Transportation & Infrastructure

Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence
Top Democrats who would oversee legislation in the House are reluctant to endorse plan that would remake economy

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have championed the Green New Deal on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution outlining the goals of the Green New Deal capped off its first week of a somewhat messy rollout with mixed reviews, even from typically Democratic strongholds like labor unions.

In the House, the top two Democrats who would oversee any legislation that comes out of the plan have remained reluctant to fully endorse it, stopping at lauding the goals and the enthusiasm behind them. And Republicans quickly branded the Green New Deal as an extreme, socialist plan with unrealistic proposals to eliminate air travel and cows.

The change-makers: Roll Call’s people to watch in 2019
A surge of energy from activists has defined the Trump era. What’s the end game?

Varshini Prakash co-founded the Sunrise Movement, an environmental group, in 2017. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images file photo)

Several activists who will be on the front lines of some of the biggest policy battles in the year ahead rank among Roll Call’s People to Watch in 2019. 

They include the leader of a fledgling environmental group pushing for aggressive action on climate change; the new president of Planned Parenthood, the lightning rod in the raging debate over abortion; and an expert on transportation safety who will be insisting on strong regulations to prevent deaths and injuries from driver-less vehicles. 

Trump offers 61 words on infrastructure, follow-up awaited
President Donald Trump declared Tuesday night that passage of an infrastructure package was a “necessity,” but didn’t provide specifics

President Donald Trump is seen in the House Chamber during his State of the Union address along with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and VP Mike Pence on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It was only 61 words in a State of the Union speech that ran close to 5,500 words, but President Donald Trump declared Tuesday night that passage of an infrastructure package was a “necessity.”

Lawmakers and industry groups that were hoping he would mention it agreed, though they said he will need to follow up if he’s serious.

Road closures for Tuesday’s 2019 State of the Union
Here’s what you need to know, and avoid, on the Tuesday night Washington evening commute

All roads leading to and from the Capitol will be closed to vehicles starting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in anticipation of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

All roads leading to and from the Capitol will be closed to vehicles starting Tuesday at 7 p.m. in anticipation of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address.

Beginning at 5:30 p.m., the roads closest to the Capitol will be restricted to people credentialed to attend the event and authorized pedestrians. Those include:

First House infrastructure hearing to highlight costs of delay
“We need to begin thinking about what are the costs and the potential for calamity if we don’t make these investments,” Chairman Peter DeFazio tells CQ

DeFazio says he wants people to think about the costs of potential calamities if the U.S. doesn't improve its infrastructure. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will kick off its effort to boost highway and transit spending this year with a hearing Feb. 7 to emphasize the cost of delaying upgrades to aging roads, bridges, transit systems and airports.

“What happens if the rail tunnels under the Hudson River fail, what happens when the tunnel under Baltimore fails, built in the Civil War?” Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., told CQ last week during an interview. “What happens when two bridges, one 89 years old and one 60 years, over the Columbia River, they’re going to fail during an earthquake. And then I-5 is cut off?

Senate shutdown talks hastened after airline disruption
Trump announces deal that would open shuttered government agencies and negotiate DHS funding

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the Senate floor after Senate rejected two attempts from Republicans and Democrats to reopen government on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Discussions between Senate leaders of both parties on how to end the 35-day government shutdown picked up with renewed urgency Friday as the record-setting government shutdown began halting flights scheduled to land at LaGuardia Airport — in Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s home state of New York.

President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon that a deal had been reached that would fund shuttered government agencies for three weeks while providing time to negotiate funding for the Department of Homeland Security.

Atlanta fears shutdown impact on Super Bowl travelers
About 120,000 partiers are expected to depart on “Mass Exodus Monday”

Stranded passengers relax near baggage claim at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Dec. 18, 2017, as hundreds of flights were canceled after a power outage at the airport. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images file photo)

Worried about “Mass Exodus Monday” when an estimated 120,000 Super Bowl partiers will leave Atlanta en masse, the city is taking matters into its own hands to help keep unpaid airport screeners on the job.

An Atlanta credit union will be offering zero interest loans to Transportation Security Administration employees to try to prevent them from calling in sick after the game, said Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, a Democrat.

Republican urges Trump to ‘jump-start’ infrastructure push

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., walks through the Capitol on Oct. 25, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats in Congress say they want to do it. President Donald Trump says he wants it, too.

But if a major transportation bill is going to happen this year, the ranking Republican on the House committee that would write it says Trump needs to get his own party on board, and that starts with State of the Union speech.

Government shutdown pushing Metro off the rails to the tune of $400K every weekday
Issues could get worse if benefits are not transferred after January 21

Metro is facing $400,000 in lost revenue each business day that the government is partially shut down . (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Metro, which operates trains buses and parking garages in and around Washington, D.C., is losing roughly $400,000 from its receipts for every business day that the partial government shutdown persists.

That revelation from WMATA General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld came in a letter to the Democratic senators from Maryland and Virginia who represent many users of the Metro system, including federal employees.

Divided government will pose an obstacle to lawmaking in 2019
Congress was most dysfunctional from 2011 to 2014 when control of House and Senate was split

The partial government shutdown is already casting a dark shadow for prospects of what Congress might accomplish in 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Washington tends to work best when one party controls both Congress and the White House. It’s most gridlocked, usually, when control of Congress is split.

The Congress of the past two years demonstrated the first principle. By any honest measure, President Donald Trump and his Republican colleagues in the House and Senate got a lot done in 2017 and 2018.

Man Charged in Eastern Market Suspicious Powder Incident
Camera footage showed individual sprinkling white substance around metro station

A suspicious powder substance at the Eastern Market metro station on Capitol Hill has prompted a huge emergency response, road closures and transit service changes. (Jason Dick, CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:43 p.m. | A suspicious powdery substance at the Eastern Market metro station on Capitol Hill prompted a huge emergency response Monday, including road closures and transit service changes.

Around 8:45 a.m. a man sprinkled an unknown white powder on the platform and tracks at Eastern Market, before exiting the station via train. The same man also sprinkled power in the elevator at the Metro Center station, where he exited the metro, according to WMATA spokesperson Dan Stessel.

Shutdown Effects: Breakdown by Department and Agency
Thousands of federal employees will be working without a paycheck

The Federal Reserve building is seen on Constitution Avenue address on Saturday, the first day of a partial government shutdown. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Thousands of federal employees face the prospect of working without a paycheck as the White House budget office Friday night directed the heads of government departments and agencies to begin implementing shutdown plans.

Funding for nine departments and other agencies lapsed at midnight as President Donald Trump remained in a standoff with Congress, his demand for funding for wall construction along the border with Mexico the sticking point in talks over appropriations and a stopgap funding measure.

Negotiations on Spending Deal Will Continue, But No Deal in Sight
Senate won’t vote on House spending plan, McConnell says he hopes White House and Democrats can make a deal

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., is seen on the Capitol's Senate steps before a procedural vote on the spending bill on Friday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker reached an agreement with the two Senate leaders that no vote on a spending plan will happen until there’s agreement between Senate Democrats, House Republicans and the White House.

“We’re not voting on anything else ... until there’s a global agreement,” Corker said on the Senate floor.

Listen to the New Sing-Song Warning for Senate Subway Riders
A new disembodied voice now rings out in the Russell trains

New audio warnings have been added for riders on the Senate subway. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

There’s a new soundtrack in the Senate basement this week, with the addition of audio warnings for riders on the Russell trains.

“Stand clear, the doors are closing,” says the announcement, which follows a few musical tones. 

White House: Trump Willing to Use Other Funds for Wall to Get Deal
White House would go along with deal as long as it can use funding from other sources to get closer to $5 billion

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House might go along with the Senate plan “as long as we can couple that with other funding resources that would help us get to the $5 billion.” (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemed to endorse a potential spending deal that would include all of the remaining appropriations, including a Senate Homeland Homeland Security bill with $1.6 billion in wall-related funding.

But as usual, there was a catch — President Donald Trump might insist on flexibility to use other funds already identified to get closer to his desired $5 billion.