Transportation & Infrastructure

Sarah Sanders lashes out at Democrats, April Ryan over calls for her firing
Embattled Trump spokeswoman calls Dems' reaction to Mueller report ‘sad,’ wants to ‘move on’

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday criticized author and journalist April Ryan, seen here at a book-launch event in September in New York, for calling for her ouster. The Mueller report detailed times in which Sanders lied to reporters, prompting Ryan's call. (Robin Marchant/Getty Images file photo)

Newly embattled White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday lashed out at congressional Democrats and reporter April Ryan as President Donald Trump and his team began their first week following release of Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

Democratic lawmakers wasted little time Thursday calling for her ouster following the special counsel’s report that detailed several instances in which Sanders misled reporters, especially about Trump’s decision-making before he fired then-FBI Director James Comey. Ryan, an American Urban Radio Networks reporter who provides analysis for CNN, followed that night by calling for the same during an appearance on the network’s “Outfront” program.

Chao defends delayed 737 Max decision, to House appropriators
The FAA’s handling of the crash raises questions about how the agency operates

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao arrives for the Senate Appropriations Committee Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing on the proposed Transportation Department budget for FY2020 on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao defended to House appropriators the administration’s decision not to immediately ground the Boeing 737 Max after an Ethiopian Airlines crash last month, even as other countries did so right away.

While Chao was appearing before the House Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee to defend the administration’s budget request for her agency, Chairman David E. Price, D-N.C., and ranking member Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., both said they wanted to understand more about the Federal Aviation Administration's process for certifying the model of the Boeing plane.

Kicking off party retreat, Democratic leaders pledge to take bipartisan approach to infrastructure
“We want to do that in a bipartisan fashion with the president, with the Senate, with the House,” Hoyer says

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., speaks during the House Democrats’ 2019 Issues Conference opening press conference at the Landsdowne Resort and Spa in Leesburg, Va., on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

LEESBURG, Va. — House Democrats are gathered here for their annual retreat to flesh out the details of their party’s agenda, but on at least one issue, they are pledging a bipartisan approach.

Infrastructure is among the top topics Democrats plan to focus on during their issues conference, which kicked off Wednesday afternoon and will run until midday Friday. 

Grassley sees chance to pass infrastructure, drug price legislation
CQ Budget Podcast, Episode 106

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, speaks with reporters as he arrives for the Senate Republicans' lunch in the Capitol. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Klobuchar declares trillion-dollar infrastructure plan is her top 2020 policy priority
Cites 2007 collapse of Minnesota’s I-35W bridge in pushing bigger federal transportation package than Trump

Rescue workers and a dive team work off a barge after a section of the I-35W bridge collapsed in August 2007 in Minneapolis. The eight lane steel and concrete bridge spanning the Mississippi River near the city's downtown was undergoing repair work, when it collapsed during the evening rush hour. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced Thursday that she would make a trillion-dollar infrastructure package her top legislative priority if she were to win the presidency in 2020.

The Minnesota Democrat’s proposal, which her campaign outlined Thursday morning, would include over $650 billion in direct federal spending on an assortment of public works projects (not just highways and bridges). And the Klobuchar is trying to draw a contrast with the on-again-off-again infrastructure plans of President Donald Trump.

FAA administrator defends decisions on Boeing 737 Max
Dennis K. Elwell faced sharp questions from senators from both parties at Wednesday hearing

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 head of the Federal Aviation Administration defended his decision to wait three days after a deadly crash in Ethiopia before ordering all Boeing 737 Max jets grounded, but he refused to divulge whether President Donald Trump had asked him to do so.

Acting FAA Administrator Dennis K. Elwell faced sharp questions Wednesday from senators in both parties at a Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee hearing about the grounding decision and the FAA’s certification of the 737 Max planes, especially the agency’s process that allows manufacturers to self-certify compliance with safety requirements.

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.

Trump’s DOT stalling for revenge, say backers of NY-NJ project
The agency is accused of stalling Amtrak’s Gateway project because of Democratic opposition to a Mexico border wall

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., conducts a news conference after the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senators from New Jersey and New York accused the Trump administration of stalling Amtrak’s Gateway project linking their states as revenge for Democratic opposition to a Mexico border wall. One said a deputy transportation secretary lied about the project, and that could hurt his nomination to serve in the Justice Department.

Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Rosen, who has been nominated for deputy attorney general, said Monday there was no funding for Gateway in the fiscal 2020 budget or in the fiscal 2019 appropriations package that Trump signed in February to end a standoff over the wall.

Trump is leaving infrastructure details to lawmakers. That has stymied them before
‘Few Republicans will go down this road,’ expert says of WH proposal in budget plan

President Donald Trump delivers a speech on June 7, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio about transportation and infrastructure projects. Despite it being a major 2016 campaign promise, he has been unable to get anything on the topic moving on Capitol Hill. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has talked about the “necessity” of a massive infrastructure overhaul since he became a presidential candidate in 2015, but his latest budget plan offers Congress the kind of vague proposal that has left them confused and stymied before.

The administration is asking lawmakers for $200 billion as an initial payment toward the president’s goal — up to $1.5 trillion from $1 trillion — for a sweeping project to upgrade the country’s roads, airports, bridges, tunnels, seaports and broadband networks. But senior officials say they won’t lay out a plan for which projects in which states Trump would like to see receive any of those dollars.

Boeing faces increasing political pressure to ground 737 Max 8
Elizabeth Warren weighs in through her presidential campaign, for one

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., issued a statement from her presidential campaign that Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes should be grounded, adding to a growing chorus of concern about the airplanes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid concerns over the safety of new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the debate is spilling into presidential politics.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among those calling for the United States to join other countries in grounding the planes on Tuesday after two crashes abroad.

Stew’s next stop
Longtime McConnell spokesman is heading to the Association of Global Automakers

Don Stewart is leaving the Senate after more than two decades. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Don Stewart, the outgoing deputy chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a Senate fixture for more than two decades, has his next destination.

Stewart is expected to finish up in the Kentucky Republican’s office this week before starting at the Association of Global Automakers on March 25.

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.