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(Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

Sen. Ted Cruz will hold a Commerce subcommittee hearing next Wednesday examining the U.S. government's oversight of the Boeing 737 MAX, which has suffered two fatal crashes since October, leading to the grounding of the global fleet.

Between the lines: Cruz, who chairs the subcommittee on aviation and space, is seeking information on what various agencies knew about the plane's safety and where oversight processes may have gone wrong. Top officials from the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation will testify. Topics will include similarities between the two crashes, one in Indonesia in October and the other last week in Ethiopia.

The big picture: In holding the hearing, Cruz will complement a House inquiry already underway in that chamber's transportation committee. In addition, Boeing is also facing investigations from the Transportation Department's Inspector General, Justice Department, and other entities that are also investigating how the 737 MAX was certified as safe to fly in 2017, and judged to be safe enough to continue to fly after the October crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8.

  • Cruz plans to investigate what federal agencies learned between the first and second crashes, and how that played into the FAA's decision to delay grounding the plane in the U.S. until virtually every other affected country had done so.
  • Another area of inquiry is how deferential the FAA was to Boeing in allowing the aerospace giant to self-certify much of the aircraft's production.

What we're watching: One item of particular interest is a software system known as MCAS, which was designed to prevent the plane from stalling, but which is suspected of causing both crashes by forcing the aircraft's nose downward.

Go deeper: What we've learned from the Boeing 737 MAX crashes

Go deeper

52 mins ago - Technology

Big Tech bolts politics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Big Tech fed politics. Then it bled politics. Now it wants to be dead to politics. 

Why it matters: The social platforms that profited massively on politics and free speech suddenly want a way out — or at least a way to hide until the heat cools. 

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
57 mins ago - Economy & Business

GameStop as a metaphor

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A half-forgotten and unprofitable videogame retailer is, bizarrely and incredibly, on the lips of the nation. That's because the GameStop story touches on economic and cultural forces that affect everyone, whether they own a single share of stock or not.

Why it matters: In most Wall Street fights, the broader public doesn't have a rooting interest. This one — where a group of small traders won a multi-billion-dollar bet against giant hedge funds by buying stock in GameStop — is different.

"Megacities" on the rise

Data: Macrotrends; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Places with more than 10 million residents — known as megacities — are becoming more common as people from rural areas migrate to urban ones.

Why it matters: The benefits of megacities — which include opportunities for upward mobility and higher wages — can be offset by their negatives, like the fact that they're breeding grounds for COVID-19.

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