Peter A DeFazio

Asked about gas tax, Chao says ‘nothing is off the table’
Transportation secretary also says the Trump administration has ‘learned from the past’

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes as she fielded questions at a Senate Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee meeting on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said Wednesday that the administration “has learned from the past” that it should consult with Congress before proposing an infrastructure plan, but stopped short of saying when consultations would start.

Appearing before the Senate’s Transportation-HUD appropriations subcommittee, Chao indicated there could be support from the White House for higher gas taxes and fees on airplane tickets, but she also renewed the administration’s call to cut red tape in project approvals and find ways to attract private-sector funding from pension funds and endowments.

Hearing into 737 Max crashes will focus on FAA oversight
A Senate subcommittee will question the FAA‘s certification process for the 737 Max 8 and 9 began Wednesday

A Boeing 737 Max 8 airliner takes off from Renton Municipal Airport near the company’s factory, on March 22, 2019 in Renton, Washington. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The first of what will likely be many congressional hearings into two catastrophic overseas crashes of Boeing’s new 737 Max jets began Wednesday with senators focusing on how federal safety regulators delegate work to the manufacturers they oversee and how they react after accidents happen.

The Senate’s aviation and space subcommittee, led by Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, will question the Federal Aviation Administration’s certification process for the 737 Max 8 and 9, and the March 13 decision to ground the planes, which came after other airlines and nations had already done so.

A 25-cent gas tax hike has support, but is 5 cents a year enough?
Right now, the hike is needed to maintain current spending levels, and isn’t enough to pare down a growing project backlog

A pothole is visible on a road on April 25, 2017, in San Rafael, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As Congress debates how to prevent the Highway Trust Fund from becoming insolvent, groups as disparate as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO are urging lawmakers to bite the bullet and raise the gas tax by 25 cents a gallon over five years.

But even if they bite it, a nickel increase every year for five years may not be a magic bullet. That’s because the extra money in the early years will be needed just to maintain the current level of spending, and provide nothing to attack a growing backlog of projects.

Former Delta pilot named to lead FAA as Chao seeks Max 8 audit
The agency faces questions about its handling of the Boeing 737 Max plane, involved in two catastrophic crashes

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is escorted into her chair by R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, before a Senate Environment and Public Works Senate Committee in Dirksen Building titled “The Administration’s Framework for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” on March 01, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Delta Air Lines executive and pilot Stephen M. Dickson was nominated Tuesday to take over as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, an agency facing questions about its handling of the Boeing 737 Max plane involved in two catastrophic overseas crashes.

Also on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said she had asked the department’s inspector general to conduct a formal audit of the certification process for the 737 Max 8.

FAA: New data led to grounding of 737 Max jets
All Max 8 and 9 models in the air right now ‘will be grounded’ today as soon as they land, Trump told reporters

The Boeing 737-8 is pictured on a mural on the side of the Boeing Renton Factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Updated 5:40 p.m. | The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 airliners grounded on Wednesday after enhanced satellite data showed similarities between Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and an October crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia.

President Donald Trump announced the decision, which came after the European Union, Great Britain, China and some airlines had already grounded the planes and members of Congress were calling on the FAA to follow suit.

After HR 1 vote, Democrats ready to move quickly on other top 10 bills
Pelosi has been steadily rolling out bills HR 1 through 10 to keep priorities advancing

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats are following through on their campaign promises with legislation. She’s designated bills HR 1 through HR 10 to reflect those top priorities. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 12:03 p.m. | House Democrats were in high spirits Friday after they passed the top item on their policy agenda — a package of voting, campaign finance and ethics overhauls dubbed HR 1 — but they’re not going to stop to celebrate for too long.

The new Democratic majority has been quickly, but steadily and deliberately, rolling out legislation to fulfill their 2018 midterm campaign promises and reintroducing bills that languished during the past eight years when Republicans controlled the House. 

5 ways Congress may try to fix the Highway Trust Fund
Better mileage and slower growth in miles traveled have combined to produce less revenue than Congress voted to spend

A symbol based on the original Route 66 road signs is seen painted on the highway near an abandoned gas station (L) and Cafe in Ludlow, California. (David McNew/Getty Images)

For nearly half a century, taxes on gas and diesel fuel funded what Congress spent from the Highway Trust Fund on roads, bridges and, after a 1982 compromise, mass transit.

For the past decade, however, better mileage for cars and trucks and slower growth in the number of miles Americans traveled combined to produce less revenue than Congress voted to spend.

Financial transaction tax will be a test for Democratic presidential candidates
Questions will be asked about whether others will join New York’s Gillibrand in support

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., is leading the House version of a proposed trading tax. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The many congressional Democrats making runs for the White House will have to decide whether to support a new tax on traders and investors.

With Democrats on both sides of the Capitol unveiling proposed taxes on financial transactions that they say would target high frequency trading while providing new revenue for Democratic priorities, the issue could put several candidates on the record. 

Senate to follow House, keep earmarks out of spending bills
Earmarks have also been banned in the Senate since 2011

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., is seen after the Senate Policy luncheons on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators don’t plan to revive earmarks this year, following the House’s lead set late last week by the Democratic majority across the Capitol.

“I would listen to meritorious things, but I don’t see that happening right now. The House has just spoken,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., said Monday.

Here are the 13 Republicans who rebuked Trump over his national emergency
President wants to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border

Democrats are targeting Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler in 2020. The congresswoman was among 13 Republicans who voted for the Democrats’ disapproval resolution Tuesday evening. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thirteen Republicans rebuked President Donald Trump on Tuesday, supporting a Democratic effort to block his national emergency declaration to fund a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A resolution of disapproval to overturn Trump’s move passed the House by a vote of 245-182, with almost every Democrat and 13 Republicans supporting the measure. Trump declared a national emergency earlier this month when Congress failed to meet his request of $8 billion for a barrier along the southern border. Lawmakers allocated nearly $1.4 billion for 55 miles of barriers in a recent government funding bill.