Senate confirms Bradbury after fight over ‘torture memos’

The Senate on Tuesday narrowly confirmed Steven Bradbury to join the Department of Transportation, with two Republicans voting with Democrats in opposition over Bradbury’s authorship of so-called torture memos during the George W. Bush administration.

The 50-47 vote came after an impassioned plea from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who joined Democrats in a push to derail Bradbury’s confirmation as the general counsel at DOT. McCain did change one mind, however, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) voting no after crossing the aisle to support Bradbury on a key procedural vote Monday.

Manchin said in an interview after the vote that he "would try to be supportive of any administration" on nominees and that Bradbury had impressed him during their meeting. But when McCain called him Tuesday to personally ask for a no vote, Manchin said, he changed course "because of John’s service to our country, my respect and Continue reading “Senate confirms Bradbury after fight over ‘torture memos’”

Trump’s air traffic overhaul faces bumpy skies

A House Republican plan to place the nation’s air traffic control system in private hands is closer than ever to becoming reality — but not even President Donald Trump’s outspoken support has cleared away all the obstacles.

A month after Trump offered his public support in a White House speech, the proposal to split up the Federal Aviation Administration still faces opposition from rural interests, small-plane owners and key Republicans in Congress, where the to-do list for returning lawmakers is piled high with big tasks like repealing Obamacare and rewriting the tax code.

One crucial lawmaker says he’s not even sure how strongly Trump supports the proposal, which would represent the most dramatic overhaul of U.S. aviation in a century.

“Well, you know, the president — it’s kind of funny because he hasn’t mentioned that to me, and I’m the one that he would mention it to, and I’ve Continue reading “Trump’s air traffic overhaul faces bumpy skies”

Trump’s infrastructure pitch adds to legislative pileup

Health care and tax reform legislation are on ice, Congress faces a time crunch to prepare a budget and avoid a debt crisis this summer, and the White House is under pressure from the Russia investigations. But President Donald Trump is trying to turn D.C.’s focus this week to two other mammoth pitches — privatizing air traffic control and promoting his $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

The problems: Capitol Hill aides say a broad infrastructure bill isn’t going anywhere any time soon either. And the proposed air-safety overhaul failed to even make it to the House floor when GOP lawmakers proposed it a year ago.

Continuing to toss ambitious proposals into an already-stuffed legislative calendar poses a danger for Trump: If he and Congress can’t regroup to focus on one priority at a time, they could end up seeing the president’s three biggest policy objectives — tax reform, health Continue reading “Trump’s infrastructure pitch adds to legislative pileup”

Trump pivots to infrastructure as he enters bruising week

The White House next week plans a full-throated infrastructure push, including unveiling more details on its vision for overhauling both the nation’s air traffic control system and federal permitting requirements for road projects.

The administration will spend several days rolling out at least some more details about priorities for its $1 trillion infrastructure plan and talking up the need for additional investment, during a week that’s otherwise expected to be full of loud and potentially damaging news about the FBI and Russia.

So far the administration has offered few details on its infrastructure proposals, aside from a six-page fact sheet it slipped into its 2018 budget proposal last month.

President Donald Trump will kick off the week Monday in the Oval Office by rolling out legislative principles encouraging Congress to split air traffic control away from the Federal Aviation Administration and place it under a private, non-governmental entity – a Continue reading “Trump pivots to infrastructure as he enters bruising week”

Trump slips infrastructure plan into budget

The Trump administration finally laid out its long-promised vision for a $1 trillion national infrastructure plan Tuesday — with nary a peep of fanfare and the president not even in the country to talk it up.

It arrived as a six-page fact sheet packaged with President Donald Trump’s $4.1 trillion proposed 2018 budget. As expected, it laid out a vision for $200 billion in direct federal spending over the next decade on needs such as roads, bridges, tunnels, railroads and expanded broadband, along with incentives for states, cities and private investors and efforts to reduce the burdens of regulations.

“The administration’s goal is to seek long-term reform on how infrastructure projects are regulated, funded, delivered and maintained,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told reporters Tuesday. She said the administration expects “to have more details forthcoming,” including a legislative package later this year, but described the concepts handed out Tuesday as Continue reading “Trump slips infrastructure plan into budget”

Congress to airlines: Police yourselves before we have to

Lawmakers in both parties lined up Tuesday to rail against airlines’ mistreatment of customers, from their raft of confusing fees to last month’s violent removal of a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight.

But Republicans made it clear that Congress isn’t eager to force changes on the industry, a powerful lobbying force that has racked up a series of wins in Washington in recent years. The industry is also pushing hard for lawmakers and the Trump administration to give them a major prize — an overhaul of the nation’s air traffic control system that would give them more control over how it operates.

Rather than push for new regulations, at least for now, House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said he expects the industry to clean up its act so Congress doesn’t have to step in.

“Seize this opportunity,” he admonished United CEO Oscar Munoz and executives from Continue reading “Congress to airlines: Police yourselves before we have to”

United’s Munoz starts his airline’s congressional apology tour

United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz apologized again Tuesday for the way his airline treated a passenger left bloodied and dazed after law enforcement dragged him off a flight last month for refusing to give up his seat.

“I am personally sorry that my immediate response, and the response of our airline, was inadequate in that moment,” he said before the House Transportation Committee’s hearing on airline customer service. “No customer or individual should ever be treated the way Mr. Dao was — ever.”

Munoz also apologized again to David Dao, the passenger forcibly bumped from the United flight, his family and the customers who witnessed the incident.

His apology came after members on the committee warned that they are listening to constituents’ concerns about airline mistreatment, which adds a layer of unpleasantness on top of an already stressful task.

Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), who has been romantically Continue reading “United’s Munoz starts his airline’s congressional apology tour”