Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 24, 2014

July 24, 2014

Assaults on Public Transit Bus Drivers Prompt DOT Summit

This week, with the FAA’s ban on flights to Tel Aviv and with another plane crash Thursday, this one over Mali, it’s been hard to avoid thinking about transportation risks.

Ground-based transport can be hazardous too, as a driver on a Washington D.C. Metro bus learned this week when a passenger slashed him across the face in a dispute over paying a fare.

Full story

Cruise Ship Passengers Recount ‘Horrific’ Incidents (Video)

Passengers gave harrowing testimony about illness and crime aboard cruise ships at a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Security guards “did everything wrong” and “waited at least 10 minutes to even call for someone to come down and look at my mother’s body to see if she was breathing or not,” said Amanda Butler, whose mother collapsed while on a Carnival cruise while the ship was docked at Grand Cayman Island.

The woman, Violet Butler, later died.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 10:06 a.m.
Shipping

FAA Lifts Ban on U.S. Flights to Israel’s Main Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration late Wednesday night cancelled its restrictions on U.S. airline flights into and out of Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport.

The agency said it had consulted with other federal agencies “to assess the security situation in Israel and carefully reviewed both significant new information and measures the Government of Israel is taking to mitigate potential risks to civil aviation.”

Full story

July 23, 2014

Much-Anticipated Rail Shipping Rule for Oil Is Unveiled

Ending months of waiting by industry groups and local officials, the Department of Transportation on Wednesday issued its proposed rulemaking on rail shipments of flammable materials, including crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken shale.

Among other steps, the department would phase out within two years older tank cars for the shipment of certain types of flammable liquids, including most Bakken crude oil, unless the tank cars were retrofitted to comply with new design standards.

Full story

Ted Cruz Sees Obama ‘Economic Boycott’ of Israel as FAA Extends Tel Aviv Flight Ban

judiciary007 052114 445x291 Ted Cruz Sees Obama ‘Economic Boycott’ of Israel as FAA Extends Tel Aviv Flight Ban

Cruz. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday extended its prohibition on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion International Airport for up to an additional 24 hours, following the ban it announced Tuesday.

The FAA announcement drew immediate criticism from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who said in statement, “President Obama has just used a federal regulatory agency to launch an economic boycott on Israel, in order to try to force our ally to comply with his foreign-policy demands.”

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 2:30 p.m.
Airports, Security

Boeing, Delta CEOs Clash Over Future of Ex-Im Bank Subsidies

The corporate clash over congressional reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank was on display Wednesday in separate interviews with CEOs of two of America’s biggest transportation companies, Delta Airlines and Boeing.

Congress faces a decision this summer on whether to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank which provides direct loans, loan guarantees, and credit insurance to foreign companies to subsidize purchases of U.S goods and services.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 1:32 p.m.
Aviation

Kerry Arrives at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport Despite FAA Ban on U.S. Flights (Video)

A flight carrying Secretary of State John Kerry landed Wednesday at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to negotiate a cease-fire agreement to halt fighting between Hamas and Israel in which more than 600 people have been killed.

Kerry made the trip despite a ban imposed Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration on flights by U.S. airlines to Ben Gurion, Israel’s only international airport. The FAA order, which came after a rocket landed within about a mile of  the airport, has caused an awkward political rift between the United States and Israel.

Full story

July 22, 2014

Greg Saxton of the Greenbrier Companies on the Need for Safer Rail Tank Cars

In an opinion piece for Roll Call, Greg Saxton, chief engineer for The Greenbrier Companies, a leading railroad industry supplier, argues that the Transportation Department ought to require more robust tank car designs given the risks of explosions and oil spills as newly abundant domestic crude oil is shipped around the country to refineries and terminals.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 4 p.m.
Environment, Rail

FAA Bans Flights to Main Airport in Israel for Up to 24 Hours After Rocket Strike (Video)

The Federal Aviation Administration Tuesday on is prohibiting U.S. airlines from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours.

The FAA notice came after a rocket strike Tuesday morning which landed about one mile from the airport.

Full story

House to Vote on Tourism Promotion Effort — With Deficit Reduction Bonus

452399014 445x296 House to Vote on Tourism Promotion Effort    With Deficit Reduction Bonus

Tourists look at a map outside the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington on July 19. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

The next time you overhear French tourists visiting your city or town, don’t forget to say “Merci beaucoup”  to them for doing their part in deficit reduction.

On Tuesday the House will vote on a bill that in effect taxes certain visitors to the United States to pay for a marketing effort to encourage other foreigners to come visit. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill will reduce cumulative deficits over 10 years by $231 million, since the revenues would exceed the money to be spent on marketing.

Full story

LUST Trust Fund is Useful Piggy Bank for Congress to Tap for Highway Funding

When you’re in a pinch, it’s comforting to have an extra $1 billion or $3 billion sitting on the shelf. That’s essentially what the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund is when Congress needs money to help refill the Highway Trust Fund.

Full story

July 21, 2014

Foxx Touts Bicycle Commuting and Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

In a wide-ranging appearance Monday at the National Press Club, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said he’d figured out how to bicycle to his office, and he touted vehicle-to-vehicle communications for cars as a technology that will reduce accidents in the future.

But Foxx avoided substantive comment on two of the most pressing current issues: the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine last week, and a pending rule from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration on rail shipment of volatile Bakken crude from North Dakota.

Full story

Pilot-Journalist Assesses Culpability in Malaysia Airlines Disaster; Obama Pushes for Access to Crash Site

President Barack Obama on Monday morning denounced Russian-backed separatists for blocking the investigation of the Malaysia Airlines flight which was shot down last week over eastern Ukraine. He demanded that Russian President Vladimir Putin press the separatists to “stop tampering with the evidence” and to give investigators, including some from the United States, “unimpeded access to the crash site” for flight MH17.

As the geopolitical struggle over the shooting down of the Boeing 777 continues, it’s worth reading the analysis that journalist and pilot James Fallows did Saturday on the question of whether Malaysia Airlines was to blame for routing it over an area where fighting was taking place.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 12:02 p.m.
Aviation

Deepening of Savannah Port Is an Issue in Jack Kingston-David Perdue Race

The Port of Savannah is one point of contention in a Georgia Republican primary runoff Tuesday in which 11-term Rep. Jack Kingston vies with businessman David Perdue for the party’s Senate nomination.

Tuesday’s winner will face Democrat Michelle Nunn in November in a contest that The Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings puts in the “Favored Republican” category.

Full story

Week’s Action Includes Possible Highway Trust Fund Vote in Senate

This could be a decisive week for highway and bridge building if the Senate can pass a bill providing additional money for the Highway Trust Fund.

The House passed its version of the bill last week. It would keep money flowing to state transportation projects through May 2015.

Full story

Sign In

Forgot password?

Or

Subscribe

Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...