transportation

Emails ensure Boeing scrutiny will continue, DeFazio says
Transportation and Infrastructure chairman questions whether the company has given his panel the ‘full picture’

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., speaks to a reporter in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Oct. 23, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The chairman of the committee investigating how the troubled Boeing 737 Max made its way through the Federal Aviation Administration flight certification process questioned on Friday whether the company has given his panel the “full picture” of the jet’s development, saying he believes Boeing may be trying to scapegoat lower-level employees.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he will press Boeing attorneys to release more documents, saying he will continue the investigation into the crash even as his committee pushes toward legislation to prevent similar tragedies.

Emails show Boeing employees derided FAA and worried about 737 Max simulators
Chairmen investigating FAA's handling of ill-fated aircraft say 'incredibly damning' messages show 'troubling disregard for safety'

Boeing 737 Max airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing Field in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Long before two separate Boeing 737 Max airplane crashes killed 346 people, employees of the company exchanged internal messages displaying deep concern about the aircraft’s simulators as well as disdain for federal regulators.

In dozens of pages of messages released to congressional committees investigating the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia and the March 2019 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft in Ethiopia, employees expressed dismay about a flight simulator used to test the aircraft, criticized the culture of the company and bantered about tricking regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the aircraft.

Lawmakers unveil two mega spending packages
Health taxes to be repealed, tobacco age raised in year-end deal

From left, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., along with Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, not pictured, announced on Thursday that they had reached a deal on a spending agreement before government funding runs out at the end of this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated Dec. 16 at 6:05 p.m.

House appropriators filed two mega spending packages for floor consideration Tuesday after hammering out last-minute details over the weekend.

Powerful patrons duel over California projects in final spending package
Pelosi seeks Presidio park while McCarthy pursues Shasta Dam expansion

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are pushing for this year’s final spending bills to include projects for their home state of California. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The top Democratic and Republican leaders in the House are pushing for their own home-state projects in this year’s final spending bills — a spectacular park overlooking San Francisco Bay and a dam across the largest reservoir in California — but without agreement from each other in the negotiations’ final days.

The two items in dispute — the Presidio park project championed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Shasta Dam expansion sought by House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy — are among some 200 disagreements that need to be resolved by leadership to finish up the appropriations legislation.

NDAA provision targets Chinese rail cars and electric buses
Defense bill bars spending federal dollars on vehicles made by state-owned or controlled companies

While other transit systems have two years to implement the spending provision, Washington’s Metro system would have to abide by it immediately.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Tucked in the conference report of the NDAA is a provision aimed at blocking Chinese companies from building rail cars or buses used in U.S. transit. 

The final version of the conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act released Monday night would bar federal dollars from being used to purchase passenger rail cars or buses from state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, such as those from China.

Pelosi: Climate panel is not just ‘an academic endeavor’
Select committee headed by Castor said to be readying recommendations for ‘major’ legislation in 2020

Castor's climate panel is to make recommendations for legislation in 2020.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats will unveil major climate legislation in the spring after the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis releases a set of recommendations, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Friday.

Pelosi said House Democrats would follow the conclusions of the committee, which was established at the start of this Congress and has held more than a dozen hearings on climate change and its underpinning science, to draft what she said would be bipartisan legislation.

Appropriators seek to wrap up talks this weekend
But panel members acknowledge ‘hurdles’ as Dec. 20 deadline for bill passage looms

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, on Thursday said he was “more enthusiastic than I was a couple of days ago” that final negotiations on spending bills could be done this weekend. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Spending bill negotiators set their sights on wrapping up a year-end deal by this weekend, but they differed on how realistic that deadline might be.

With only two weeks left before current funding runs dry, appropriators are hoping to finalize work on all 12 spending bills and pass them by Dec. 20 to avoid another stopgap measure or possible government shutdown. But unless a deal comes together in the next several days, lawmakers have warned, there likely won’t be enough time to write the bills and move them through both chambers before the holiday recess.

Train safety technology hasn't quite reached the station
Fatalities add up as cost and complexity delay full implementation of 'positive train control' system

Rescue crews and investigators inspect the site of a May 2015 Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia . (Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

After years of delays, a railroad safety system that federal regulators say could have prevented some 300 deaths since 1969 is finally close to full implementation — but large gaps remain, with commuter railroads using the system on fewer than half of the tracks required by December 2020.

Overall, the news for supporters of the so-called positive train control system is promising — 92 percent of the 58,000 track miles required to implement the safety system have it installed, according the Federal Railroad Administration, which is overseeing compliance with the law. 

Two agencies, two different approaches to drone threats at airports
FAA considers registering drones, DHS contemplates shooting them down as sightings near airports increase dramatically

Passengers at Gatwick Airport wait for their flights after delays and cancellations brought on by drone sightings near the airfield in December 2018. (Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images file photo)

California Democrats seek EPA watchdog help amid Trump threats
Members want to know if political influence played a role in retaliation against their state

California Democratic Reps. Doris Matsui, left, and Anna G. Eshoo, seen after a caucus meeting in the Capitol, both signed on to the letter to the EPA watchdog. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A group of California Democrats on Monday pressed the EPA’s internal watchdog to investigate whether the agency has retaliated against their state for political reasons, including by threatening to withhold federal funds for multiple transportation projects.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler threatened in a Sept. 24 letter to the California Air Resources Board, the state’s air agency, to withhold federal funding for highway projects if local regulators did not implement plans, known as “state implementation plans,” or SIPs, to improve air quality.