transportation

Senate chairman worried ‘Real ID’ will shock air travelers
Airport security set to require enhanced driver’s licenses in one year

The Senate Commerce chairman worries passengers will be caught by surprise when airports begin requiring Real IDs to pass through security. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images file photo)

A post-9/11 law designed to keep people from using fake IDs to board airplanes is one year away from taking effect, but the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee worries that it’s destined to create “Y2K-type disruption” at the nation’s airports in October 2020.

Even though most states are issuing Real IDs — enhanced driver’s licenses required with the passage of a 2005 law  — Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker said he worries passengers who don’t have them and don’t know they need them will be caught by surprise on Oct. 1, 2020, when airports begin requiring the enhanced identification to pass through security.

Draft stopgap would protect Ukraine aid, deny wall flexibility
Draft CR doesn’t grant administration request to use CBP funds to build sections of southern border wall outside of Rio Grande Valley Sector

North Carolina Highway 12 leading onto Hatteras Island is covered with sand after Hurricane Dorian hit the area on Sept. 6. The draft stopgap spending bill being circulated by Democrats would accommodate a White House request to speed up disaster relief spending for Dorian cleanup as other tropical disturbances still threaten. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The measure would also accommodate a White House request to allow an increased rate of disaster relief spending as cleanup from Hurricane Dorian continues and other tropical disturbances still threaten

House Democrats are circulating a draft stopgap spending bill to fund government agencies beyond the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year that would prevent the White House from blocking military assistance to Ukraine and money for a variety of foreign aid-related programs.

Senate appropriations process continues to devolve
Labor-HHS-Education and State-Foreign Operations spending bills mired in abortion dispute

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., has seen the Senate’s appropriations process begin to fray this week. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate appropriators have abandoned plans to mark up two spending bills Thursday that have become mired in a partisan dispute over abortion policy.

The Appropriations Committee announced it will postpone consideration of its fiscal 2020 Labor-HHS-Education bill and its State-Foreign Operations bill. As of Wednesday evening, the panel still planned to take up its Defense and Energy-Water bills at a full committee markup, along with a measure that would divvy up total discretionary spending among the 12 subcommittees.

Retiring lawmakers will face tough market on K Street
‘K Street is not hungering for former members,’ senator-turned-lobbyist Norm Coleman says

In most cases, it’s congressional staff members who K Street really clamors for. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

K Street recruiters are poring over the list of 21, and counting, lawmakers planning to exit Congress, but the lobbying sector may offer a shrinking supply of big-money gigs heading into the 2020 elections. 

As more House members and senators consider making their escape from Capitol Hill, the realities of the K Street economy and the well-worn revolving door will be among their considerations, say insiders at lobbying firms and downtown headhunters.

White House pushes ban on Chinese-made buses, rail cars
Advocate for ban says state-backed Chinese companies can underbid domestic competition and drive them out of business

A MARC commuter train leaves a station in Brunswick, Md. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

The White House wants China to stay out of the U.S. mass transit business, whether it’s bus transit or passenger rail.

In a statement of policy before the House and Senate get together in a conference committee to work out their differences in a wide-ranging Pentagon policy bill, the White House said it supports a Senate provision that would bar federal transit funds from being used to buy transit vehicles manufactured by state-owned or state-controlled enterprises, including those from China.

Senate biofuel advocates want a piece of transportation bill
The bill would set aside $1 billion to build charging and fueling stations for electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles

Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states while leaving out rural America. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A provision in the Senate’s surface transportation bill that would help pay for charging and refilling stations for zero- or low-emissions vehicles should also support more stations for biofuels like ethanol, say two Midwestern senators.

The bill would authorize spending on highways and bridge projects for five years. Republican Sens. Joni Ernst of Iowa and Mike Rounds of South Dakota say incentives in the bill would only benefit wealthy people in coastal states who can afford electric-, hydrogen- and natural gas-powered vehicles, while leaving out rural America.

Highway bill upping spending by a quarter gets OK from Senate committee
The current five-year law funding surface transportation programs expires Sept. 30, 2020.

Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said. “The bill will speed up project delivery will cut Washington red tape, so projects can get done faster, better, cheaper and smarter.” (File photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 21-0 Tuesday to advance a $287 billion bill that would fund the repair and maintenance of  roads and bridges over five years, expedite permitting processes for major infrastructure projects and make transportation systems more resilient to climate change effects.

The bill, which would increase spending by 27 percent over the current authorization, has the support of President Donald Trump, although he has walked away from broader infrastructure talks.

Amtrak IG details Union Station security deficiencies
Report outlines car driving onto tracks, doors propped open, security guards not checking permits

Union Station has grave security vulnerabilities, according to a report by Amtrak’s inspector general. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Security shortcomings at Amtrak’s second busiest station, Washington Union Station, have allowed an unauthorized car to drive onto the tracks and continue to leave the transportation hub and its patrons at risk, according to a report by Amtrak’s inspector general.

The report found that an entrance to Union Station is vulnerable to trespassers; interior doors are not secure; video surveillance cameras are not operational; and the company’s incident reporting process and radio limitations hamper the Amtrak police force’s response to security incidents at the station that served more than 5 million riders in the 2018 fiscal year.

Road bill would hike spending by 25 percent, speed permits and add climate title
The bill would reauthorize funding for surface transportation programs, starting when current law lapses at end of September 2020

Senate Environment and Public Works chairman John Barrasso, in light of a new bill that aims to increase funding for repair of roads and bridges and that this can 'make the roads safer for every family driving on them. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A bill that aims to increase funding by more than 25 percent for the repair and maintenance of roads and bridges, and expedite federal approvals of large infrastructure projects was released Monday by the Senate public works panel, which set a Tuesday markup for the legislation.

The still unnumbered bill by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee would reauthorize funding for surface transportation programs for five years, starting when the current law lapses at the end of September 2020.

Boeing 737 Max grounded following international accidents, downs U.S. export numbers
The downturn in deliveries hit the U.S. trade account hard in May, when U.S. exports of civilian aircraft fell $2 billion

Boeing 737 Max airplanes are stored on employee parking lots near Boeing Field, on June 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. After a pair of crashes, the 737 Max has been grounded by the FAA and other aviation agencies since March 13, 2019. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The downturn in Boeing Co. deliveries caused by the grounding of its best-selling airliner in the wake of two international accidents is having a direct impact on U.S. export numbers.

Company officials said Wednesday that they expect the Boeing 737 Max to be grounded at least through October, shaving billions of dollars from revenue, as they reported an after-tax charge of $4.9 billion related to the disruption of aircraft deliveries.