Transportation & Infrastructure

House bill targets Qatar-linked ‘flag of convenience’ Italian airline
Targets ‘flag of convenience’ airlines from undermining labor standards

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., joined a bill targeting low-cost foreign airlines seeking to fly to the United States. (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A House bill that would limit access of foreign airlines to the U.S. based on substandard labor conditions for their workers is the latest round in a long — and mostly successful — fight by U.S. airlines and aviation unions to keep low-cost foreign competition out of the U.S. market.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio was joined by other committee leaders, including Republicans, in sponsoring the bill introduced last week and aimed at preventing “flag of convenience” airlines from undermining labor standards.

Oil refiners racing Congress to protect butane loophole
Joint Committee on Taxation now estimates 1-year extension of the alternative fuel credits would cost $7.1 billion

House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says Congress should leave it to the courts to decide whether refiners should get an alternative fuel tax credit for butane. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

For more than a decade, oil refiners didn’t realize what a moneymaker they had in butane — at least for tax purposes.

They do now.

Trump energy plan faces legal blitz over weaker emissions standards
Democratic state AGs join environmental groups saying they’ll sue the federal government over the rule

Emissions spew from a large stack at the coal fired Brandon Shores Power Plant in Baltimore. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Blue states and green groups are gearing up to sue the Trump administration over its new carbon emissions rule finalized Wednesday, which critics say fails to address climate change and the public health risks associated with pollution from the power sector.

The EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy rule rescinds the Obama administration’s ambitious Clean Power Plan and replaces it with less stringent guidelines for states and coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions.

James Inhofe and the art of the bipartisan joke
Political Theater Podcast, Episode 78

Senate Armed Services Chairman James M. Inhofe and ranking member Jack Reed have a warm relationship that enables them to move bipartisan legislation, something Inhofe discusses in the latest Political Theater podcast. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. James M. Inhofe is one conservative guy, and he is proud of it, trumpeting vote-tracking organizations that peg him as the most right-wing in the chamber. And yet, the Oklahoma Republican has an equally proud history of working with some of his most liberal colleagues on bipartisan legislation. 

As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, he and Rhode Island’s Jack Reed, the panel’s ranking Democrat, constructed the highly popular defense authorization bill the last two years. And before that, he worked quite productively with California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the yin to Inhofe’s yang on environmental issues, as leaders of the Environment and Public Works Committee. This, despite Inhofe writing a book that claimed global warming was, as the title attested, “The Greatest Hoax.” And yet, “We prided ourselves in getting things done,” he says. 

Road Ahead: Border supplemental talks could overshadow regular appropriations
Senate to begin NDAA debate while House votes on first fiscal 2020 spending package

Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is among the senators hoping for a deal on a supplemental border operations package this week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Congressional leaders are hoping this week will produce a breakthrough in negotiations over emergency funding for the migrant crisis at the southern border so they can pass it before the Independence Day recess. 

President Donald Trump has requested Congress pass a $4.5 billion supplemental to help the Department of Homeland Security process the growing number of migrants trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Legal pot makes it harder to recruit truck drivers, industry leader says
Companies find applicants withdraw when they learn of hair sample tests for drug use

Cannabis plants grow in the greenhouse Johnstown, N.Y. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

As the trucking industry struggles with a driver shortage, the president of a major lobby placed part of the blame on wider acceptance by states of marijuana use.

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear told lawmakers at a Wednesday hearing that legalization of recreational marijuana by states is making it harder for the industry to find drug-free drivers. Still, low pay and poor working conditions are also hurdles to industry recruitment, according to a union leader.

US-Mexico tariff talks resume Friday as implementation looms Monday
House Ways and Means chairman says if Trump imposes tariffs, he’ll introduce resolution to repeal them

Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he’ll introduce a resolution of disapproval to repeal President Donald Trump’s tariffs against Mexico if they go into effect on Monday. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Mexico and the U.S. will continue talks Friday about efforts to curb the flow of Central American migrants to the southern U.S. border, Mexican Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said in a short statement late Thursday.

Mexico is trying to reach an agreement with the U.S. on migration in order to avoid a series of escalating tariffs President Donald Trump has threatened to impose on all Mexican imports. The first round of tariffs would begin Monday with a 5 percent duty on imports ranging from fruits to machinery.

Trump to Democrats: OK new NAFTA before public works bill
‘Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,’ the president said

From left, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., Vice President Mike Pence, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., President Donald Trump, and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., exit the Capitol after the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on March 14, 2019. As Democrats head to the White House to meet with Trump over a massive public works bill, the president told them such legislation should take a back seat to his new NAFTA deal, the USMCA. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On the eve of his second meeting with congressional Democrats about a potential $2 trillion public works bill, President Donald Trump told them such legislation should take a back seat to his trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y. “Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” the president continued.

FAA Nominee Faces Questions Over Boeing at Confirmation Hearing

Stephen Dickson, nominee to be administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, testifies during his confirmation hearing in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Former Delta Air Lines executive Stephen Dickson told lawmakers he would review the system used by the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the safety of aircraft and over-reliance on automation by pilots if he is confirmed to lead the agency.

“I would never certify an airplane I wouldn’t put my family on,” Dickson told lawmakers at the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he appeared Wednesday for his confirmation hearing.

Trump asks Congress to shift project funds to states he needs to win in 2020
Great Lakes, Everglades restoration initiatives make list as request heads to Hill

President Donald Trump greets supporters during a rally at the Van Andel Arena on March 28 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On Monday, Trump asked Congress to shift project funds to swing states he needs to win for a 2020 victory. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

President Trump’s Monday tweets about plussing up accounts for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an Everglades project and a NASA moon mission were codified in an amendment to his fiscal 2020 budget request sent to Congress the same day.

Also requested is nearly $20 million more for the Special Olympics.

Why Trump, Chuck and Nancy face huge hurdles in infrastructure spending plan
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 109

The Washington Monument can be seen as traffic travels over the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge April 13, 2015. The bridge is one of 61,000 bridges across America that the Department of Transportation said were structurally deficient and in need of repair. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Will Trump, Democrats’ agreement to do a $2 trillion infrastructure plan hold?
President has walked back promises before and lawmakers on both sides are skeptical about a deal to pay for it

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., says President Donald Trump could give both parties political cover if he advocates revenue-raising measures as part of an infrastructure deal. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

An agreement between congressional Democrats and President Donald Trump to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package could be short-lived if the president walks back his position or if the parties fail to agree on how to pay for it. 

Both are familiar scenarios and ones lawmakers in both parties acknowledge could nullify the agreement top congressional Democrats say they reached with Trump during a White House meeting meeting Tuesday.

Scooter commuters of Capitol Hill, take note
Electric scooters have become a ‘safety and security concern’ for Capitol Police

Electric scooters are raising safety and security concerns on Capitol Hill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Electric scooters have been on the scene in Washington for more than a year, but they’re starting to raise safety and security concerns on Capitol Hill.

The two-wheelers have grown in popularity as a commuting option for congressional staffers, tourists and other visitors, especially as the weather warms up. Rep. Vicky Hartzler tweeted out her observation that scooters may be rivaling bikes in terms of two-wheeled transport.

What does Trump support on infrastructure? It's anyone's guess, as always
3 things to watch from the White House as public works talks continue

President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing from the White House on March 8. On Tuesday, he told Democrats he supports an infrastructure package. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump was talking infrastructure with senior congressional Democrats Tuesday in the Oval Office when he threw a former aide under the bus.

“That was a Gary bill. That bill was so stupid,” Trump said, according to a senior Democratic aide. He was referring to his former chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, and an infrastructure modernization plan that the White House rolled out last year featuring mostly private-sector and state funds that even Republican lawmakers doubted would materialize. It fell flat, never gaining a second of traction on Capitol Hill, despite Trump's  GOP controlling both chambers.

White House stalls on endorsing $2 trillion for public works
Two sides will meet again in three weeks to discuss ways to pay for massive plan

Congressional Democrats talk to reporters following a Tuesday meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on infrastructure. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 7:13 p.m. | Congressional Democrats said President Donald Trump agreed to pursue a $2 trillion infrastructure package after a Tuesday morning meeting, but White House officials later said the administration is not ready to endorse a specific spending amount.

“We agreed on a number, which was very, very good,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said outside the White House following the meeting. “Originally, we had started a little lower but even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion. There was goodwill in this meeting and that was different from other meetings that we have had.”