Bill Shuster

Five Cabinet Secretaries Face Senate Barrage
Questions range from infrastructure to nuclear waste to the Census

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune's panel hosted five Cabinet secretaries on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not every day — or even every decade — that five cabinet secretaries walk in to testify at the same Senate hearing.

And while Wednesday’s Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing generally focused on President Donald Trump’s proposal to rebuild American infrastructure (and doubts about how to pay for it), senators took full advantage of having so many heavy hitters in one room.

The Fight for a Disappearing District in Pennsylvania
Both parties look for lessons from 18th District special election

Democrat Conor Lamb faces Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in Tuesday’s special election in the 18th District. (Jeff Swensen/Getty Images file photo)

MOON, Pa. — Millions of dollars in outside spending and national media attention have been directed at Tuesday’s special election in southwestern Pennsylvania — all for a district that likely won’t even exist come November.

Democrat Conor Lamb, a former federal prosecutor, is locked in a tight race with Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone in a district President Donald Trump carried by nearly 20 points in 2016. Whoever wins the 18th District race will head to Congress, but he will run for a full term in a newly configured district, thanks to the state Supreme Court imposing a new congressional map ahead of the midterm elections.

House Committee Leadership Is Becoming a Game of Musical Chairs
Term limits, fundraising pressure and reduced clout are taking a toll on GOP chairmen

Reps. Lamar Smith and Robert W. Goodlatte, shown here in 2014, are two of at least eight committee chairmen who are leaving Congress. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

No matter what happens in the November elections, the House of Representatives will be a body transformed.

At least eight of the chamber’s sitting committee chairmen are quitting Congress — and two additional chiefs have already given up their gavels. These exits come at a cost to the institution, as House Republicans will lose policy expertise, political savvy and procedural prowess.

Ryan’s Piecemeal Approach May Keep GOP Infrastructure Push Afloat
But speaker’s strategy of multiple bills could complicate Senate passage

Speaker Paul D. Ryan wants to break an infrastructure overhaul into pieces, moving five to six bills before the August recess. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A key piece of the Republicans’ 2018 legislative agenda is shape-shifting.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s pronouncement last week that an infrastructure overhaul will be tackled in multiple bills serves a dual purpose: It keeps hope for one of the president’s top policy priorities alive, while setting more realistic expectations for what will get done this midterm election year.

Thune Clears Path for Long-Term Aviation Bill This Summer
Commerce chairman abandons effort to change how pilot hours are counted

Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune is dropping a controversial pilot training provision from the aviation bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s decision to drop a controversial provision on pilot training clears a path for lawmakers to complete a long-term aviation reauthorization bill this summer that addresses drones, aircraft certification, safety and other issues.

Thune, the chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said last week he was abandoning his effort to change how pilot hours are counted. That came after House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster gave up the week before on spinning off the air traffic control system from the Federal Aviation Administration. Both proposals encountered stiff resistance in Congress.

Ryan Says Infrastructure Overhaul Will Be Done in 5 to 6 Bills
'We don’t want to do one big bill,' speaker says

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said an infrastructure overhaul is easier to pass if broken into pieces. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Thursday affirmed House Republicans’ intentions to complete an infrastructure overhaul this year but said that the effort will be broken into pieces. 

“We don’t want to do one big bill,” the Wisconsin Republican said at an event in Georgia with Home Depot employees.

Chao Goes Off the Rails on New York-New Jersey Project

Secretary of Transportation nominee Elaine Chao testifies as her husband Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., looks on during her Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing on Jan. 11. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao came to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to answer questions about the administration’s infrastructure proposal Tuesday. But she spent much of the time confirming and defending the administration’s attempt to kill a New York and New Jersey rail program.

“Is the president of the United States personally intervening with the speaker to kill this project?” asked Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., referring to a weekend report in The Washington Post that President Donald Trump asked Speaker Paul D. Ryan to kill funding for the Gateway Program.

New Pennsylvania Map, New Pennsylvania House Ratings
Six races shift in Democrats’ direction, two in GOP’s favor

Under the new lines, Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick’s district shifted from one carried narrowly by President Donald Trump to one carried narrowly by Hillary Clinton. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

If you’ve been wondering what political handicapping is like in a redistricting cycle — or it’s been long enough for you to forget — the Pennsylvania Supreme Court offered a good reminder.

With newly drawn districts, misplaced incumbents and new district numbers, confusion is inevitable. But the bottom line for Pennsylvania is that Democrats had a half-dozen takeover opportunities with the old map and they have a half-dozen takeover opportunities with the new map, although they have a distinctly better chance at gaining those seats.

Curbelo Builds Relationships Over Boquerones and Basketball
Miami congressman uses experience refereeing high school basketball for perspective

Florida Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo says some Cuban restaurants back home in Miami are places that politicians campaigning there make a pilgrimage to. (Thomas McKinless/CQ Roll Call)

When Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo is in Washington, he tends to frequent the Spanish restaurant Joselito and says he has brought many Republican members with him.

“I’ve been here with Bill Shuster, Rodney Davis, David Joyce. I Saw Jared Polis here one night, who is a good friend,” Curbelo said during dinner with Roll Call at the restaurant.

Shuster Hopes to Move FAA Funding Before Infrastructure Bill
Says GOP votes could be sacrificed for bipartisan support

Elevator doors close on House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., as he leaves the House Republican Conference meeting in the basement of the Capitol in 2015. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. — House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster said he intends to try to pass a long-term reauthorization of funding for the Federal Aviation Administration before an infrastructure package advances.

Shuster, who will take a lead role in negotiations on the infrastructure bill, also said he expects to lose some Republican support in order to bring Democrats on board and advance a bipartisan bill.