Jacob Fischler

Wisconsin GOP’s Lame-Duck Play: ‘A New Philosophy of Governing’
Democrats’ wins do not prevent late play to curtail their authority in new year

The Scott Walker era in Wisconsin is ending much as it began: With a controversial effort to weaken his political opponents that attracted protests and a national spotlight to Madison.

Tuesday, protestors continued to disrupt an extraordinary session of the state Legislature but didn’t change the outcome as both chambers moved to approve a GOP bill to enhance the Legislature’s power at the expense of Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers, who defeated Walker in the Republican’s attempt at winning a third term last month, and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul. Republicans maintained control of both legislative chambers in the Nov. 6 elections.

Can You Run for Congress and President? Depends Where
Politicians being considered for president in 2020 face diverging state laws on current positions

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, signed a law this month clarifying that a candidate for one of the state’s U.S. Senate or House seats can also run in presidential primaries.

Locals nicknamed it Cory’s Law, a cheeky acknowledgment that Sen. Cory Booker is up for re-election in 2020 and is also expected to launch a bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

End of the Road for the Highway King Shusters
For the first time in 46 years, south-central Pennsylvania will not send a Shuster to Congress

EVERETT, Pa. — Bud Shuster leaned away from a desk in his farmhouse as he considered the differences between his chairmanship of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and that of his son, Bill, who succeeded him in Congress and retires at the end of this session.

In his six years as chairman, the younger Shuster checked off all the major items in his committee’s jurisdiction, shepherding long-term authorization bills for roads, transit and aviation and three consecutive water resources development bills to enactment. In an era when Congress was known more for dysfunction and gridlock than delivering major legislation, that was no small feat, and it set a record unmatched since his father’s stint as chairman from 1995 to 2001.

Senate Republicans Eye Monday or Tuesday Floor Vote on Kavanaugh
Schedule assumes Judiciary Committee hearing, markup does not alter GOP plans

Senate Republican leaders want to schedule a floor vote for Monday or Tuesday on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court “unless something derailed it along the way,” according to Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota. 

Thune told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that if all goes according to plan, Republicans could get the procedural gears turning over the weekend. That assumes Thursday’s hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee featuring Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault, does not alter the current trajectory that Senate GOP leaders have set. 

FAA Passage Likely, But Timing Unclear in Senate as Deadline Looms
The current Federal Aviation Administration authorization ends on Sunday

Even after lawmakers in both chambers took a major step toward a long-term Federal Aviation Administration authorization over the weekend, the path to enactment before a Sunday deadline remains uncertain as several other important votes jockey for floor time in the Senate.

The House is scheduled to vote this week on the five-year bill, which members of the House and Senate from both parties agreed to early Saturday morning, but the Senate schedule is less certain.

A Workhorse and a Hard Charger Aim for Transportation Top Spot
Sam Graves and Jeff Denham mostly align on policy, but couldn’t vary more in style

The personalities of the two candidates angling to be the next top Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee may be the starkest difference between them.

As Steering Committee members decide committee leadership posts later this year, they’ll have to choose between behind-the-scenes operator Sam Graves of Missouri and Jeff Denham, a hard-charging Californian best known for nearly forcing House leadership’s hand on immigration votes by advancing a discharge petition earlier this year. 

FAA Authorization Still Grounded in Senate
Congress could be looking at sixth straight extension as Sept. 30 deadline approaches

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration in June of last year. But the measure’s proponents have struggled ever since to get it to the floor, even as another deadline approaches at the end of this month.

Congress could be headed toward its sixth straight extension of FAA authorization if both chambers can’t pass a yet-unfinished conference bill before Sept. 30. House leaders on the issue, who steered easy passage of their measure earlier this year, have blamed the other chamber, which hasn’t passed its own bill.

Key Players in FAA Conference Negotiations
Committee leaders come with their own priorities for FAA reauthorization

As the Sept. 30 deadline to renew Federal Aviation Administration programs approaches, members of both parties are working to reach a deal on a consensus bill that could be acceptable to both chambers.

The process has been slowed because the Senate did not pass its committee-approved bill. Negotiators in an informal conference committee don’t know how many of up to 90 amendments offered to the Senate measure could be in play or whether any senator will object to a final bill that doesn’t include his or her priorities.

Senators Get Informal as FAA Deadline Nears
Reauthorization didn’t make the summer cut. Now senators are looking for a pre-conference shortcut

Staff members on both sides of the Capitol are trying to work around obstacles in the Senate by negotiating “pre-conference” versions of Federal Aviation Administration authorization and water infrastructure bills, according to lawmakers.

Despite the stated goals of the bills’ sponsors, the Senate did not consider either the FAA or water infrastructure measure over the summer, preventing a true conference committee from hashing out differences with the House-passed versions of the FAA and water infrastructure bills.

These GOP Lawmakers Gave Money to California Gas Tax Repeal Push
Party leaders open their campaign committee wallets for an issue that could energize Republican voters

A handful of Republican House members are among the largest contributors to a campaign to repeal California’s gas tax boost, one that could draw party voters to the polls in competitive congressional districts.

The seven lawmakers include House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and second-term Rep. Mimi Walters of California. They have contributed or loaned more than $1 million of the $2.2 million received by a group called “Yes on 6, Repeal the Gas Tax,” according to second-quarter state election reports filed July 31.

After High Hopes in Senate, a Pit Stop for Spending Package
A long list of amendments slows progress, pushing potential floor vote till next week

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell moved Thursday to invoke cloture on the chamber’s four-bill fiscal 2019 spending package, setting up the potential for a floor vote next week.

While House members are already leaving town for August recess, the Senate plans to stick around for part of the month

Burr to Hold Up Water Bill, Slow Others, for Conservation Fund
North Carolina senator: ‘We’re going to vote on it on every vehicle leaving the United States Senate’

Sen. Richard M. Burr will not allow a vote on a key water infrastructure bill unless he receives a commitment for a vote on his legislation to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, senators said.

The North Carolina Republican is also threatening to force senators to vote on his bill as a prelude to action on any other measure that reaches the Senate floor, potentially including the appropriations bill receiving floor consideration this week.

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

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

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.

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

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.

CBO: Harbor Tax Provision in House Water Bill Widens Deficit
Change could increase on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion over a 10-year period

A contested provision that could be in the water infrastructure bill scheduled for House floor debate this week would increase on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion over a 10-year period, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday.

The provision in the water resources development bill as it was introduced would allow for spending from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund without appropriations starting in fiscal 2029 and would increase direct spending by more than $2.5 billion and on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in at least one 10-year window following its effect date in 2029, the CBO said.

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

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

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

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. 

Ryan’s Piecemeal Approach May Keep GOP Infrastructure Push Afloat
But speaker’s strategy of multiple bills could complicate Senate passage

A key piece of the Republicans’ 2018 legislative agenda is shape-shifting.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s pronouncement last week that an infrastructure overhaul will be tackled in multiple bills serves a dual purpose: It keeps hope for one of the president’s top policy priorities alive, while setting more realistic expectations for what will get done this midterm election year.