Aviation

Former Delta pilot named to lead FAA as Chao seeks Max 8 audit
The agency faces questions about its handling of the Boeing 737 Max plane, involved in two catastrophic crashes

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is escorted into her chair by R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, before a Senate Environment and Public Works Senate Committee in Dirksen Building titled “The Administration’s Framework for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” on March 01, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Delta Air Lines executive and pilot Stephen M. Dickson was nominated Tuesday to take over as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, an agency facing questions about its handling of the Boeing 737 Max plane involved in two catastrophic overseas crashes.

Also on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said she had asked the department’s inspector general to conduct a formal audit of the certification process for the 737 Max 8.

FAA: New data led to grounding of 737 Max jets
All Max 8 and 9 models in the air right now ‘will be grounded’ today as soon as they land, Trump told reporters

The Boeing 737-8 is pictured on a mural on the side of the Boeing Renton Factory on March 11, 2019 in Renton, Washington. (Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Updated 5:40 p.m. | The Federal Aviation Administration ordered all Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 9 airliners grounded on Wednesday after enhanced satellite data showed similarities between Sunday’s crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and an October crash of a Lion Air jet in Indonesia.

President Donald Trump announced the decision, which came after the European Union, Great Britain, China and some airlines had already grounded the planes and members of Congress were calling on the FAA to follow suit.

Trump to face reporters after 5 days of silence and a run of bad news
Previous spans of silence have ended with eruptions from POTUS

President Donald Trump, after a five-day break, will face reporters’ questions Wednesday afternoon. Such silence spans have ended with presidential eruptions since he took office. (Photo By Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

ANALYSIS - “Just another quiet day at the White House,” a reporter said to a Roll Call scribe as they left the executive campus Tuesday evening. “Too quiet,” the Roll Call reporter responded, adding: “Can’t last much longer.” The first reporter nodded knowingly and said, “Yeah...”

More than a bit out of character, President Donald Trump has not uttered a word in public since Friday. That is scheduled to change Wednesday afternoon — and anything could happen.

Boeing faces increasing political pressure to ground 737 Max 8
Elizabeth Warren weighs in through her presidential campaign, for one

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., issued a statement from her presidential campaign that Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes should be grounded, adding to a growing chorus of concern about the airplanes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid concerns over the safety of new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the debate is spilling into presidential politics.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among those calling for the United States to join other countries in grounding the planes on Tuesday after two crashes abroad.

Pipelines vulnerable under TSA’s watch
The same agency responsible for airport pat-downs is supposed to be guarding pathways for oil and natural gas

The Transportation Security Administration, better known for patting down passengers heading to their flights, is also in charge of securing about 2.7 million miles of pipelines carrying hazardous liquids, including the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. (Barry Williams/Getty Images file photo)

Nearly 3 million miles of pipelines that crisscross the United States carrying oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids may be vulnerable to cyberattacks as the federal agency responsible for overseeing their security is overburdened with other responsibilities, lawmakers, government auditors and regulators say.

The Transportation Security Administration, or TSA, better known for pat-downs of passengers heading to their flights, is also in charge of securing about 2.7 million miles of pipelines. Most are buried underground in remote and open terrain, but others run through densely populated areas, the Government Accountability Office said in a recent report.

Party unity on congressional votes takes a dive: CQ Vote Studies
Decline more dramatic in the Senate

Of the top six Democrats who broke from their party in 2018, four are no longer in Congress, including Heidi Heitkamp, right. Senators eyeing the presidency, meanwhile, are sticking to their party like glue. Elizabeth Warren had a perfect unity score. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After Democrats and Republicans reached record highs sticking together by party on congressional votes in 2017, those numbers nose-dived in 2018 as lawmakers worked across the aisle on high-profile legislation, including a rewrite of the Dodd-Frank financial law, a package dealing with the opioid crisis, spending bills and an overhaul of the country’s criminal justice laws.

CQ’s annual vote study shows that in the House the total number of party unity votes — defined as those with each party’s majority on opposing sides — fell from 76 percent of the total votes taken in the House in 2017, a record, to 59 percent in 2018. That latter figure is the lowest since 2010, the most recent year of unified Democratic control of Congress. Election years typically have fewer votes and 2018 was no exception — the total number of votes taken in the House, 498, was the lowest since 2002.

The lobbyists: Roll Call’s people to watch in 2019
Are they worried the new Congress will make war on K Street? Do they look worried?

Michael Williams, a longtime banking and finance policy lobbyist, aims to bridge the divide between progressives and his clients. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump looms large on almost every important issue, but it won’t be all about him for some individuals on Roll Call’s list of People to Watch in 2019. 

The financial sector will be learning to survive a less business-friendly environment in the House, and a longtime Democratic lobbyist is well-positioned to lend a hand.

3 Takeaways: Why Trump's media blackout likely won't last much longer
No public events on president's schedule for fifth consecutive day after stream of bad news

President Donald Trump, here leaving the White House in 2017, has not appeared in public since a Friday Rose Garden announcement that he would end a 35-day partial government shutdown. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

ANALYSIS | Where's POTUS? Donald Trump has gone dark — again. But past is typically prologue with this president, meaning his media blackout is unlikely to last much longer.

His public schedule, as released each day by the White House, has offered few clues. Missing are the usual short lists of meetings with lawmakers, conservative leaders and policy stakeholders, replaced by opaque phrases like “THE PRESIDENT has no public events scheduled” and “Closed Press.”

TSA workers might not return to work after shutdown, experts worry
Many screeners are likely finding new jobs, according to some experts, who warn about staffing shortages and security lines

Passengers wait in a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) line at JFK airport on January 09, 2019 in New York City.(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The Transportation Security Administration seemed to hit bottom last fall when a congressional investigation revealed misconduct by senior agency officials, a jury trial elicited testimony of on-the-job sexual harassment, and an employee survey ranked the TSA one of the worst federal workplaces.

But now as thousands of airport screeners skip work during the government shutdown, the TSA is facing a potential crisis that could hinder air travel for months, damage the struggling agency for years, and threaten aviation security.

Senate shutdown talks hastened after airline disruption
Trump announces deal that would open shuttered government agencies and negotiate DHS funding

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the Senate floor after Senate rejected two attempts from Republicans and Democrats to reopen government on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Discussions between Senate leaders of both parties on how to end the 35-day government shutdown picked up with renewed urgency Friday as the record-setting government shutdown began halting flights scheduled to land at LaGuardia Airport — in Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer’s home state of New York.

President Donald Trump announced Friday afternoon that a deal had been reached that would fund shuttered government agencies for three weeks while providing time to negotiate funding for the Department of Homeland Security.