Gary Peters

For GOP, Death of Manufacturing Loan Program Finally in Sight
Unspent money dating back years makes it an easy, yet still elusive, target

Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is no fan of the loan program for energy efficient vehicles. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

One way or another, the Energy Department’s direct loan program for fuel-efficient car manufacturers looks destined for the chopping block.

Once viewed as a lifeline for Detroit’s “Big Three” manufacturers facing economic headwinds even before the onset of the Great Recession, the program is now little more than a kitty of untapped funds appropriated a decade ago. The last major Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program loan was approved conditionally in 2015, but Arconic Inc., whose former parent Alcoa secured the loan to produce lightweight vehicle materials at its Tennessee plant, turned the money down last year.

Five Cabinet Secretaries Face Senate Barrage
Questions range from infrastructure to nuclear waste to the Census

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune's panel hosted five Cabinet secretaries on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not every day — or even every decade — that five cabinet secretaries walk in to testify at the same Senate hearing.

And while Wednesday’s Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing generally focused on President Donald Trump’s proposal to rebuild American infrastructure (and doubts about how to pay for it), senators took full advantage of having so many heavy hitters in one room.

Amid Safety Concerns, Senators Plan Path for Driverless Car Bill
Blumenthal invokes Ralph Nader’s 1965 “Unsafe at Any Speed“

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters, a co-sponsor of a driverless car bill, says he is working to address the reservations of his fellow Democrats. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The sponsors of a Senate bill to set the federal framework for driverless vehicles said Wednesday they were making progress on their effort to pass it by unanimous consent. But they resisted calls to amend the measure and said they may pursue a floor vote instead.

After a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee field hearing at the Washington Auto Show, Chairman John Thune told reporters he will continue to work through safety concerns that three Democratic senators had over the bill. But he said he wouldn’t cave to demands that would undermine the purpose of the legislation.

With Levin Leaving, Dan Kildee Seeks Ways and Means Spot
Third-term Michigan Democrat spent the weekend lobbying leadership

Rep. Dan Kildee, second from left, is angling for a spot on the Ways and Means Committee now that fellow Michigan Rep. Sander M. Levin, second from right, isn’t seeking re-election in 2018. Also pictured, from left, Virginia Rep. Robert C. Scott and Michigan Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With longtime House Ways and Means member Sander M. Levin announcing Saturday he won’t run for re-election next year, his fellow Michigan Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee spent the weekend lobbying leadership for a spot on the influential panel.

Kildee sent letters to each member of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, which is responsible for making committee assignments after the midterms.

Eisenhower Memorial Commission Gets Digging
Dedication slotted for 75th anniversary of WWII VE-Day

An artist’s rendering of the Eisenhower Memorial. (Courtesy the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission)

Sen. Pat Roberts marched to the podium to deliver final remarks at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial’s groundbreaking Thursday.

The Kansas Republican reached into his right pocket and pulled out a folded slip of white paper. Across the back, scribbled in bold black Sharpie, was one word: “PERMIT.”

Lawmakers Push Broad Review of Equifax Security
Democrats cite precedence of reaction to OPM data breach

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown wants Equifax to offer 10 years of free credit monitoring to those affected by the breach. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers are responding to credit-reporting company Equifax’s loss of data on up to 143 million customers with a flurry of proposed legislation, demands for explanations, hearings and calls for regulators to investigate.

Democrats are leading the charge on legislation and investigations while Republicans join in with demands for an explanation from the company and with plans to hold hearings. Members of both parties are seeking details of Equifax’s work for government agencies. Democrats are also trying to pressure Republicans to be at least as tough on Equifax as they were with a government agency that suffered its own breach.

Thune, Peters Divide Over Big Trucks in Driverless Vehicle Bill
“Highly-automated trucks are not ripe for inclusion”

Trucks of Otto, an autonomous trucking company acquired by Uber. (Courtesy Dllu/Wikimedia Commons - CC BY-SA 4.0)

Members of a key Senate committee are divided over whether to include large trucks in legislation that would guide driverless-vehicle regulation in a disagreement that pits safety against jobs in the trucking industry.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said at a hearing Wednesday that autonomous vehicles will improve safety and lower emissions. He said trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds should be included in the legislation. 

Word on the Hill: Eclipse Day
A new general in the House, lawmakers cover some ground over recess

Solar eclipse viewing glasses are going fast in advance of Monday’s solar eclipse across the United States. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The main event of the week comes early.

The peak time to view today’s solar eclipse in Washington, D.C., is 2:42 p.m. But the fun starts around 1 p.m. From our vantage point, the moon will block part of the sun from about 1:17 p.m. to around 4:01 p.m.

Members of Congress Take Recess Road Trips
 

Word on the Hill: Peters’ Motorcycle Ride
Recess activities for Cárdenas, Ferguson and Hudson

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters toured the Aspirus Ontonagon Hospital in Ontonagon, Mich., on his bike ride. (Courtesy Peters via Twitter)

Motorcycle enthusiast Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., took his annual recess motorcycle tour of the Wolverine State this week.

The senator visited a rural airport to talk about President Donald Trump’s budget cuts to Essential Air Service, a government program enacted to guarantee that small communities maintain commercial airline service.