Rick Larsen

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.

New Democrats launch task forces to help craft the House majority’s policy agenda
Task forces focus on issue areas like health care, infrastructure, climate change, national security, trade and technology

Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., will co-chair the New Democrat Coalition’s health care task force, one of eight policy-focused work groups the centrist Democrats have launched this week. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The New Democrat Coalition is ready to help the House majority craft its policy agenda for the 116th Congress, launching eight issue-focused task forces to develop proposals on party priorities such as health care, infrastructure and climate change. 

The group of centrist Democrats has used task forces to develop policy proposals in past Congresses, but they’re particularly excited about the work the task forces will do this session now that their party is in the majority.

FAA Authorization Still Grounded in Senate
Congress could be looking at sixth straight extension as Sept. 30 deadline approaches

Los Angeles International Airport in March. Congress could be headed toward its sixth straight extension of FAA authorization if it fails to meet a Sept. 30 deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration in June of last year. But the measure’s proponents have struggled ever since to get it to the floor, even as another deadline approaches at the end of this month.

Congress could be headed toward its sixth straight extension of FAA authorization if both chambers can’t pass a yet-unfinished conference bill before Sept. 30. House leaders on the issue, who steered easy passage of their measure earlier this year, have blamed the other chamber, which hasn’t passed its own bill.

Key Players in FAA Conference Negotiations
Committee leaders come with their own priorities for FAA reauthorization

House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., left, and ranking member Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., both want to do a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Sept. 30 deadline to renew Federal Aviation Administration programs approaches, members of both parties are working to reach a deal on a consensus bill that could be acceptable to both chambers.

The process has been slowed because the Senate did not pass its committee-approved bill. Negotiators in an informal conference committee don’t know how many of up to 90 amendments offered to the Senate measure could be in play or whether any senator will object to a final bill that doesn’t include his or her priorities.

Senators Get Informal as FAA Deadline Nears
Reauthorization didn’t make the summer cut. Now senators are looking for a pre-conference shortcut

Sen. John Thune says negotiating with the House before Senate passage is the best option to avoid a lapse of authorization Sept. 30, even if process questions remain. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Staff members on both sides of the Capitol are trying to work around obstacles in the Senate by negotiating “pre-conference” versions of Federal Aviation Administration authorization and water infrastructure bills, according to lawmakers.

Despite the stated goals of the bills’ sponsors, the Senate did not consider either the FAA or water infrastructure measure over the summer, preventing a true conference committee from hashing out differences with the House-passed versions of the FAA and water infrastructure bills.

Defense Officials: US Needs Coordinated China Tech Strategy
“China is the embodiment of the military technology transfer challenge”

Michael Griffin, under secretary of Defense for research and engineering, says it’s time to look at China’s efforts as a whole, not as a series of individual actions. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Chinese efforts to acquire U.S. intellectual property and technology are pervasive and not limited to cyber theft, defense and intelligence officials told members of the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

Beijing is also investing in U.S. companies, sending students to American universities, embarking on joint business ventures and cheating on trade agreements, said Anthony Schinella, national intelligence officer for military issues at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Congress Warns North Korea — and Trump — on Nuke Talks
Messer says Trump deserves a Nobel Prize

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said President Donald Trump's position on North Korea gave an opportunity for diplomacy with North Korea. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Members of Congress were cautious in response to the news that President Donald Trump will meet with Kim Jong Un to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a hawkish Republican who went from being a major Trump critic to ally, said Trump’s “strong stand” against the regime gives the United States the best opportunity for peace.

House Democrats Pick Nadler Over Lofgren for Judiciary Post
Caucus sticks with seniority tradition

House Democrats picked Jerrold Nadler, right, over Zoe Lofgren to be the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. (CQ Roll Call file photos)

House Democrats voted Wednesday to elect New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee over California Rep. Zoe Lofgren.

The vote was 118-72, according to Virginia Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, who declined to say whom he voted for, citing the secret ballot process. The caucus action followed the recommendation made Tuesday by the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee.

Members, USO Make Care Packages for Hurricane Relief Troops
1,500 packages assembled for National Guard troops deployed to Texas and Florida

Reps. Suzan DelBene of Washington, second from right, and Mike Coffman of Colorado, right, assemble care packages in the Rayburn building Tuesday for members of the National Guard who are assisting in the hurricane cleanup efforts. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The USO came to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to get help from members and staffers in their efforts to send 1,500 care packages to National Guard members deployed to Florida and Texas to assist with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma relief.

Hundreds of staffers and several members pitched in and helped the organization reach that goal within two hours.