Aviation

Driverless Industry Surges Forward While Hill Hiccups on Regulation
Two years after Sen. Thune’s test drive, still no laws from Congress

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., prepares to ride in the 2014 Chrysler 300c, during an exhibition of self-driving cars for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, on March 15, 2016. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. John Thune was test-driving a car of the future when he ran into a very 20th-century problem: traffic.

In 2016, Washington’s local laws forced Thune’s autonomous-capable Chrysler sedan to motor into neighboring Virginia before it could show off the no-hands navigation. That’s where the South Dakota Republican got stuck in a tide of commuters.

Tornado Strikes Congressman’s Hometown, Grazes McDonald’s His Dad Built
Rodney Davis breaks out the chain saw after rare December tornadoes

The McDonald’s co-owned by Davis’ dad and brother took a hit when a tornado passed through town. (Courtesy Rep. Rodney Davis)

After a rare December tornado hit his hometown in central Illinois over the weekend, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis is on cleanup duty. 

While his own family and property went unharmed, many neighbors got hit hard. And the twister banged up the sign of the business where Davis first worked as a teenager — a local McDonald’s franchise built by his dad.

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

Bud Shuster, right, wipes his eye as he congratulates his son, Bill, for winning the Republican nomination to fill his seat in 2001. (Gary M. Baranec/AP)

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.

Google Still K Street’s Top Tech Spender
Big year for lobbying so far across the board, but lame-duck ‘Christmas tree’ probably ‘not going to happen’

Google leads in tech when it comes to lobbying, spending about $16.4 million so far this year. Regulation of self-driving cars was one area of interest. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

The mayhem and political disruption of the Trump administration and the coming midterm elections haven’t killed business on K Street this year, as health care, technology and business interests now look to action during a lame-duck session.

Some of the nation’s biggest spenders on federal lobbying, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Realtors, are on pace to exceed their tabs from last year, according to recently filed lobbying disclosures. And among K Street top’s firms, some outfits reported an increase in lobbying revenue this year when compared with last year, with business fueled by passage of such measures as an opioids bill and consternation about trade policy and tariffs.

Budget Overhaul Proposals Likely to Stay in Play After Nov. 30
Joint Committee expected to offer recommendations next month

House Budget Chairman Steve Womack, R-Ark., says that proposals that aren’t accepted by other lawmakers could work their way into future legislation. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The legislative proposals under development by the Joint Select Committee on Budget and Appropriations Process Reform could enjoy a life of their own after the special panel’s work is done later this year.

Members of the 16-member bicameral committee are hoping to agree on a package of proposed changes to improve the budget process by a Nov. 30 deadline, allowing their recommendations to be submitted to Congress for action.

Duncan Hunter Calls in Backup to Accuse Opponent of Being National Security Risk
Three retired generals who are lobbyists back up Hunter’s allegations against Campa-Najjar

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., arrives for the House Republican Conference meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, imperiled by an indictment over campaign finance law allegations, has circulated a letter in the final weeks of his re-election campaign — signed by three retired generals — asserting his opponent presents a national security risk.

Critics say the letter doubles down on a racist line of attack based on Democratic opponent Ammar Campa-Najjar’s Arab heritage.

Bipartisan Opioids Bill Explained
Podcast, Episode 123

Oxycodone pain pills prescribed for a patient with chronic pain lie on display in Norwich, Conn. (John Moore/Getty Images)

CQ Health reporter Sandhya Raman explains what's in the sweeping opioids bill that Congress cleared on Oct. 3 – just in time for lawmakers to campaign on the issue before the November midterm elections.

Floor Charts for the Floor Show
Our favorite garish visual aids from a month of congressional floor-watching

(Courtesy of @FloorCharts screenshot of C-SPAN)

Guilty headshots, crumb debates and George Washington’s face— watching the action on the House and Senate floors can be a thankless task. But the floor charts make it all worthwhile.

Lawmakers like these oversized and sometimes garish visual aids because they help them get their points across. The Twitter handle @FloorCharts posts some of the daily highlights, and Roll Call now provides a monthly roundup of the best of the best.

Senate Clears Big Aviation, Opioid Legislation Under Shadow of Brett Kavanaugh and FBI
Pending water resources deal could be last major legislative item before Election Day

A reauthorization of the FAA will be among the final pieces of big-ticket legislation to pass before Election Day. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate’s never-ending Supreme Court drama continued to overshadow a pair of bipartisan legislative wins — with at least one more expected before Election Day.

As senators awaited a supplemental report from the FBI about sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, they cleared for President Donald Trump a big bipartisan bundle of bills to combat the opioid scourge and a long-awaited reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

7 Ways Congress Might Make Your Next Airline Flight a Little Less Terrible
Full FAA reauthorization is the next legislation before the Senate

The Senate is debating a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration this week, and on the line might be efforts to make air travel better for passengers. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate is getting ready to send to President Donald Trump a bipartisan reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration that might make the commercial flying experience just a little less awful.

“Relief could soon be on the way for weary airline passengers facing smaller and smaller seats,” Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, said when the deal was announced.