Jan 11, 2017

Chao's key testimony

Zach Gibson / AP

As the only nominee who has served at the cabinet-level and in the private sector (and the wife of the Senate majority leader), Elaine Chao's confirmation hearing for transportation secretary was breezy as expected. Here's what you need to know.

Chao called Trump's infrastructure plan "ambitious" and said the government alone couldn't fund it.

As mentioned, the government does not have the resources to address all the infrastructure needs within our country. So all of us need to put our best thinking forward as to how to fund the aging infrastructure.

Tech alert: Although Chao said there are some concerns with the development of autonomous vehicles and drones, she said DOT should "not dampen the basic creativity and innovation of our country."

Chao sidestepped questions about implementing positive train control, saying she "hoped to get briefed" on it, and FAA privatization, by joking that she wanted to get confirmed before detailing her position.

Smooth sailing. Roger Wicker's take: "Most members of this committee are delighted that you have been chosen for this position. I think you'll be confirmed with a nice bipartisan vote."

Go deeper

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.