Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 20, 2014

September 19, 2014

A Look Back: Foreign Air Carrier Competition, Drones & Defective Cars

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We heard from both Reps. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., (left) and Sam Graves, R-Mo., this week on aviation policy. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

This week on The Container, we spent lot of time reporting on aviation but with some focus on highways and the vehicles that travel on them.

We told you that U.S. airlines, while making good profits recently, still haven’t gotten back to pre-recession passenger levels.

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The Container’s Friday Q & A: Rep. Sam Graves

ford011 031913 330x215 The Container’s Friday Q & A: Rep. Sam Graves

Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., left, with actor and pilot Harrison Ford at a forum of the House General Aviation Caucus. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

We spoke with Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., co-chairman of the House General Aviation Caucus and a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week after he told an aviation industry conference in Washington about some of his misgivings about drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

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Analyst Decries ‘A Sense of Entitlement’ in Air Travelers

Hunter Keay Analyst Decries ‘A Sense of Entitlement’ in Air Travelers

Hunter Keay (Photo: Wolfe Research)

The most amusing analysis this week of how the airline business works or ought to work came from Wolfe Research investment analyst Hunter Keay who explained that travelers must be re-educated out of expecting something for nothing.

“Airlines have really struggled with managing down a sense of entitlement from the consumer, which is still a problem and that’s really going to take decades to go away,” Keay told an aviation conference in Washington.

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Mark Sanford Spars With TSA Official Over Those Lists

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Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., spoke for those Americans Thursday who are exasperated with all those lists that the Transportation Security Administration and other federal agencies keep to check up on airline passengers.

Sanford tussled with TSA Assistant Administrator Stephen Sadler at a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Transportation Security Subcommittee.

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September 18, 2014

Nelson Sees Potential Risk From Defective Chinese Cars

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Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.

Just as some members of Congress are concerned about competition from state-supported Persian Gulf airlines and from Chinese airplane manufacturers, there may be a new potential threat in ground transportation, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said this week.

Nelson (Twitter: @SenBillNelson ) cited BYD, a Chinese automaker, at the hearing of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Insurance, displaying a photo of one of BYD’s vehicles.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 3:08 p.m.
Autos, Uncategorized

Allies Home to Fast-Growing Rivals for U.S. Air Carriers

AmericanAvEmir2 Allies Home to Fast Growing Rivals for U.S. Air CarriersSome United States allies in its struggle against the Islamic State are home to fast-growing airlines such as Etihad and Emirates competing with U.S. carriers. And that worries U.S. airlines.

A 1999 Open Skies agreement between the United States and the United Arab Emirates gives Etihad and Emirates access to U.S. airports.

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House Unanimously Votes To Cut TSA Security Fees

Richard Hudson 3 020812 222x335 House Unanimously Votes To Cut TSA Security Fees

Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., sponsored the fee rollback legislation (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call)

Travel industry leaders are applauding a unanimous House vote Wednesday to roll back Transportation Security Administration fees.

The 2013 budget accord had increased the security-related fees to $5.60 per one-way trip. Previously, the fee had been $2.50 per enplanement (boarding a flight) with a cap of $10.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 10:12 a.m.
Aviation, Budget, Travel

September 17, 2014

Earmark Nostalgia Still Strong Among Some Members

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Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Mass.

Nostalgia for earmarks — voiced in May by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and in July by Reps. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., and Tom Cole, R-Okla. — was heard again Wednesday at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee press conference.

Regretting the ban, which House Republican leaders imposed on appropriations earmarks in 2011, Rep. John J. Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., said, “That was one of the biggest mistakes that we ever made. We didn’t save any money; we just put more power in the bureaucracy.”

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Bipartisan House Report Sees Growing Role for Private Money in Infrastructure Deals

1duncan022702 258x335 Bipartisan House Report Sees Growing Role for Private Money in Infrastructure Deals

Rep. John J. Duncan, Jr., headed a special House panel on public-private partnerships.

There was bipartisan House agreement Wednesday that public-private investment partnerships, which combine state and federal grant money and bonds with Wall Street equity and debt financing, should be an important part of paying for new transportation infrastructure.

But there was partisan disagreement among members of a special P3 panel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on how large a percentage of infrastructure funding will come from the P3.

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September 16, 2014

Highway Safety Agency Under Bipartisan Fire for GM Defects Response

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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., in a 2010 photo (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found few allies on Capitol Hill Tuesday.

A House committee, a Senate committee, and the Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s office all agreed that the agency does not have the staff it needs to be an effective watchdog over car defects.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 4:01 p.m.
Autos, Uncategorized

Labor And Capital In Accord on Threats to U.S. Airlines

452532224 445x280 Labor And Capital In Accord on Threats to U.S. Airlines

Delta Airlines planes at Kennedy airport in New York City (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

Labor and capital were in agreement Tuesday that while it’s good that U.S. airlines are now profitable, foreign competitors are a growing threat, and Congress needs to lift the burden of taxes and fees on the industry.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 12:48 p.m.
Aviation, Uncategorized

New NTSB Data Show General Aviation Has Become Less Risky Over Past 20 Years

UltimateGAdata 445x282 New NTSB Data Show General Aviation Has Become Less Risky Over Past 20 Years

General aviation is far more dangerous than regularly scheduled commercial aviation. But data released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board show that general aviation has gotten safer over the past 20 years.

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September 15, 2014

U.S. Airlines Still Not Quite Recovered To Their Pre-Recession Passenger Levels

emplanechart 445x322 U.S. Airlines Still Not Quite Recovered To Their Pre Recession Passenger Levels

Even with a recovering U.S. economy, domestic air travel has still not quite gotten back to its pre-recession levels.

The Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (Twitter: @TransportStatsreported Monday that U.S. airlines carried 59.2 million passengers on domestic flights. That compares to nearly 61.5 million domestic passengers in June of 2007. Full story

A Cautionary Tale About The Difficulty of Bringing Anti-Texting Technology To Market

In case you missed it, the New York Times on Sunday had a detailed account by Matt Richtel (Twitter: @mrichtel) of an entrepreneur and engineer named Scott Tibbitts who has spent five years devising a technology called Groove to prevent texting while driving — and thus save the lives of pedestrians and others killed by texting drivers.

Tibbitts and his company, Katasi, worked with Sprint and with American Family Insurance to make his technology available.

The story is a cautionary tale about the difficulty of bringing new technology to market. One impediment that has kept Katasi’s potentially life-saving device off the market: the companies’ potential legal liability if the technology weren’t 100 percent effective in blocking every single text.

Traffic Safety Administration, FedEx Earnings & Privacy During Airport Screening On Week’s Agenda

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Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., will chair a hearing Tuesday examining the performance of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A busy week for transportation policy in Washington starts Tuesday with a hearing by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, headed by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., (Twitter: @clairecmc) on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has been accused of slow reaction to the GM recalls of 27.5 million cars this summer.

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