Sequester could shut down Waterloo, Dubuque, Sioux City air traffic control (corrected)

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warned yesterday that air traffic control across the country may be severely disrupted if the “sequester” goes into effect. Budget cuts may prompt the Federal Aviation Administration to shut down air traffic control towers at three Iowa airports as early as April.

CORRECTION: Closing the air traffic control towers would not necessarily shut down all traffic at the affected airports. On the other hand, “many corporations won’t fly into airports that don’t have an active tower.”

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New thread on Obama appointments

Time for another thread on President Barack Obama’s latest appointments and cabinet vacancies. The U.S. Senate confirmed John Kerry as secretary of State today by 94 votes to 3, with Kerry himself voting “present.” Iowans Tom Harkin and Chuck Grassley both voted for the confirmation. Senate Republicans are salivating over the chance to bring Scott Brown back to Washington. Early polling in Massachusetts shows Brown leading likely Democratic nominee Ed Markey for a special election to replace Kerry.

I was sad to read that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will leave the administration after all. He has been one of the best in Obama’s cabinet. Ken Thomas of the Associated Press mentioned several possible replacements for LaHood: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Debbie Hersman, and former House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Jim Oberstar. If we could re-do 2009, I’d wish for the House to pass a comprehensive transportation bill instead of working on the climate change bill that died in the Senate.

Last Friday, Obama announced that Denis McDonough will be his new chief of staff. After the jump I’ve posted a few other White House staff changes.

No word yet on who will replace Hilda Solis as Labor secretary, Lisa Jackson as EPA administrator, or Ken Salazar at Interior.

Any relevant comments are welcome in this thread.  

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Boswell joins House Republicans to approve oil drilling bill

The U.S. House approved a bill last night that would encourage more offshore oil drilling and force the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Although Leonard Boswell (IA-03) has talked about getting tough on oil companies for the past year, he was one of 21 House Democrats who joined most Republicans in supporting the “drill here, drill now” crowd’s wish list.  

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Year in review: national politics in 2009 (part 1)

It took me a week longer than I anticipated, but I finally finished compiling links to Bleeding Heartland’s coverage from last year. This post and part 2, coming later today, include stories on national politics, mostly relating to Congress and Barack Obama’s administration. Diaries reviewing Iowa politics in 2009 will come soon.

One thing struck me while compiling this post: on all of the House bills I covered here during 2009, Democrats Leonard Boswell, Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack voted the same way. That was a big change from 2007 and 2008, when Blue Dog Boswell voted with Republicans and against the majority of the Democratic caucus on many key bills.

No federal policy issue inspired more posts last year than health care reform. Rereading my earlier, guardedly hopeful pieces was depressing in light of the mess the health care reform bill has become. I was never optimistic about getting a strong public health insurance option through Congress, but I thought we had a chance to pass a very good bill. If I had anticipated the magnitude of the Democratic sellout on so many aspects of reform in addition to the public option, I wouldn’t have spent so many hours writing about this issue. I can’t say I wasn’t warned (and warned), though.

Links to stories from January through June 2009 are after the jump. Any thoughts about last year’s political events are welcome in this thread.

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