Once a hero, Oregon congressional candidate funds questioned
Alek Skarlatos, a hero soldier-turned-Republican congressional candidate, started a nonprofit shortly after his 2020 defeat in western Oregon, pledging to advocate for veterans “left high and dry” by the country "they put their lives on the line for." The group, which Skarlatos seeded with $93,000 in leftover campaign funds, has done little since then to advance that cause. What it has nurtured, though, are Skarlatos' political ambitions, providing $65,000, records show, to his 2022 bid for a rematch with longtime Democratic Rep. Peter DeFazio in a district stretching from the college town of Corvallis to the Oregon shore.news.yahoo.com
House Dems unveil $547B infrastructure bill amid Biden talks
House Democrats released a plan Friday for spending $547 billion over the next five years on road, mass transit and rail projects, a blueprint for what they want parts of President Joe Biden’s broader infrastructure proposal to look like. The proposal from Rep. Peter DeFazio, the Democratic chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is a policy bill that continues existing programs set to expire and with key pieces of a larger measure President Joe Biden and Republicans are negotiating. Biden is holding another round of talks Friday with the lead Senate Republican negotiator, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.news.yahoo.com
US rail industry defends safety record amid staffing cuts
Several major unions say the significant staff cuts railroads have made in recent years could jeopardize safety, but the major railroads say the new operating model they have adopted is simply helping them become more efficient and hasn’t made the railroads riskier.
Buttigieg pitches 'once in a generation' infrastructure fix
Buttigieg says America's infrastructure needs exceed $1 trillion and that other countries like China are pulling ahead. It's a disparity that Buttigieg is calling a threat to our collective future in prepared remarks to Congress. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)WASHINGTON – Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg called for a once in a generation infrastructure investment Thursday that would address a massive backlog in needed improvements for the nation's roads, bridges and transit systems, while also tackling climate change. “A transportation bill needs to be a transportation bill — not the Green New Deal,” said Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, referring to a sweeping Democratic plan to shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels. We can do this.”At the same time, DeFazio said an infrastructure bill will need to focus on the challenges of the 21st century, a nod to climate change.
Pelosi pledges swift work on major infrastructure package
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)WASHINGTON – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday pledged swift work by Congress on a job and infrastructure package that will be “fiscally sound,” but said she isn't sure whether the next major item on President Joe Biden’s agenda will attract Republican backing. AdBut work on passing infrastructure legislation in a Senate split 50-50 with Vice President Kamala Harris providing a tiebreaking vote will probably prove more difficult. Moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., recently made clear he will block infrastructure legislation if Republicans aren't included. 3 Senate Republican, said he wants to see bipartisan support for an infrastructure legislation. Cost will be a major hurdle in passing an infrastructure plan.
Democratic push to revive earmarks divides Republicans
A dirty word for many Republicans is making the rounds on Capitol Hill -- earmarks. It's a question that's vexing Republicans as they consider whether to join a Democratic push to revive earmarks, the much-maligned practice where lawmakers direct federal spending to a specific project or institution back home. Democratic appropriators in the House see a solution and are proposing a revamped process allowing lawmakers to submit public requests for “community project funding” in federal spending bills. The ranking Republican on the committee, Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, said earmarks would not increase the amount of money spent in a bill. “That’s something I feel pretty strongly about.”Norman worries that earmarks would be used to entice Republicans to vote for bills with expensive price tags.
IG faults Elaine Chao at Transportation over ethics concerns
FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2019 file photo Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao speaks at EPA headquarters in Washington. Scott Applewhite)The Transportation Department’s watchdog asked the Justice Department to criminally investigate Elaine Chao late last year over concerns that she misused her office when she was transportation secretary under President Donald Trump but was rebuffed, according to a report released Wednesday. According to department emails, Chao directed her staff to include her relatives in the official events and high-level meetings during the trip. The IG report said Justice Department officials ultimately declined to take up a criminal review, saying there “may be ethical and/or administrative issues” but no evidence to support possible criminal charges. As a result, the inspector general's office said in the report it was now closing its investigation “based on the lack of prosecutorial interest” from the Justice Department.
Biden team readies wider economic package after virus relief
A White House proposal could come out in March. Democrats passed a $1.5 trillion package in the House last year, but it went nowhere with the Trump administration and the Republican-led Senate. AdDuring the presidential campaign, Biden pledged to deploy $2 trillion on infrastructure and clean energy, but the White House has not ruled out an even higher price tag. “He’s been a long fan of investing in infrastructure — long outdated — long overdue, I should say,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday. Rep. Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told the AP that he foresees a comprehensive House package that will go beyond roads, bridges and public transit.
Federal watchdog blasts FAA over certification of Boeing jet
The inspector general issued 14 recommendations to “restore confidence in FAA’s certification process and ensure the highest level of safety” in future passenger planes. While FAA test pilots knew about changes to the flight system, called MCAS, some key FAA personnel, including engineers, did not. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said the report indicated concealment by Boeing and negligence by the FAA. AdThe same inspector general’s office reported last year that Boeing failed to disclose to the FAA changes it made to MCAS. In January, Boeing agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement with the Justice Department to avoid prosecution for defrauding the FAA.
Robinhood lobbying targets legislation that could hurt its business model
Robinhood is preparing a lobbying effort on key pieces of legislation that if passed, could weigh on its business model. The stock trading start-up registered its in-house team to begin lobbying on Feb. 5, according to a new registration report reviewed by CNBC. The filing gives a first glimpse into what legislation the start-up plans to target in the wake of Joe Biden becoming president and Democrats taking control of Congress. Some bills on the registration report could negatively impact Robinhood's revenue model of profiting off of customer trades. A Robinhood spokeswoman declined to comment on the lobbying plans.cnbc.com
Justice Department Welcomes Passage of The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2020
On Jan. 13, 2021, President Donald J. Trump signed into law the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act of 2020 (the “Act”), which limits the antitrust exemption available to health insurance companies under the McCarran-Ferguson Act. Americans deserve competition in health insurance markets just as they do in any other industry.”The McCarran-Ferguson Act exempts certain conduct that constitutes the “business of insurance” from the federal antitrust laws. This exemption has sometimes been interpreted by courts to allow a range of harmful anticompetitive conduct in health insurance markets. The Justice Department has a track record of successfully enforcing the antitrust laws against health insurers. The Act will help the department build upon those successes by requiring health insurers to play by the same rules as competitors in other industries.justice.gov
Key House Democrats urge FAA to crack down on unruly travelers, rioters ahead of Biden's inauguration
Two key House Democrats on Monday urged the Federal Aviation Administration to crack down on unruly travelers and ensure that participants in last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol don't fly. Their comments come ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and after reports of disruptions on board Washington, D.C.-bound flights ahead of Wednesday's riot at the U.S. Capitol and other flights out of the area afterward. Alaska Airlines on Friday said it banned 14 travelers from a Washington, D.C.-to-Seattle flight. The travelers were "non-mask compliant, rowdy, argumentative and harassed our crew members," according to spokesman Ray Lane. FAA chief Dickson on Saturday warned travelers that they would face hefty fines and potential jail time if they engaged in unruly behavior.cnbc.com
Senate investigators fault FAA over Boeing jet, safety
In a report released Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 the Senate Commerce Committee also said the FAA continues to retaliate against whistleblowers. In a report released Friday, the Senate Commerce Committee also said the FAA continues to retaliate against whistleblowers. Both grew out of concern about the agency's approval of the Boeing Max. The Senate report, however, criticized a key part of the FAA review. It said that Boeing “inappropriately influenced" FAA testing of pilot-reaction time to a nose-down pitch of the plane.
Paris train attack hero makes bid for Congress from Oregon
This summer, the worst wildfires on record burned in Oregon, with climate change and overgrown forests worsening fire conditions. A possible factor in Skarlatos' favor: Thousands of students at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University, who would normally vote in those towns, are learning remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic. His name recognition went only so far, said Christopher McKnight Nichols, associate professor of history at Oregon State University. Of his campaign war chest, over 60% comes from out of state, DeFazio said during their debate. Several GOP state lawmakers display the group's regalia in their Capitol offices.
3% Social Security boost? $1,200 stimulus checks? How to get needed money to seniors
Now, two House Democratic lawmakers are hoping to help retirees with a bill to increase next year's Social Security cost-of-living adjustment. Beyond this bill, both lawmakers have advocated for changing the metric for how Social Security calculates the annual increases to an index more aligned with actual costs seniors incur. In an interview with CNBC.com, DeFazio shared why the emergency raise for Social Security beneficiaries needs to happen, and what it will take for more stimulus aid to pass. The Social Security Administration currently uses the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W. Additional checks would also help seniors cover the costs of everything from food delivery to higher utility bills, he said.cnbc.com
House lawmakers to propose emergency 3% Social Security cost-of-living adjustment
The Social Security Administration announced this week that the cost-of-living adjustment for benefits in 2021 will be 1.3%. Now, two Congressional Democrats — Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and John Larson, D-Conn. — plan to propose a bill to raise that to a 3% emergency increase next year. The bill, currently titled the Emergency Social Security COLA for 2021 Act, is scheduled to be introduced on Friday. The 1.3% raise for 2021 is the second lowest increase in the program's history. The lowest increase occurred in 2017, when benefits went up just 0.3%.cnbc.com
Congress takes another run at airline bailout; fate unclear
Speaker Nancy Pelosi urged the airlines to delay those furloughs while Congress tries to approve the money. United Airlines, which started to furlough 13,000 workers, will undo the furloughs “once Congress has passed legislation ... but they need to act quickly,” said spokesman Frank Benenati. The airlines and their unions are seeking more taxpayer money to prevent furloughs through next March. Congress approved $25 billion in payroll aid six months ago in hopes that the travel industry might be stronger by fall. While Congress works on the matter, “the airline industry must delay these devastating job cuts,” she said.
Pelosi asks airlines to pause furloughs, vowing additional aid, but no deal yet
A United Airlines plane takes off above American Airlines planes on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on October 1, 2020. That aid, meant to help airlines cope with a plunge in bookings because of the coronavirus pandemic, prohibited job cuts until Oct. 1. Pelosi said the additional aid could be part of a stand-alone bill just for airline support or broader coronavirus legislation. "As relief for airline workers is being advanced, the airline industry must delay these devastating job cuts," Pelosi said in a statement. Southwest Airlines doesn't expect to have to furlough workers this year for that reason but CEO Gary Kelly warned employees Thursday that without additional aid, job and pay cuts are possible in the future.cnbc.com
FAA chief tests changes to Boeing's grounded 737 Max
A Boeing 737 MAX jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, takes off on a test flight from Boeing Field, Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020, in Seattle. The MAX was grounded worldwide in early March 2019 after the second of two fatal accidents that together killed 346 people aboard almost-new aircraft. Dickson said he landed the plane twice and also did “some air work maneuvers.”The Max has been grounded since March 2019, after the second crash. Zipporah Kuria, a British citizen whose father died in the second Max crash, called Dickson's flight “a gimmick” to reassure the public. Dickson said the FAA is working closely with other global regulators and being transparent in its review of the plane.
Panel's report blasts Boeing, FAA for crashes, seeks reforms
But both the agency and Boeing have said certification of the Max complied with FAA regulations, the 246-page report said. He said the committee won't scrap the delegation program, and he hopes to reach agreement on reforms before year's end. Committee investigators said they found several instances in which Boeing concealed information about MCAS from the FAA and airlines. But there was no evidence that they reported this to the FAA, the report said. According to the report, Boeing wanted to keep details about MCAS from the FAA so it wouldn't require additional pilot training.
Veteran House incumbents cling to seats as districts evolve
But there’s a smaller category of lawmakers like Peterson and GOP Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio who also merit attention: long-term incumbents of both parties fighting to preserve their careers. Over 90% of House incumbents are usually reelected, thanks to name recognition and campaign fundraising advantages. “There are people who traditionally voted Republican who don't identify with the current Republican Party," Schroder, 43, a businesswoman and local public health official, said in an interview. Democratic and Republican campaign committees and other organizations allied with party leadership are aiming the bulk of their spending at each others' softest seats and defending vulnerable incumbents. The Congressional Leadership Fund, aligned with House GOP leadership, planned to spend $3.3 million more, which Republicans said could grow.
Airlines, unions pin hopes for more payroll cash on politics
Unions are gaining support in Congress for another $32 billion in federal aid to protect airline workers from layoffs for another six months. In March, companies got $32 billion to help cover payroll costs for six months in exchange for not laying off workers. Thirteen airline unions have joined to lobby Congress for a six-month extension of the payroll provision. Major airlines support the extension, but they are keeping a low profile. American Airlines notified 25,000 workers, Delta Air Lines warned more than 2,500 pilots, and smaller airlines also sent out notices.
Spirit warns of layoffs; aid for contractors being examined
Separately, key members of Congress said they are investigating aviation contractors that took federal payroll aid and then laid off thousands of workers. Airlines and airline contractors who received cash from a $32 billion pool of federal payroll aid agreed not to lay off workers until Oct. 1. Airline labor unions are lobbying Congress for six more months of federal aid. Some contractors who received money laid off workers anyway, according to three Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. At Spirit, the pilots union said it was notified Wednesday that 806 pilots could be furloughed, or terminated with rehiring rights.
House approves $1.5T plan to fix crumbling infrastructure
Democrats hailed the House bill, which goes far beyond transportation to fund schools, health care facilities, public utilities and affordable housing. The White House promised a veto if the measure reaches the president's desk. No formal proposal has emerged, although the White House has suggested the next virus response bill could include an infrastructure component. The centerpiece of the House legislation is a nearly $500 billion, 5-year surface transportation plan for roads, bridges and railways. The White House said in its veto threat that the proposal is heavily skewed toward programs that would disproportionately benefit Americas urban areas."
Democrats protest removal of Transportation watchdog
The Democratic chairs of three House panels on Tuesday demanded that Mitch Behm be reinstated immediately as acting inspector general. Behm's removal is the latest in a series of politically motivated firings of inspectors general by President Trump,'' the lawmakers wrote. a career employee who has served as acting inspector general since January. Trump has designated Howard Elliott, head of a Transportation Department agency that oversees pipeline safety, to replace Behm as acting inspector general. Still, the lawmakers asked for information regarding ongoing audits, inspections, investigations, evaluations, reviews and other communications regarding Behm's removal and Elliotts qualifications to be inspector general.
Frontier Airlines to check passenger temperatures. Too high, you won't fly
Frontier Airlines will soon become the first U.S. carrier to check passenger temperatures before allowing people to get on board. Frontier has ordered five hundred infrared thermometers so its gate agents are ready to screen passengers starting June 1. Before boarding, passengers and Frontier crew members will have their temperatures checked at the gate. If the second temperature check is still 100.4 or higher, the passenger or crew member will not be allowed on that flight. Earlier this week, Air Canada became the first airline in North America to say it will start checking passenger temperatures before flights.cnbc.com
Ex-NTSB official: Shocking Boeing 737 Max messages 'paints a bad light' but no new safety risks
"It paints a very bad light on Boeing, especially in the wake of two 737 Max accidents," said Greg Feith, formerly of the National Transportation Safety Board. Over 100 pages of internal messages released Thursday by Boeing showed employees bragging about pressuring regulators to approve the now-grounded 737 Max without requiring pilots to undergo simulator training. The FAA, for its part, said the newly released documents don't present any safety risks that weren't already known. I think overall yes, it paints a very bad light on Boeing, especially in the wake of two 737 Max accidents," he said on "Squawk Box." "And compare and find out if, in fact, these organizational issues did have a very detrimental effect on safety," Feith said.cnbc.com
'Damning' Boeing messages reveal efforts to manipulate regulators of 737 Max
Boeing shared the messages with the Federal Aviation Administration and lawmakers, one of whom called them "damning." In messages from April 2017, one Boeing employee told another: "This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys." Another message showed a Boeing employee hopeful they could "gang up" on regulators and steer them "in the direction we want." A Boeing employee asked a colleague in a February 2018 message: "Would you put your family on a MAX simulator-trained aircraft? Boeing had told regulators to remove simulator training from requirements before the FAA approved the jets, which became Boeing's best-selling aircraft, in 2017.cnbc.com
U.S. lawmaker says Uber must take action after disclosing sexual assault reports
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee urged Uber Technologies Inc to take action after the company disclosed on Thursday it received over 3,000 reports of sexual assault related to its 1.3 billion rides in the United States last year. Uber, which operates in 70 countries, said the report showed its commitment to transparency to improve accountability and safety industry-wide. In the report, Uber said 99.9% of its 2.3 billion U.S. trips in 2017 and 2018 ended without safety incidents. In October, Uber and rival Lyft Inc declined to appear in front of DeFazios committee at a hearing related to the ride-hailing industry. They dont share data on the prevalence of assaults on their platforms.Lyft on Thursday said it was committed to releasing its own safety report and sharing information on unsafe drivers.feeds.reuters.com
Democratic lawmakers question FAA decisions on Boeing safety issues
REUTERS/Erin Scott/File PhotoThe issues involve the 737 MAX rudder cable and lightning protection for fuel tanks on the 787 Dreamliner. Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Representative Rick Larsen, who chairs the aviation subcommittee, said in a letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson that FAA management ultimately overruled the technical specialists after Boeing objected. That action raises questions about how the agency weighs the validity of safety issues raised by its own experts compared to objections raised by the aircraft manufacturers the FAA is supposed to oversee, the lawmakers said in the letter. The lawmakers, who have been probing two deadly 737 MAX crashes, demanded a list of detailed answers from the FAA by Nov. 21. If accurate, that is an astonishing fact that suggests either willful neglect of the federal aviation regulatory structure or an oversight system in need of desperate repair.The FAA safety office rejected Boeings lighting protection change in February but was overruled in March by FAA management, the lawmakers said.feeds.reuters.com
Democrats question FAA decisions on two Boeing safety issues
FILE PHOTO: Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) speaks during a House Transportation and Infrastructure Aviation Subcommittee hearing on "State of Aviation Safety" in the aftermath of two deadly Boeing 737 MAX crashes since October, in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 17, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File PhotoWASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Democratic U.S. House lawmakers said on Thursday the Federal Aviation Administration overruled agency technical specialists on two Boeing Co safety issues involving the 737 MAX rudder cable and lightning protection for the 787 Dreamliner that it said could be potentially catastrophic.Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Rick Larsen, who chairs the aviation subcommittee, said in a letter that FAA management ultimately overruled after Boeing objected and raise questions about how the agency weighs the validity of safety issues raised by its own experts.feeds.reuters.com
U.S. House Democrats to continue probe after Boeing testimony
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the head of its aviation subcommittee said on Monday that it will continue its investigation into two fatal 737 MAX crashes after Boeings testimony prompted new questions. FILE PHOTO: Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg testifies before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee during a hearing on the grounded 737 MAX in the wake of deadly crashes, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2019. Our investigation shows that from almost the start, Boeing had a bad design on MCAS with a single point of failure. Then, Boeing couldnt even meet its own design requirements. MCAS was fundamentally flawed, and according to Boeings own analysis, could result in catastrophic consequences in certain cases, the letter said.feeds.reuters.com
Watch Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testify before the House on 737 Max crashes
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg is back on Capitol Hill on Wednesday for a second congressional hearing at 10 a.m. ET about two deadly crashes of the 737 Max. At one tense moment in the hearing, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., equated the 737 Max to "flying coffins." A key issue is how Boeing marketed the 737 Max to customers around the world, promising minimal training for pilots to transition from older models of the 737, which Boeing first introduced in 1967. Before the 737 Max debuted, airline pilots received computer-based training to transition from older models of the plane.cnbc.com
Lawmaker blames investors for Boeing's race to sell troubled 737 Max: 'This all starts on Wall Street'
Boeing raced to develop the 737 Max to keep up with Airbus, which debuted its fuel-efficient, single-aisle competitor, the A320neo, a year before Boeing's version. The Boeing 737 Max has been grounded since mid-March after two nearly-new 737 Max planes crashed within five months of each other. The plane is a new model of Boeing's 737, an aircraft that has been flying since the 1960s and is the best-selling of all time. Airbus's newly re-engined A320s started flying more than a year before Boeing's 737 Max. A review by international air safety regulators, commissioned by the FAA found that more certification work for the 737 Max was outsourced to Boeing than originally planned.cnbc.com
U.S. House panel 'strongly' urges Uber, Lyft to take part in hearing
An Uber pick-up location is pictured in San Diego, California, September 30. REUTERS/Mike BlakeWASHINGTON (Reuters) - The chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee strongly urged Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) and Lyft Inc (LYFT.O) to participate in a hearing set for Wednesday on issues facing the ride hailing industry. In letters to the companies chief executives, Representative Peter DeFazio said both companies had declined to participate at the hearing. DeFazio said he intended to pursue legislative solutions to address numerous issues plaguing the ride hailing industry, many of which will be raised at this hearing. If you do not send a representative to testify at the hearing, you leave the committee little choice but to make these policy decisions without your input.feeds.reuters.com
U.S. committee seeks to interview Boeing engineer on safety of 737 MAX
FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX aircraft at Boeing facilities at the Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, September 16, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File PhotoThe engineer said in the complaint filed this year that during the development of the 737 MAX, Boeing had rejected a safety system to minimize costs, the New York Times had reported nyti.ms/2nOUo1J earlier. Boeing declined to comment on the Seattle Times report. Boeings submission cited an estimate that full compliance would cost more than $10 billion, the Seattle Times said. These reports certainly add to my concern that production pressures may have impacted safety on the 737 MAX, which is exactly why its so critical we get to the bottom of this, DeFazio said.feeds.reuters.com
Pipeline rules adopted years after deadly explosion, spills
U.S. transportation officials on Tuesday adopted long-delayed measures that are meant to prevent pipeline spills and deadly gas explosions but don't address recommended steps to lessen accidents once they occur. The new rules from the Department of Transportation apply to more than 500,000 miles of pipelines that carry natural gas, oil and other hazardous materials throughout the U.S. The rules require companies to more closely inspect underground pipelines, including in rural areas and after catastrophic weather events. Federal regulators are expected to soon release their proposals for pipeline shut-off valves and rupture detection equipment. Congress also is considering changes to the government's pipeline safety rules through legislation that would re-authorize the program for the next four years.chicagotribune.com