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DeFazio readies 'transformative' infrastructure bill
Zero-emission vehicles, new transit options to be included in plan. Republicans say they have their own ideas

DeFazio says has big ideas for infrastructure. (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio said Tuesday he will push for a “transformative” infrastructure bill that will aim to eliminate carbon emissions from transportation, encourage the government to build carbon-neutral buildings, make renewable fuels more available to airlines and increase transit options, including rail.

DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, will present what he characterizes as a framework to House Democrats on Wednesday morning, with tentative plans to publicly roll out that framework later in the day.

How to pay for infrastructure? Ways and Means will count the ways
Raising long-stagnant fuel taxes is an option, but some Republicans have other ideas. Pay per mile?

DeFazio, who may release "general principles" of his infrastructure bill  as soon as Wednesday, says he prefers paying for it with a higher gas tax.  (File Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When the House Ways and Means Committee meets Wednesday to take its first tentative steps to deciding how to pay for a federal infrastructure bill, its members will revive a perennial battle that could derail the whole debate: whether to raise a gas tax unchanged since 1993.

Since it was created in 1956, the Highway Trust Fund — paid for primarily by a federal gas tax — has largely funded highway construction and maintenance as well as transit.

Report: Speed up drug development with artificial intelligence
But it says new legal, ethical, economic and social questions must be addressed

Senate HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander is among a group of lawmakers who requested the artificial intelligence report by the National Academy of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

More and improved use of artificial intelligence, and an overhaul of medical education to include advances in machine learning, could cut down significantly the time it takes to develop and bring new drugs to market, according to a new joint report by the National Academy of Medicine and the Government Accountability Office.

Before that can happen, however, the United States must address legal and policy impediments that inhibit the collection and sharing of high-quality medical data among researchers, the report said.

Court tells teen plaintiffs it can’t force climate policy changes
Majority agreed the teens showed the federal government ‘has long promoted fossil fuel use despite knowing that it can cause catastrophic climate change’

Climate change youth activists demonstrate at the Supreme Court in September.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A three-judge panel of a federal appeals court said Friday that young climate activists established that government policies worsened climate change but dismissed the activists’ case seeking to force policy changes, ruling it was beyond the court’s power.

In a 2-1 decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel accepted the argument that climate change had accelerated in recent years and that government policies encouraged fossil fuel use even as authorities knew it could have disastrous consequences. But the Constitution doesn’t empower courts to force such sweeping changes to policies at several federal agencies, the majority ruled.

Do chatty senators really face jail time during impeachment?

Former Oregon Sen. Bob Packwood was arrested in 1988 after barricading himself inside his office, locking one door and blocking another with a chair in an attempt to prevent a quorum so that Republicans could stall debate on campaign finance legislation. The sergeant-at-arms escorted Packwood to the Senate chamber, and he was physically carried onto the floor. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Despite a dramatic daily warning, if senators fail to stay silent during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, it’s unlikely that they’ll end up arrested. And no, there is not a Senate jail.

At the beginning of each trial day, Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger will declare, “Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment.”

USMCA bill tough vote for Democrats over lack of environmental protections
Even those who oppose the pact agree it’s a significant improvement over predecessor

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., attends a press conference to discuss climate change on Sept. 17, 2019. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal.

The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough to protect the environment and address the urgency of climate change. He lamented what he called problematic provisions, including “special protections” for fossil fuel companies. But, he approved of its labor protections and voted in favor of advancing the deal. 

Climate-focused Democrats hope for November reward
They seek to solidify themselves as the party of climate action

Jane Fonda, center, and Susan Sarandon, red scarf, march toward the Capitol on Friday during a weekly rally to call for action on climate change. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats know that their “comprehensive” climate plans are unlikely to see the light of day in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate and face vetoes by a president who has at times rejected the scientific consensus on global warming.

But there’s a strategy afoot to solidify Democrats’ election-year banner as the party of climate action and lure young, independent and even Republican voters disgruntled with the Trump administration’s retreat on environmental issues, analysts say.

Emails ensure Boeing scrutiny will continue, DeFazio says
Transportation and Infrastructure chairman questions whether the company has given his panel the ‘full picture’

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., speaks to a reporter in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building on Oct. 23, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The chairman of the committee investigating how the troubled Boeing 737 Max made its way through the Federal Aviation Administration flight certification process questioned on Friday whether the company has given his panel the “full picture” of the jet’s development, saying he believes Boeing may be trying to scapegoat lower-level employees.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he will press Boeing attorneys to release more documents, saying he will continue the investigation into the crash even as his committee pushes toward legislation to prevent similar tragedies.

Emails show Boeing employees derided FAA and worried about 737 Max simulators
Chairmen investigating FAA's handling of ill-fated aircraft say 'incredibly damning' messages show 'troubling disregard for safety'

Boeing 737 Max airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing Field in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Long before two separate Boeing 737 Max airplane crashes killed 346 people, employees of the company exchanged internal messages displaying deep concern about the aircraft’s simulators as well as disdain for federal regulators.

In dozens of pages of messages released to congressional committees investigating the October 2018 crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia and the March 2019 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft in Ethiopia, employees expressed dismay about a flight simulator used to test the aircraft, criticized the culture of the company and bantered about tricking regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration to certify the aircraft.

Trump administration proposal would ease environmental impact reviews for federal projects
Proposal raises stakes for environmentalists fearful of what changes could mean for efforts to combat climate change

A Trump administration proposal would expand the number of projects like pipelines and fossil fuel drilling sites that are eligible to avoid comprehensive environmental impact studies. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images file photo)