Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 22, 2014

Posts by Tom Curry

87 Posts

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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.

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

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.”

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

For ‘P3s,’ Still Some Confusion About What’s Public And What’s Private

President Barack Obama tried to focus attention this week on public-private partnerships to build infrastructure. Despite the existence of well-established “P3″ projects — concentrated in Texas, Florida, Virginia, California, and Colorado — the public is still sometimes confused about what’s public and what’s private.

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Cuomo Brokers Deal Averting New York Suburban Commuter Rail Strike

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has averted a potentially crippling Long Island Rail Road commuter rail strike in New York City’s suburbs.

In a news conference with labor union leaders and Tom Prendergast, head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Cuomo announced the accord which still must be ratified by the unions. The agreement headed off a strike that would have begun as early as Sunday.

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July 17, 2014

For Infrastructure Funding, Tolls Remain a Steep Challenge in Some Places

Federal law prohibits most interstate highway tolling. Lifting that ban is not likely to happen soon, even though toll revenue would help states pay for some infrastructure projects.

States are turning to public-private partnerships, or P3s, to finance projects. But with P3s in some parts of the country, there’s a potential obstacle: public dislike of tolls.

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As Investors, Officials Meet, a Warning Note on Public-Private Deals

Even as President Barack Obama was headed to Delaware on Thursday to promote public-private partnerships to finance infrastructure, Peter Ruane, president of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, was telling a conference of officials and investors who put together such deals that there’s growing resistance in Congress to the “P3s” trend.

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Obama Pushes Public-Private Partnerships as One Infrastructure Funding Solution

In Delaware on Thursday, President Barack Obama will announce a new “one-stop shop” for state and local governments who need guidance on how to partner with private-sector investors raise money for infrastructure projects.

Obama will unveil the Build America Transportation Investment Center, to be housed at the Department of Transportation.

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July 16, 2014

Small-Town Grants: Jimmy Stewart Airport and More

The airport in the western Pennsylvania county where film star Jimmy Stewart was born and raised — the Indiana County/Jimmy Stewart Airport — is getting $354,666 to remove obstructions and complete a runway extension. It was one of 35 small airports getting $18 million in grants announced by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday.

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By Tom Curry Posted at 2:59 p.m.
Airports, Aviation

Republicans Blame Obama for Blocking Multi-Year Transportation Bill in 2009 (Video)

House Republicans reached back to recent history yesterday to rebut Democratic critics who blame them for not working on a multi-year transportation authorization bill.

Why, they demanded, did President Barack Obama not push for a multi-year transportation bill at height of his power in 2009 when his party controlled both branches of Congress?

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