Congress

There’s no worse form of torture for travelers like Jeanne Marchadie than having to endure the sound of people yakking on a cellphone in close quarters.

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Budget negotiations are going on in DC. And, wouldn’t you know it, Congress wants to double the TSA security tax from $2.50 to $5. But, that’s not the least of the budget deal — the increased funds will not even go toward airport and flight security, the government will put it into the general fund to balance the budget. That is unfair, deceptive and abuses the flying public.

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The US Highway Trust fund, funding highways and mass transit in the US is quickly going broke, and is expected to run out of money in fiscal 2014. Ned Levi examines road travel, the US Highway Trust Fund, and the problems of financing the fund, and therefore the important projects it funds for the nation’s roads and transit infrastructure.

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The reelection of President Obama and the new group of Democratic Senators coming to Washington is good news for consumers in terms or consumer protections. The current administration, especially in the Department of Transportation, has been the most consumer-friendly in the history of the country. But turnovers in leadership both in DOT and Congress will be changing the legislative and regulatory landscape.

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The airline world has been in a turmoil for months as airlines, corporate jet owners and governments have struggled with the unilateral imposition of an environmental tax by the European Union (EU).

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In the past, a few congressmen like Rep. John Mica (R-FL) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have been thorns in the side of TSA. They have raged against the giant bureaucracy that the agency has become and the invasiveness of TSA searches. Today, other members of Congress from the Senate and House are joining the anti-TSA crowd.

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It’s not your imagination. Congress seems to be paying closer attention to travelers’ welfare. But do we need their attention? Or, will common sense do?

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Ned Levi has surveyed the state of the commercial airline industry in light of a year of serious security and service failures. To combat those problems Ned has suggested New Year’s resolutions for the government and the airlines.

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The House has passed H.R. 2200 – the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Authorization Act. It includes an expansion of the TSA into surface transportation such as highways, buses, trains and subways. But is it an exercise in futility?

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Jerry Costello is the co-sponsor of the FAA Reauthorization Bill of 2009, which contains several important new rules designed to help air travelers. I asked the Illinois congressman, who is also the chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, about passenger rights and the prospects that new rules would be adopted by the Senate and signed into law.

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