January 12, 2023

👋 Hello, Thursday! Smart Brevity™ count: 1,491 words ... 5½ minutes. Edited by Noah Bressner.

🗳️ Situational awareness: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a progressive from Oakland, plans to run in '24 for the seat of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is expected to retire, but hasn't announced that. Lee got a standing ovation yesterday when she told the Congressional Black Caucus. —L.A. Times

😡 1 big thing: New push for air upgrades

A traveler at DCA yesterday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and airlines have been pointing fingers at each other for months about who's to blame for travel headaches dating back to last summer.

  • Responsibility for yesterday's computer snafu — 1,300 U.S. flights were canceled and 10,000+ were delayed — falls squarely on the FAA, Axios transportation correspondent Joann Muller writes.

That's a turnabout for Buttigieg, who oversees the FAA and has been pushing to hold the aviation industry accountable for repeated disruptions — including Southwest's holiday meltdown.

  • Buttigieg rejected the idea of the FAA reimbursing travelers for delays caused by its system failure.

"Today just encapsulates how archaic our aviation infrastructure system is," Brian Kelly, founder of travel website The Points Guy, told Axios.

  • "While the airlines ... need to invest in their technology, so does the government. And as taxpayers, we have to hold the government accountable."
  • The U.S. Travel Association labeled the disruption a "catastrophic" failure, and said federal lawmakers need to modernize air travel infrastructure.

That's what some airline executives — notably United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby — have been saying for months.

  • "The FAA needs more funding for appropriate staffing … [and] we in aviation have to commit to helping them get that," Kirby told business leaders at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce aviation summit this fall.
  • "We need to modernize air traffic control. They're doing it with old technology, and they're doing it without enough staffing. And we have to fix that, or nothing else is going to matter."

🧠 What's happening: Managing the skies is getting harder for a bunch of reasons.

  • More people are flying as normality returns, so airlines are adding flights and packing planes.
  • But airlines have staffing shortages.
  • The FAA, which has a stellar safety record, is stretched to the limit as it tries to manage 45,000 flights per day — including commercial airlines, cargo carriers and private planes.
  • The national airspace is getting more crowded and complex with the addition of hundreds of thousands of drones, plus the occasional rocket launch and, soon, air taxis.
  • With climate change yielding more extreme weather, hazardous conditions are becoming more of a factor in air travel.

🔮 What's next: The FAA's five-year funding and authority are up for renewal by Congress later this year. These issues will be under a microscope.

2. 🍳 Right's new fight: Gas stoves

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Despite official insistence that fears of a ban are unfounded, conservatives suddenly are championing gas stoves in a new culture war, Axios' Matt Phillips and Andrew Freedman write.

  • Why it matters: Mounting scientific evidence points to a link between a higher risk of respiratory problems and gas stoves — the prevalent means of cooking in roughly 47 million American households.

What's happening: The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) — which regulates a range of consumer products for safety and health risks — forcefully denied it's considering a ban on gas stoves.

  • The backlash was sparked by an interview Richard Trumka Jr., one of the agency's four commissioners, gave to Bloomberg this week suggesting one was "on the table."

CPSC chair Alex Hoehn-Saric said: "I am not looking to ban gas stoves and the CPSC has no proceeding to do so."

  • The White House said President Biden doesn't support a federal ban on gas stoves.

That didn't stop congressional Republicans from turning up the heat:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted that "the Biden Administration is once again going to extreme lengths to appease Green New Deal fanatics."
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) made the backlash bipartisan, saying a ban would be a "recipe for disaster."

State of play: State and local governments have battled over proposals to ban gas appliances in new construction because of health and climate.

Share this story.

3. 🇨🇳 Biden plans new China controls

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

President Biden plans a new escalation in the U.S.-China relationship, with an executive order imposing new controls on China projects by U.S. companies and investors, Axios' Hans Nichols reports.

  • Final language hasn't been approved. But it appears the executive order will focus on quantum computing, artificial intelligence and semiconductors — and not include biotechnology or batteries.

Officials are unlikely to unveil the order before Secretary of State Tony Blinken makes his first visit to China, currently penciled in for February.

🖼️ The big picture: The war in Ukraine, pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions, and China's more aggressive behavior in the Western Pacific have led to a new bipartisan consensus that the U.S. should do more to choke off China's military — and technological — growth.

The Biden administration has taken several steps to check Chinese ambitions in AI and quantum computing, with the aim of slowing the development of China's military capabilities.

  • Last October, Biden imposed expansive restrictions on semiconductor technology and equipment that can be shared with China.

An analyst with the Center for Strategic Studies described the new policy as "strangling with an intent to kill."

4. 🏛️ 1/6 committee chair offers Brazil help

Supporters of Brazil's former president, Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate Sunday outside Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia. Photo: Adriano Machado/Reuters

Some U.S. lawmakers are looking for ways to cooperate with Brazilian officials on an investigation into last weekend's violent protests, sharing lessons from inquiries into the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Reuters reports.

  • 74 progressive lawmakers in the two countries — led by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) — yesterday signed a joint statement denouncing "anti-democratic" forces trying to overturn recent elections in their nations with political violence.

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), chair of the recently dissolved House Jan. 6 committee, is discussing collaboration with Brazilian authorities.

  • Thompson said in a statement: "I am extremely proud of the January 6 Select Committee's work and final report. If [it] serves as a model for similar investigations, I will help out in any way possible."

Secretary of State Tony Blinken said yesterday that Washington hasn't received a specific request from Brazil regarding the violence: "[I]f and when we do, we'll work expeditiously to respond, as we always do."

5. 📜 Second set of Biden docs

President Biden arrives with Dr. Jill Biden at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., yesterday. She had two cancerous lesions removed. Photo: Evan Vucci/AP

President Biden's legal team found documents containing classification markings in a second location, AP and others report.

  • No details were given about the location.

The N.Y. Times reports (subscription): "Biden's aides have scoured various places since November, when his lawyers discovered a handful of classified files, including briefing materials on foreign countries, as they closed a think tank office in Washington."

6. First look: Business = "fed up"

Graphic: U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark, in an annual "State of American Business" address, today will say business "demands better from our government":

"Because when it comes to Washington, the state of American business is fed up. The polarization, the gridlock, the regulatory overreach — and the inability to act smartly and strategically for our future — is making it harder for all of us to do our jobs, fulfill our roles, and move this country forward."

Clark will unveil an "Agenda for American Strength" that includes "bolstering strength" through building, people, energy, global leadership and rule of law.

  • Go deeper: U.S. Chamber's "State of American Business Data Center" ... Register here for today's 11 a.m. ET event.

7. 🇺🇦 Breaking: Uber CEO in Ukraine

Photo: Uber

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was expected to arrive in Kyiv today to visit employees, drivers, and government and relief agency partners.

  • Uber has 25,000 drivers currently working in Ukraine.
  • During the war, the company doubled its service footprint from 9 cities to 18.

Uber tells me it's working on a variety of relief projects in Ukraine:

  • A free, custom platform was provided to the UN World Food Program, which is using it to manage the logistics of moving emergency food supplies around the country.
  • A custom version of the app was donated to the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture, which is using it to transport staff as they rescue Ukrainian works of art from the front lines.
  • Free rides have been donated to and from the border for refugees, and to hospitals for doctors, nurses and patients.

More on the projects.

8. 🎸 Remembering Jeff Beck

Jeff Beck on stage in 1975.
Jeff Beck onstage in 1975. Photo: Andrew Putler/Redferns via Getty Images

Jeff Beck — who rose to fame as a member of The Yardbirds before becoming one of the most influential solo guitarists of all time — died yesterday at 78.

  • He won eight Grammys and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice — for both his solo work and as a member of a band that kicked him out, Variety writes.

Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, another legendary guitarist and member of The Yardbirds, wrote:

"The six stringed Warrior is no longer here for us to admire the spell he could weave around our mortal emotions. ... His technique unique. His imaginations apparently limitless. Jeff I will miss you along with your millions of fans."

📬 Thanks for starting your week with us. Please invite your friends to sign up.