Peter A DeFazio

Capitol Christmas Tree Glows After Delay in Honor of Bush
Speaker Paul Ryan lights up the ‘People’s Tree’ for his fourth and final time

The Capitol Christmas tree is seen alongside the Capitol Dome after the official lighting in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. (Jerel Flint/CQ Roll Call)

As Speaker Paul D. Ryan flipped the Christmas switch for the last time on Thursday, he paid tribute to a man he called a “beacon of joy.”

“This is my fourth and final time leading this event, and each time the tree is more stunning,” Ryan said before lighting the Capitol Christmas tree.

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.

Donald Trump Once Wanted to Buy the FBI Headquarters, Now House Dems Are Asking Questions
New request sent to agency in charge for documents about potential conflicts

The front of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building on Pennsylvania Ave. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Key House Democrats pressed the head of the General Services Administration to provide more information Thursday about President Donald Trump’s role in the proposal to rebuild the FBI headquarters building on its current footprint on Pennsylvania Ave.

“As a direct result of President Trump’s clear conflict of interest on this matter, we are now requesting information and documents to determine whether the President is making decisions about the FBI headquarters building based on what is best for the country or what is best for his own financial bottom-line,” wrote the five House members, who are all ranking members of relevant committees or subcommittees.

Road Ahead: McConnell and Kavanaugh Set the Tone for the Week
Funding, authorization deadlines must work around Supreme Court chaos

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., exits the senators-only elevator as he arrives in the Capitol on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The dissonance in Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s speech opening the Senate floor Monday set the tone for the week on Capitol Hill.

On the one hand, Republicans and Democrats will be at each other’s throats over how they’re handling the growing number of sexual assault allegations directed at Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. On the other hand, they need to reach out for each other’s hands to ensure they get deals to fund the government past the end of the Sept. 30 fiscal year and meet other important deadlines. 

FAA Authorization Still Grounded in Senate
Congress could be looking at sixth straight extension as Sept. 30 deadline approaches

Los Angeles International Airport in March. Congress could be headed toward its sixth straight extension of FAA authorization if it fails to meet a Sept. 30 deadline. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration in June of last year. But the measure’s proponents have struggled ever since to get it to the floor, even as another deadline approaches at the end of this month.

Congress could be headed toward its sixth straight extension of FAA authorization if both chambers can’t pass a yet-unfinished conference bill before Sept. 30. House leaders on the issue, who steered easy passage of their measure earlier this year, have blamed the other chamber, which hasn’t passed its own bill.

Key Players in FAA Conference Negotiations
Committee leaders come with their own priorities for FAA reauthorization

House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., left, and ranking member Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., both want to do a long-term reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As the Sept. 30 deadline to renew Federal Aviation Administration programs approaches, members of both parties are working to reach a deal on a consensus bill that could be acceptable to both chambers.

The process has been slowed because the Senate did not pass its committee-approved bill. Negotiators in an informal conference committee don’t know how many of up to 90 amendments offered to the Senate measure could be in play or whether any senator will object to a final bill that doesn’t include his or her priorities.

Senators Get Informal as FAA Deadline Nears
Reauthorization didn’t make the summer cut. Now senators are looking for a pre-conference shortcut

Sen. John Thune says negotiating with the House before Senate passage is the best option to avoid a lapse of authorization Sept. 30, even if process questions remain. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call)

Staff members on both sides of the Capitol are trying to work around obstacles in the Senate by negotiating “pre-conference” versions of Federal Aviation Administration authorization and water infrastructure bills, according to lawmakers.

Despite the stated goals of the bills’ sponsors, the Senate did not consider either the FAA or water infrastructure measure over the summer, preventing a true conference committee from hashing out differences with the House-passed versions of the FAA and water infrastructure bills.

CBO: Harbor Tax Provision in House Water Bill Widens Deficit
Change could increase on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion over a 10-year period

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., included a provision in the water infrastructure bill that would allow spending directly from the fund without approval by appropriators. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A contested provision that could be in the water infrastructure bill scheduled for House floor debate this week would increase on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion over a 10-year period, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday.

The provision in the water resources development bill as it was introduced would allow for spending from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund without appropriations starting in fiscal 2029 and would increase direct spending by more than $2.5 billion and on-budget deficits by more than $5 billion in at least one 10-year window following its effect date in 2029, the CBO said.

With a Taste of Regular Order on FAA Bill, Members Want More
Rank and file not optimistic that rule allowing 116 amendments will be used on future bills

House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., left, and ranking member Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., will lead House debate on a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill with 116 amendments. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the modern Congress, it’s almost unheard of for the House to vote on 100-plus amendments to a bill, as the chamber will do Thursday and Friday during debate on a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Rank-and-file members had little explanation for the sudden procedural openness, although some speculated it was related to the bipartisan nature of the FAA measure and the availability of floor time given the slim election-year legislative agenda.

FAA Authorization Headed for House Floor Vote Next Week
Changes to Federal Emergency Management Administration policy also being considered

The House is voting next week on a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

The House will vote next week on a bill that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration and change disaster relief policy to focus more on mitigation than recovery.

In a statement Wednesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster said the House would vote on an aviation bill that would reauthorize the FAA through fiscal 2023 as well as include provisions of a bill previously passed by the House that makes changes to Federal Emergency Management Administration policy.