Obama, Ryan Must Find Common Ground Soon

Ryan will seek the House speakership. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

There could be little President Barack Obama can do to find common ground with Paul D. Ryan, given their deep ideological differences and House conservatives’ inevitable demands for the speaker-in-waiting.  

With Ryan's announcement that he will seek the speakership, all eyes now turn to the Wisconsin Republican's ability to manage his fractious caucus and find just enough common ground with a president many conservatives revile. Ryan will have little time to settle in because of some fast-approaching fiscal deadlines. Congressional leaders must find a way in coming weeks to avoid a potentially catastrophic debt default, then see if they can strike a long-term budget deal.  

Ahead of Recess, Highway Bill Standoff Gets Political (Video)

Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform says a Democratic highway bill violates the group's anti-tax pledge. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

When the Senate returns from the July Fourth recess, lawmakers will have just about two weeks to fix a shortfall in funds for federally-backed highway projects, with both parties again in a dispute over taxes.  

If past is prologue, that means campaign-style events with bulldozers and hard hats will be coming to a city near you, and there still might not be a good solution. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has floated plan to keep highway projects from grinding to a halt — but that solution has already drawn the ire of Republicans.  

Murphy, Corker Call for 12-Cent Gas Tax Boost for Highway Bill

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 2:37 p.m. | Sens. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., are proposing a 12-cent increase in the gas tax to pay for a renewal of highway and transit programs, which could run out of funding by the end of the month .  

"Reaction on the Democratic side has been positive," said Murphy, who noted he spoke with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., about the plan.  

Ban E-Cig Electronic Cigarettes on Airplanes, Senators Say

Boxer is one of seven Democrats urging an immediate ban on electronic cigarettes on airplanes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

It's time to ban electronic cigarettes on airplanes, seven Democratic senators said in a new letter to the Transportation Department chastising the Obama administration for failing to act.  

The signatories on a letter to Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx point to a proposed rule banning electronic cigarettes that's been pending since 2011.  

Alexander, Feinstein Restate Displeasure With In-Flight Phone Calls

Feinstein has sent a letter to the Transportation secretary calling for a ban on in-flight phone calls. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Senate's leading voices against in-flight cellphone calls are at it again.  

Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx calling for a prohibition on voice calls.  

The Giant Transportation Budget Gap in One CBO Chart

The Congressional Budget Office, in one chart, sums up the looming disaster in the nation's highway trust fund:  

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 12.58.12 PM The chart shows the yawning gap between projected revenue for highways and projected spending. That gap is set to grow thanks in large part to two factors: the fact that the gas tax wasn't indexed to inflation and thus is stuck at 1993 levels, and improving fuel efficiency, which reduces gas tax revenue even further. The CBO says if the gas tax had been indexed for inflation in 1993, it would have gone from 18.4 cents a gallon then to 29 cents a gallon today.