Transportation & Infrastructure

Podcast: The Long Road Ahead to Fixing America’s Infrastructure
The Week Ahead, Episode 50

President Donald Trump wants to invest $1 trillion into the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges, tunnels and airports, as well as into drinking water, electric and telecommunications systems, says CQ Roll Call’s transportation reporter Jacob Fischler. But the hurdle to that ambitious agenda is finding the money. Fischler and transportation editor Randy Walerius discuss what role Congress could play in the plan.

Airline Food Workers Protest Low Wages Amid ‘Historic’ Profits
While airline employees have seen raises, those who cater airline meals have not

Airline catering workers in the Washington, D.C., area rallied for higher wages on Wednesday. (Photo Courtesy Meghan Cohorst, UNITE HERE)

United isn’t the only airline facing public criticism this week — airline food workers, who prepare meals served on flights, are protesting their low wages while they say the airlines are enjoying record profits.

More than 100 workers for airline catering companies marched from the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on Wednesday to protest their wages in the midst of what organizers with the labor union UNITE HERE described as “historic profits” for airlines and “well-deserved gains” for other airport and airline workers.

Senator Plots Bill to Prevent a Repeat of United Airlines Episode
Van Hollen seeks support for ‘Customers Not Cargo’ Act

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen says his draft bill aims to avoid a repeat of the United Airlines incident at Chicago O’Hare on Sunday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Chris Van Hollen is drafting legislation to make the forcible removal of passengers from commercial airlines illegal.

The Maryland Democrat circulated a “Dear Colleague” letter Wednesday, seeking co-sponsors for what he is billing as the “Customers Not Cargo Act.”

Opinion: You May Rush to Judgment on United Incident — But Don't Rush to Regulate
Market forces may have more impact than legislation

United Airlines passenger David Dao was dragged from flight to make room for airline employees. (Screenshots)

Watching videos of a man bloodied and limp being dragged from an airline seat is disconcerting irrespective of your relative weighting of common sense and the enforceability of contracts. No matter what the legal entitlements of the passenger and United Airlines might be, few will deny that what occurred on Monday’s United flight from Chicago to Louisville was outrageous and should never have occurred,.

Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton is already calling for hearings on the event in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In prior airline situations where outrageous and disconcerting events have occurred, legislators and regulators have rushed to respond to public opinion, and those reactions have been ill-conceived or at the very least burdened with unintended consequences, which, if known, might have resulted in a different response.

D.C. Area Lawmakers to Colleagues: Leave Our Airport Alone
Warn against easing restrictions on long-haul flights into Reagan National Airport

Lawmakers from the D.C. area are concerned about sending more air traffic to Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers from in and around Washington are warning their congressional colleagues against changing local airport rules in a bid to make it easier for them to get back to their home states.

A group of 15 members of Congress, led by Democratic Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia and Benjamin L. Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, along with Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., do not want to see any easing of restrictions on long-haul flights from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport — whose Arlington, Virginia, location is significantly closer to the Capitol building than either of the other major airports in the area.

Senate Preparing to Revive the Delta Queen
Wooden vessel needs an exemption, and the Senate's now set a vote

The Delta Queen riverboat, which has been in dry dock for years, awaits congressional approval for overnight travel on the nation's inland waterways . (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

Before the week’s headline Supreme Court debate, senators are poised to get the Delta Queen back cruising America’s waterways.

The legendary riverboat has been barred from carrying overnight passengers since an exemption to the 1966 Safety of Life at Sea Act for the largely wooden vessel lapsed back in 2008.

Trump Advisers’ Infrastructure Plan Has Big Risks
Could reward investors in projects

President Donald Trump's pick for U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross worked on Trump's proposal for infrastructure (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo).

An infrastructure plan put together by two advisers of President Donald Trump could carry potential risks, economists and transportation experts say.

The plan is based on a paper by Trump economic adviser Peter Navarro, who is director of the National Trade Council, and Wilbur Ross, Trump's pick for Commerce Secretary that was set before the election.

Chao Drives Toward Quick Confirmation
Transportation designee wins bipartisan praise at Commerce Committee

Transportation Secretary-designee Elaine Chao testifies as her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, looks on during her Senate Commerce Committee confirmation hearing on Wednesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

On Wednesday morning, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s most important title in the Senate wasn’t majority leader. It was husband.

“I regret that I have but one wife to give for my country’s infrastructure,” the Kentucky Republican quipped at the confirmation hearing for his spouse, Transportation Secretary nominee Elaine L. Chao. The line was borrowed from former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, whose wife, Elizabeth, once held the same Cabinet post.

Lawmakers Push to Include Digital in Infrastructure Plans
We need firewalls, not physical walls, says Rep. Ted Lieu

California Rep. Ted Lieu said the country is better protected by firewalls than the physical wall President-elect Donald Trump has proposed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As rebuilding the country’s infrastructure looks to be an area President-elect Donald Trump and Democrats can agree on, lawmakers from both parties are trying to make sure the conversation includes digital infrastructure. 

California Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu said digital infrastructure is as vital to the country as roads and bridges.

Michigan Lawmakers Laud Long-Awaited Flint Aid
Congress has approved $170 million in assistance

Michigan Democratic lawmakers, from left, Sen. Gary Peters, Rep. Dan Kildee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Rep. Brenda Lawrence and Rep. John Conyers Jr. attend a news conference on Capitol Hill in September on aid for the Flint water crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Congress has approved aid for the city of Flint, Michigan, which has been grappling with a water contamination crisis since late 2014.

Michigan lawmakers have been working for nearly a year to secure funds to replace water pipes that poisoned the city’s water with lead.

Harry Reid Might Yet Get McCarran’s Name Off Las Vegas Airport
Democrats in Nevada want to rename it after Reid

Retiring Sen. Harry Reid would still like to see former Sen. Patrick McCarran’s name taken off Las Vegas’ airport. (iStock)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid mentioned one piece of unfinished business in his farewell floor speech that could eventually be accomplished thanks to his work electing Democrats in Nevada.

Elaine Chao Expected to Lead Transportation Department
Former Labor secretary is wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Former Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao, right, campaigned frequently with her husband, Sen. Mitch McConnell, in 2014. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

President-elect Donald Trump is expected to nominate former Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao to run the Transportation Department, according to multiple media reports.

Chao served as Labor secretary during the entire administration of George W. Bush, and was deputy Transportation secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

Sanders Calls Trump’s Infrastructure Plan a ‘Scam’
Says it’s ‘corporate welfare’ for Wall Street

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders says he plans to reintroduce his Rebuild America Act next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Sen. Bernie Sanders has denounced President-elect Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal as “a scam.” 

Some Democrats have signaled that updating the nation’s infrastructure might be something they could work with the incoming president on.

Trump Eyes a Bipartisan Idea to Pay for Rebuilt Roads, Bridges
Republicans and Democrats have pitched a national infrastructure bank

Workers oversee heavy machinery in April as they move earth on the National Mall near 7th St. Northwest. President-elect Donald Trump wants to rebuild the country’s infrastructure. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are mulling ways to finance a massive infrastructure-rebuilding project, floating an idea championed by some Democrats as one option to get a legislative package to his desk.

During their bitter presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had championed an infrastructure investment bank while Trump proposed paying for projects by “repatriating” profits U.S. corporations held overseas with a one-time 10 percent tax.

Metro Bypasses Congress, Looks to States to Plug Funding Gap
Fare hikes, service cuts ruled out to address $275 million shortfall

A man waits for a Metro train at the Gallery Place-Chinatown stop. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Washington Metro is facing a $275 million shortfall in its operating budget and will likely look to the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia to fill that hole before asking for more federal government assistance.

That was the assessment of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board Chairman Jack Evans at a Thursday board meeting. Evans categorically rejected any plan to cover the shortfall by reducing services, increasing fares or shifting funds from Federal Transit Administration grants. Instead, Evans said, local jurisdictions — the District of Columbia and its two adjacent states — must cover the gap with a subsidy.