Roger Wicker

Lawmakers: Southwest flying 49 jets that don’t meet FAA standards
Paperwork to assure safety was overlooked in planes airline bought overseas

A Southwest Airlines jet parked at Boeing's Renton, Wash., factory. (Photo by Gary He/Getty Images)

Southwest Airlines is flying 49 aircraft despite concerns that they do not comply with mandatory federal safety standards, according to documents released by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

At issue are 88 Southwest Airlines Boeing 737s previously operated by 16 different foreign air carriers between 2013 and 2017. None of the aircraft are the 737 Max model, which has been grounded by the FAA after two fatal crashes.

Boeing chief at Senate 737 Max hearing: ‘We made mistakes’
Senators question whether Boeing held back key information and whether its culture contributed to unsafe aircraft

Nadia Milleron, whose daughter Samya Stumo was killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, holds a sign with victims of the crash Tuesday behind Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, foreground, during the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on aviation safety and the future of the Boeing 737 MAX. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

As he prepares for Wednesday’s oversight hearing with the embattled Boeing CEO, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio must sort through a corporate culture that he believes compromised safety and find out what, if any, legislative remedies there are to be had.

The crash of two Boeing 737 Max aircraft over the past year — Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March — took the lives of 346 people and profoundly wounded the reputation and bottom line for the Chicago-based aircraft maker. The aircraft has been grounded in the U.S. since March.

Appropriators seek clarity on aircraft inspector qualifications
Lawmakers asked FAA response to findings that safety inspectors lacked training to certify 737 Max pilots

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are seen parked on Boeing property along the Duwamish River near Boeing Field on August 13, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Top Senate appropriators pressed the Federal Aviation Administration chief to respond after a federal investigator found that safety inspectors lacked sufficient training to certify Boeing 737 Max pilots.

Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Jack Reed, D-R.I., the chairwoman and ranking member of the Senate Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee, asked FAA chief Steve Dickson in a letter Tuesday provide more information about the U.S. Office of Special Counsel’s report and the FAA’s response to it.

Senate chairman worried ‘Real ID’ will shock air travelers
Airport security set to require enhanced driver’s licenses in one year

The Senate Commerce chairman worries passengers will be caught by surprise when airports begin requiring Real IDs to pass through security. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

A post-9/11 law designed to keep people from using fake IDs to board airplanes is one year away from taking effect, but the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee worries that it’s destined to create “Y2K-type disruption” at the nation’s airports in October 2020.

Even though most states are issuing Real IDs — enhanced driver’s licenses required with the passage of a 2005 law  — Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker said he worries passengers who don’t have them and don’t know they need them will be caught by surprise on Oct. 1, 2020, when airports begin requiring the enhanced identification to pass through security.

Photos of the Week: We’re howling at the moon
The week of July 19 as captured by Roll Call’s photojournalists

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar responds to the media scrum as she leaves the Capitol after the last votes of the week in the Capitol on Thursday. Rep. Omar was the target of derogatory comments made by President Trump about her and other freshmen members. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Ghosts of Confederate Mississippi endure in the Capitol
Jefferson Davis, James Z. George were Confederates, white supremacists

A statue of James Z. George, a Confederate colonel and U.S. senator, is on display in the Capitol Visitor Center. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

While answering phones in the Mississippi congressional office where he worked, Ty James was called the n-word by someone on the other end of the line. It was 2017 and marked the second time he had been called that.

Those kinds of experiences have helped convince James, a native Mississippian and African American who is press secretary for Rep. Bennie Thompson, that the two statues representing the state in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall Collection shouldn’t be devoted to men who were Confederates and white supremacists.

NASA chief warns yearlong stopgap could cripple return to moon
Sen. Moran asked Administrator Bridenstine for help winning over former House colleagues

The image of a Saturn V, the rocket that sent Apollo 11 into orbit on July 16, 1969, is projected on the Washington monument on July 16, 2019, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to land the first man on the moon. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With celebrations underway marking the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, the NASA administrator is warning that a full-year stopgap spending bill, like one recently floated by the Trump administration, would be “devastating” to U.S. efforts to get back to the moon.

Administrator Jim Bridenstine was at the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday for a hearing on space exploration to the moon and Mars, when Chairman Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, asked about the potential consequences of a yearlong continuing resolution, or CR.

Progress on federal data privacy bill slows in both chambers
Consensus is elusive, say congressional aides, industry sources and lobbyists

Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker says “there has been no timetable” for a data privacy bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers and industry groups want to pass a federal data privacy law this year, but progress on the measure has slowed. It’s now unclear whether legislation resembling California’s tough requirements on the tech industry can clear hurdles in Congress and be signed into law before the end of the year. 

Small bipartisan groups of lawmakers in both chambers are working on draft legislation that was supposed to have been unveiled in May but has been delayed and is now expected to be released sometime before the August congressional recess. 

Thad Cochran: A life in photos
Photos of the late Mississippi senator from the CQ Roll Call archives

Portrait of Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., from 1985. A year earlier, he easily won a high-profile race for re-election over former Democratic Gov. William F. Winter. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran died Thursday at the age of 81. The mannerly former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee — where he was a dependable provider for his home state — spent more than four decades in Congress.

Cochran retired from the Senate in April 2018 after dealing with health issues. The longtime Republican lawmaker began his congressional career in the House, winning election to Mississippi’s old 4th District in 1972. After three terms, he ran and won a race for Senate in 1978, becoming the first Republican to win statewide office in the Magnolia State since Reconstruction. 

Thad Cochran, former Senate Appropriations chairman, has died at age 81
Mississippi Republican known for old-school civility served in Congress for 45 years

Former Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., who died Thursday, served in Congress for 45 years. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Thad Cochran of Mississippi, the mannerly former chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was a dependable provider for his home state during more than four decades in Congress, has died at the age of 81.

Cochran, who retired from the Senate on April 1, 2018, after dealing with health issues, died Thursday morning in Oxford, Mississippi, according to a statement circulated by Chris Gallegos, his longtime communications director.