to have their work spelled out for them. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A side agreement among congressional leaders to allocate some of the new nondefense funding to opioid abuse prevention, infrastructure and several other priorities is complicating the plan to write a fiscal 2018 omnibus.

Even if that weren’t the case, appropriators say they don’t like being micromanaged.

Podcast: Roadblocks to Rebuilding America's Roads and Bridges
CQ on Congress, Episode 89

The White House says it will not include any new revenue sources to finance its plan for about $200 billion in infrastructure spending. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Trump says he wants a $1.5 trillion to rebuild America's roads, bridges and other infrastructure, but differences over how to pay for it could prevent his ambitious plan from getting off the ground. CQ transportation reporter Jacob Fischler and budget editor Peter Cohn explain.

Shuster Hopes to Move FAA Funding Before Infrastructure Bill
Says GOP votes could be sacrificed for bipartisan support

Elevator doors close on House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol in 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster said he intends to try to pass a long-term reauthorization of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration before an infrastructure package advances.

Shuster, who will take a lead role in negotiations on the infrastructure bill, also said he expects to lose some Republican support in order to bring Democrats on board and advance a bipartisan bill.

Republicans Remain Hopeful on Infrastructure, but Funding Still an Open Question
‘Congress will have a say’ in infrastructure framework, Thune says

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., talks with reporters after he and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., conducted a news conference at the media center during the House and Senate Republican retreat on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — Infrastructure is set to be a major topic of discussion at the GOP retreat, but how to fund a package that could total as much as $1.5 trillion remains an open question that Republican lawmakers must grapple with.

Republican leaders said they will rely significantly on funding commitments from private industry to help offset the cost of the yet to be released package. But funding within the bill — possibly upwards of a quarter of the total money — are also expected to be directed specifically to those regions that can’t bring in enough outside capital to pay for certain projects involving roads, bridges and broadband internet.

Trump Sheds Bipartisan Tone, Returns to Blasting Dems
Presidents joins Republicans at retreat to talk DACA, infrastructure

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House chamber on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It turns out the bipartisan message President Donald Trump struck in his State of the Union address had a shelf life of exactly 32 hours.

The president used part of his speech to a joint session of Congress to call on Republicans and Democrats to cooperate on issues like immigration reform and rebuilding the country’s aging infrastructure. He stuck to that script on Wednesday, taking no public shots at congressional Democrats even after they booed and hissed at parts of his address.