Transportation & Infrastructure

Jeff Denham Claims He’ll Be Transportation Chair — But What About Sam Graves?
Both GOP lawmakers want to lead panel; Steering Committee will decide

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., said at an event Friday that he’s going to be the next Transportation Committee chairman, ignoring the other member running to head the Transportation and Infrastructure panel. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Rep. Jeff Denham told a local GOP women’s group Friday that he will be the next House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman, ignoring the fact that he is not the only member running for the position, the Republicans are far from a lock to hold their majority and Denham himself faces a potentially competitive race. 

The panel’s current chair, Pennsylvania Rep. Bill Shuster, is retiring. Missouri Rep. Sam Graves and Denham are both running to replace him. The Republican Steering Committee, a panel of 30-some members primarily comprised of GOP leadership and regional representatives, selects committee leaders.

As Trump Looks to Outer Space, Senate Dems Put In a Word for Earth
They were there to hear about NASA’s ‘search for life,’ but Democrats wanted to talk about climate change

Space, Science and Competitiveness Subcommittee Chairman Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and ranking member Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., revealed differing visions for NASA’s science mission at a Wednesday hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump may be known for flip-flopping on issues, but he hasn’t backed away from his lofty goals in outer space. His push for a military “space force” and boots on the Red Planet has some in Congress trying to bring him back to Earth.

As senators heard Wednesday about NASA’s “search for life” in the galaxy, some Democrats wanted to talk about climate change.

Lynch Wants Oversight of ‘Questionable’ TSA Program
Congressman says ‘Quiet Skies’ has marshals tracking 200,000 passengers per year without probable cause

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said he wants a bipartisan investigation of the Transportation Security Administration's "Quiet Skies" program. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call).

Rep. Stephen Lynch wants Republicans to hold hearings on the Transportation Security Administration’s “Quiet Skies” program.

The Massachusetts Democrat sent a letter to House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy about the program, in which undercover air marshals reportedly monitor air travelers, MassLive reported. 

Remember Infrastructure? Bill Shuster Says He’s Got a New Plan
Trump administration’s earlier effort fell flat

Infrastructure is on the mind of House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., as he prepares to leave Congress at the end of this session. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Missouri Lawmakers Want Congressional Action After Duck Boat Tragedy
Comes after 17 people died, including nine from the same family

Rep. Billy Long said, “We’ve got to do whatever we can to prevent anything similar to this happening” of the duck boat sinking in his district. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Billy Long wants congressional action after a duck boat sinking in his district killed 17 people.

“We’ve got to do whatever we can to prevent anything similar to this happening, if at all possible,” the Missouri Republican said.

Thune Adding TSA, NTSB Bills to FAA Authorization
‘This may be our one shot at actually moving a major piece of legislation’

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune is including additional transportation-related bills in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, he said in a Wednesday interview.

In an effort to broaden the appeal of a four-year FAA authorization bill, he was including other committee-approved bills to authorize the Transportation Security Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. The move is also an effort to clear as much of the committee’s business as possible when an opportunity for floor time arises, he said.

Marc Short Creates Another Void in the White House
Trump has ‘highest turnover of top-tier staff of any recent president,’ professor says

Marc Short, White House legislative affairs director, outside the Senate Republican policy lunches in the Capitol in January. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short will leave his post this summer after helping President Donald Trump secure tax cuts, a Supreme Court justice, eliminate part of the Obama-era health law, open the Arctic for energy extraction, and nix a slew of federal regulations.

Short — with his signature shaved head — was the most visible Trump administration official on Capitol Hill, often chatting with reporters as he traversed the hallways going from meetings with leadership and rank-and-file members about the president’s legislative whims and demands. Affable yet firm, Short seemed eager to joust with reporters on cable news, the Hill and even under the blistering summer sun in the White House’s north driveway.

Authorized Flood Projects Left High and Dry on Funding
Desperate cities fear the next floods as Congress dawdles

Residents look down a flooded street in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in June 2008. The city is still recovering from some of its worst flooding on record. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

Ten years ago this month, the Cedar River overflowed into Cedar Rapids, Iowa, destroying a wide swath of the city’s downtown and residential neighborhoods.

The flooding caused $5.4 billion in property damage, according to the city. It affected more than 1,000 blocks of homes and businesses, City Hall, the county courthouse and hundreds of other buildings.

Senator Makes Progress in Crusade Against In-Flight Phone Calls
Alexander touts language in transportation spending bill

Sen. Lamar Alexander continues to work to block phone calls on commercial flights. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Lamar Alexander is making progress in his campaign against cell phone calls on commercial airline flights.

The Tennessee Republican has been touting the inclusion of language in the Senate version of legislation to fund the Department of Transportation that would direct Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao to finalize a ban on voice calls during flights, as regulations and technology change regarding cell phone use.

Trump Demands Canada Take Down ‘Trade Barriers’
‘This is not a trade war. It’s a trade discussion,’ says White House economic adviser Kudlow

President Donald Trump said “The United States has been taken advantage of for many decades on trade. Those days are over.” (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Updated 10:54 a.m. | President Donald Trump on Friday demanded Canada “open their markets and take down their trade barriers!” as he threatened more tariffs against America’s northern neighbor.

Trump alleged in a tweet that Canada has “treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time,” calling the Canadian government “Highly restrictive on Trade!”

Farenthold’s New Employer Wants AG Opinion Whether Hiring Was Legal
Former congressman dodges questions: ‘I’m not talking to reporters. I’m a private citizen now’

The Calhoun Port Authority is facing criticism for hiring former Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Disgraced former Rep. Blake Farenthold’s new employer is seeking the opinion of Texas’ attorney general about the legality of his hiring.

The Calhoun Port Authority is asking whether Farenthold’s hiring violated the Texas Open Meetings Act, the Victoria Advocate reported.

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FAA Authorization Headed for House Floor Vote Next Week
Changes to Federal Emergency Management Administration policy also being considered

The House is voting next week on a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The House will vote next week on a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and change disaster relief policy to focus more on mitigation than recovery.

In a statement Wednesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster said the House would vote on an aviation bill that would reauthorize the FAA through fiscal 2023 as well as include provisions of a bill previously passed by the House that makes changes to Federal Emergency Management Administration policy.

Big Plans for Infrastructure Fade to Business as Usual
As lawmakers return from recess, their infrastructure agenda looks a lot like any other year’s

While President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul D. Ryan seem to be on the same page when they talk about breaking up an infrastructure overhaul into several bills, many of those smaller measures would have happened anyway. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers returning from a two-week recess Monday may find that the debate over infrastructure looks a lot like routine congressional discussion of transportation bills.

Congress will go to work on aviation reauthorization and waterway and port projects, setting aside a comprehensive infrastructure plan favored by the administration for more discussions.

Metro Seeks Stable Federal Funding as States Set to Pony Up
Plan could hit a stumbling block in President Donald Trump, who has proposed deep cuts

A WMATA Metro Red Line Metro train pulls into Metro Center in Washington in 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After years of inconsistent funding and budget shortfalls, the Washington Metro is finally on track to get a boost in funding in fiscal 2019 from the District of Columbia, Virginia and Maryland, which would clear the way for the transit system to pursue federal dollars.

The District and its two neighbors would increase the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s fiscal 2019 funding by $126 million over the current $374 million if legislation is enacted in all three jurisdictions. Once those funds are approved, WMATA will also look to continue current federal funding at $150 million per year for the next 10 years, spokeswoman Sherri Ly confirmed Thursday.