Science

Former Delta pilot named to lead FAA as Chao seeks Max 8 audit
The agency faces questions about its handling of the Boeing 737 Max plane, involved in two catastrophic crashes

Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is escorted into her chair by R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, before a Senate Environment and Public Works Senate Committee in Dirksen Building titled “The Administration’s Framework for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America” on March 01, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Delta Air Lines executive and pilot Stephen M. Dickson was nominated Tuesday to take over as administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, an agency facing questions about its handling of the Boeing 737 Max plane involved in two catastrophic overseas crashes.

Also on Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said she had asked the department’s inspector general to conduct a formal audit of the certification process for the 737 Max 8.

Graves sees a positive role for GOP in new select climate committee
Louisiana Republican is optimistic some bipartisan ideas can come out of the panel

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., right, here in May 2018 with Reps. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, and Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., is the ranking member on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Garret Graves says he wasn’t keen on joining the select committee to address climate change formed by the new Democratic House majority in January.

But on Feb. 28, weeks after the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis had been formed and long after the Democrats had announced their roster, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appointed the Louisiana Republican as co-chairman.

Small-dollar donors could hold the balance in 2020
Concerns about money in politics are empowering individual voters

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who entered the 2020 presidential race Thursday, collected almost half of his $79 million Senate haul last cycle from small donations. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Poll after poll shows that a wide majority of Americans denounce the role of money in the nation’s political campaigns — so their behavior in response might come as a surprise: More Americans are donating to candidates, particularly in small-dollar increments.

Molly McCloskey, a 27-year-old who works in advertising in Chicago, said she ponied up several donations, none larger than $40 and most closer to $15, in last year’s campaigns to support Democratic candidates. “There were times where I felt helpless, so I donated,” McCloskey said. “It felt like some sort of action, like I was doing something.”

Creation of a panel disputing climate change causes White House infighting
The Trump administration is considering establishing a cohort of scientists led by climate denier William Happer

Donald Trump's Environment advisor Myron Ebell arrives for a meeting at Downing Street on January 31, 2017, in London, England. Ebell has referred to the Environmental movement as the "greatest threat to freedom". (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Plans to create a White House panel to dispute established climate science are facing sharp opposition from within the building, according to an official familiar with the matter and an administration adviser.

The Trump administration is considering establishing a cohort of scientists at the National Security Council, led by Princeton physicist and climate change denier William Happer, to challenge established scientific conclusions of the severity of climate change and humanity’s contributions to it.

Trump’s latest self-inflicted wound: Medicare cuts
Attacking Medicare is about as popular as a national program to confiscate kittens

The president is devoted to his MAGA-hatted true believers, but his phantom budget may have cost him more than a few supporters in Rust Belt states, Shapiro writes. Above, people wave their caps at a Trump rally in Michigan in 2018. (Scott Olson/Getty Images file photo)

OPINION — Donald Trump’s political problems are almost all rooted in his personality.

The nonstop lying and boasting that have led to a credibility canyon seemingly flow from the president’s fragile ego. His vicious temperament when crossed produces the torrent of below-the-belt Twitter attacks. His apparent inability to trust anyone beyond his immediate family has produced outrages like Jared Kushner’s dubious security clearance. And Trump’s own tough-guy fantasies are probably connected to his hero worship of Vladimir Putin and his avuncular affection for the murderous Kim Jong Un.

Spectrum auction could boot weather forecasting back to the 1970s, lawmakers warn
Appropriators call for delay of auction set for Thursday

The Federal Communications Commission, led by Ajit Pai, plans to go ahead with a spectrum auction aimed at securing American leadership in 5G. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senior House members, citing a potential threat to the safety of millions of people, urgently asked a federal agency Wednesday to delay an auction of radio frequency spectrum that is slated to occur Thursday.

If that spectrum is used for 5G wireless communications, as planned, it could interfere with government satellites’ ability to collect data in a nearby band — information on which accurate weather forecasts hinge, three House Appropriations subcommittee chairmen said in a letter obtained by Roll Call.

Boeing faces increasing political pressure to ground 737 Max 8
Elizabeth Warren weighs in through her presidential campaign, for one

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., issued a statement from her presidential campaign that Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes should be grounded, adding to a growing chorus of concern about the airplanes. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Amid concerns over the safety of new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, the debate is spilling into presidential politics.

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren was among those calling for the United States to join other countries in grounding the planes on Tuesday after two crashes abroad.

Data privacy bill faces long odds as states, EU move ahead
Most tech companies agree laws on how to collect and use consumer data are essential, but the specifics are still being debated

Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., right, and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., are seen in the basement of the Capitol before the Senate policy luncheons on Sept. 25, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Lawmakers want to pass a federal data privacy bill before 2020 to put Washington on par with Europe and ahead of several U.S. states. But those efforts could be delayed because of differences between technology companies and Congress over how powerful the law should be and how it should be structured.

A delay in enacting a uniform federal law could leave technology giants and startup app makers trying to meet a latticework of standards set by multiple regulations passed by many states as well as a growing international set of rules being modeled after the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Companies also could be liable for fines and face consumer lawsuits allowed by state laws.

Former Rep. Ralph Hall, among the last WWII vets to serve in Congress, dies at 95
Hall, a Democrat-turned-Republican from Texas, served 17 terms

Former Rep. Ralph M. Hall of Texas died on Thursday. (Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Ralph M. Hall, who left Congress in 2015 as the oldest member at age 91 after losing a primary runoff after decades in office, died Thursday. Hall was 95.

A Democrat-turned-Republican, Hall was born on May 3, 1923, in Fate, Texas. He attended Texas Christian University and the University of Texas, eventually earning a law degree at Southern Methodist University.

With both parties awash with cash, maybe campaign reform isn’t so quixotic
Republicans may need to rethink their knee-jerk opposition to HR 1

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt at a news conference Wednesday to oppose the House Democrats’ government overhaul package. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

OPINION — After months of polls, focus groups and strategy sessions, Michael Bloomberg came to the obvious conclusion — unlimited money cannot buy a presidential nomination in 2020.

Yes, the news stories talked about competition from Joe Biden and the difficulty that a moderate would have in surviving the Democratic primaries. But Bloomberg implicitly conceded that even a billionaire’s bankroll would not be enough to dominate simultaneous March 3, 2020, primaries in California and Texas.