Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 23, 2014

July 23, 2014

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

452551652 web 445x296 Kerry Arrives at Tel Avivs Ben Gurion Airport Despite FAA Ban on U.S. Flights

Passengers check a departure board displaying various cancellations at Ben Gurion on Wednesday. (Gil Cohen Magen/AFP/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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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.

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July 18, 2014

Former NTSB Chairwoman Explains Challenges in Investigation of Ukraine Shootdown

On CNBC Friday, Deborah Hersman, the former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, explained some of the difficulties facing investigators as they try to figure out exactly how the Malaysia Airlines flight was downed over Ukraine.

“This a very wide debris field, potentially nine miles long,” she said. “And they’ve got to be able to track every single piece of that aircraft so they can put it together, because the important pats are going to be the ones that tell them what happened.”

Full story

Sen. Kirk Urges FAA to Help Airliners Defend Themselves Against Missiles

On his Five By Five blog, CQ Roll Call’s Tim Starks has the news on Sen. Mark S. Kirk, R- Ill., calling for the Federal Aviation Administration to help commercial airliners install defense systems against missile defense attacks of the type that shot down a Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine on Thursday. Tim explains the background on past civilian aircraft defense efforts.

‘Pension Smoothing,’ the Highway Trust Fund’s Temporary Friend

The 10-month Highway Trust Fund bill that the House passed last week is hardly the first piece of legislation that features a mishmash of pay-for provisions intended to keep it from increasing the deficit. This time around, one of the primary revenue-raisers ($6.4 billion worth) is a “pension smoothing” provision.

Never heard of that accounting maneuver? CQ Roll Call’s Emma Dumain and David Harrison explain it this way: Full story

Obama Demands ‘Credible’ Investigation of Plane Shootdown

President Obama on Friday called for a ceasefire in eastern Ukraine to allow “a credible international investigation” of the shooting down Thursday of a Malaysian airliner with 298 people on board.

Calling the event “an outrage of unspeakable proportions,” Obama said at the White House that he’d dispatched investigators from the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board to Ukraine to assist in the inquiry.

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 1:22 p.m.
Aviation

Energy Xtra, CQ Roll Call’s Latest Policy Blog

You might’ve seen us refer already to Energy Xtra, the newest Policy Pulse blog for CQ Roll Call. If you haven’t clicked through, we urge you to check it out. Written by Randy Leonard, a longtime reporter on energy and environment issues, the blog will track several issues of direct interest to readers of The Container, including the fossil fuel supply, energy infrastructure and gas taxes. Full story

FAA Bans Flights In Eastern Ukraine Airspace; NTSB Sends Investigators

The Federal Aviation Administration has banned U.S. flight operations over eastern Ukraine after a Malaysia Airlines plane with 298 people on board was shot down in that airspace on Thursday.

Meanwhile on its Twitter account Friday morning, the National Transportation Safety Board said it would “send 1+ investigator to Ukraine. Details TBD. Response will be guided by events as they unfold.”

Full story

By Tom Curry Posted at 11:26 a.m.
Aviation

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