Tuesday, April 28, 2015
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Friday, June 20, 2014
The former star of the Fox TV drama House talks the blues, American accents and karaoke.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Monday, April 29, 2013
The sequestration cuts are being felt, and Congress is rolling back some of the bill they passed earlier this year. Nancy Cook, economic and fiscal policy correspondent for National Journal, talks about the latest news from Washington, including the congressional response to sequestration-induced flight delays.
Monday, February 25, 2013
By Charis Conn
In 1957, two years before his death, Frank Lloyd Wright sat down with WNYC to discuss his design philosophy, exhibiting his trademark eloquence and blistering opinions. The year of this interview marks an explosion of commissions for Wright, who by then had been practicing architecture for 70 years.
Monday, January 14, 2013
By Bob Hennelly
This weekend, in several towns hit hard by Sandy in both New York and New Jersey, residents turned out at impromptu "Walk A Mile In Our Shoes" rallies aimed at keeping pressure on Washington to pass the $50.7 billion dollar relief bill.
Friday, January 04, 2013
A new year, a new Congress, and the 113th Congress is the most diverse yet. Despite all the new faces, many early items of legislative business are old ones -- and ones which could come with old battles. Takeaway Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich explains what's in store for the 113th Congress.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Criticisms over the Paul Ryan budget's steep cuts to Medicare have made it a talking point for Democrats in tough Senate and House races across the country. Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich took an in-depth look at the impact of the Paul Ryan budget on local races for a special airing Thursday night on PBS's NewsHour.
Thursday, September 06, 2012
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Now that the Transportation Bill conference committee has finally released a report (ongress has all of two days to pass it before the June 30th deadline on the current (ninth) extension. That’s not much time to fully analyze the entire 599-page Conference Report, but fortunately the committee provided a “brief” 91-page Joint Explanatory Statement.
It appears from first glance that the document is in almost every way a lukewarm compromise bill:
- It covers two years, not six.
- It lacks the most extreme provisions contemplated over the past months: Keystone pipeline approval, relaxing coal ash regulations, cutting mass transit spending from the Highway Trust Fund.
- It includes reforms that enjoyed bipartisan support—program streamlining, accelerated environmental review.
- It maintains current funding, adjusted for inflation, without indexing the gas tax or limiting spending to its revenue.
Spending on biking, walking, and beautification “transportation enhancements” remains, and half of those funds will be sent directly to metropolitan areas. That's a win for supporters. And half will be sent to the states, which are free to spend them on roads instead. That's a win for detractors.
Transportation For America, one of several organizations created around what many expected would be a transformative, next-generation transportation bill in 2009, made note earlier this week that the last major re-authorization had expired more than 1,000-days ago.
In the context of those last several years of gridlock, this conference report, by its mere existence, amounts to something of a breakthrough.
Something of a breakthrough. The conference report makes useful changes but fails to put the nation on the solid footing that transportation advocates of both parties have been yearning for. For example, it doesn’t replace or significantly augment gas-tax funding. Nor does it create or even allow a visionary level of investment--public or private.
It’s better than another punt, but by no means a touchdown, for anyone. We’ll call it a field goal. A victory for minimal competence. Some conference report highlights:
- Consolidates the number of highway programs by two-thirds, making more resources available directly to states and metropolitan areas.
- Allows acceleration of environmental reviews while maintaining environmental protections.
- Introduces performance measures to better focus spending on measurable outcomes such as reducing congestion, improving road and bridge conditions, and freight movement.
Expands the TIFIA program to $1 Billion per year.
- Creates a pilot program for transit-oriented development planning.
- Increases (modestly) spending on public transportation in Appalachian region and on Indian reservations.
Key proposals that were not included:
- NO Keystone oil pipeline approval, nor language to weaken restrictions on coal ash, as proposed by House Republicans.
- NO permission for transit agencies to use federal capital funds for operating expenses during periods of high unemployment, as proposed by Senate Democrats.
- NO funding reductions for states based on mileage leased to private concessionaires, as proposed by Senate Democrats.
Check back with us soon for more news and analysis.
Matt Dellinger is the author of the book Interstate 69: The Unfinished History of the Last Great American Highway. You can follow him on Twitter.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Final numbers on the developing deal are not yet available, and aides stress none of its provisions are final until the whole package is inked. But aides from both parties confirmed key details for Transportation Nation, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) sent out an email indicating that it's basically a done deal.
“I am so glad that House Republicans met Democrats half way, as Senate Republicans did months ago," she wrote. “The bill is funded at current levels."
Politically-charged provisions forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline and rolling back EPA rules on coal ash will not be included in the final deal, according to aides. That could make it more difficult for House GOP leaders to secure votes for a final deal from Republicans, who have voted several times in favor of the measures and in many cases insisted on its inclusion in the highway bill.
In a concession by Democrats, extra money for land and water conservation looks to be left out of the deal. There are likely to be further reductions to transportation "enhancement" requirements forcing states to spend a certain portion of their highway funds on bike paths and other non-road projects.
Boxer's email referenced an agreement on the enhancement requirements. "For the first time, we send half of the funds for bike paths and pedestrian walkways directly to local entities," she wrote, "and we protect those funds while giving states more flexibility on their share."
Republicans appear to have scored a victory on the pace of environmental reviews for projects. While the original Senate bill limited reviews to 15 years, the deal afoot among conferees limits reviews to eight years, aides said. The final deal also appears to include extra money for rural schools and for Gulf Coast states ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Lawmakers and aides are rushing to ink the deal and file it in the House before midnight Wednesday. That would allow the House to pass the agreement Friday and still comply with House Republicans' three-day preview requirement before bills can reach the floor. The transportation deal is likely to get paired up with a separate deal preventing a student loan rate hike.
Senate aides say it is unlikely senators would remain in town Friday to stamp the deal with an official vote. That means senators would have to have broad agreement to approve it by unanimous consent some time after the House acts.
Follow Todd Zwillich on Twitter @toddzwillich
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Congressional leaders told negotiators involved in faltering transportation bill talks to bear down and make an agreement.
That was the message transmitted by lawmakers emerging from a meeting at Speaker John Boehner's Capitol offices on Tuesday afternoon. Chief GOP negotiator Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) said Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told lawmakers to "redouble our efforts" to try and reach an agreement by the end of this week.
Mica suggested negotiations are entering a final, critical stage. Other lawmakers have suggested that a six-month extension of current surface transportation policy will have to be drafted to prevent highway programs from shutting down June 30, when federal authority to spend money from the Highway Trust Fund expires.
"We're going to take it hour by hour," Mica said.
Mica said Boxer had offered new Senate proposals in the talks. But a House GOP leadership aide suggested Democrats have been unwilling to move far off of policy positions contained in the Senate bill, which passed in March with 74 votes.
Follow Todd Zwillich on Twitter @toddzwillich
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate began their formal conference over surface transportation funding Tuesday, in a negotiation that could take up to a month and where tens of billions of dollars are at stake.
Lawmakers from both sides of the Capitol gathered in one of the Hill's largest hearings rooms to begin hashing out an agreement between the chambers. On the table: A two-year Senate bill worth $109 billion backed by a broad bipartisan vote, versus House demands to cut spending, reform federal projects, cut regulations and force approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.
The extension governing highway funding expires June 30. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) the champion of the Senate bill and the conference committee chair, told lawmakers they'll need to reach agreement by early June in order to get an agreement written and passed in time.
It won't be easy. Several tries left House Republicans unable to agree amongst themselves on a multi-year transportation policy. Meanwhile, many House conservatives consider the Senate bill a non-starter, largely because of its funding levels.
Now House Republicans begin the the conference at a distinct disadvantage. House and Senate Democrats are strongly behind the Senate bill, as are many Senate Republicans. The White House has also strongly backed the Senate's bid. SenatorJames Inhofe (R-Okla) leaned on House conservatives to accept the Senate's bill, which he helped craft with Boxer.
"I have every expectation we are going to be able to do that which the majority of Americans want done," he said.
House Republicans hold a few cards and are making some demands of their own. They want the Senate's $109 billion price tag reduced and are pushing hard to force the White House to accept final construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. They have also laid down markers repealing pending EPA coal ash pollution regulations.
"Let's not just spend more money. Let's have some serious reforms," urged Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) the conference committee's vice-chair.
Boxer began the proceedings with a long list of lobbying and interest organizations that support the Senate bill, ranging from AAA and trucking groups to the AFL-CIO and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"If the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce can work together, then surely we can work together," she said, adding that "failure is not an option for us."
But the reality is that in the 112th Congress, failure is, in fact, an option. Leadership aides in the House and Senate predicted that the election-year talks would likely lead to an agreement rejected by House Republican rank-and-file members. That could force Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to pass any final agreement with the help of large numbers of Democrats. Failing that, Congress can do what it's done nine times since 2005 and simply pass another extension of current law to avoid a shutdown.