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July 17, 2017 12:30 PM, EDT
Capitol Agenda for the Week of July 17: CSA Under the Microscope
Daphne Jefferson testifying House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

The week ahead for trucking on Capitol Hill

We’ve reached the halfway point in the congressional calendar, and the House is finally holding its first hearing on trucking matters. Headlining this highly anticipated hearing will be the elusive acting administrator at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Daphne Jefferson. She is scheduled to testify July 18 before the House committee on transportation. Much like her predecessor, Scott Darling, Jefferson avoids the spotlight, rarely conducting interviews.

The House hearing will focus on the controversial methodology of the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability performance scoring program which evaluates carriers. A recent blockbuster study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine proposed various reforms, such as proceeding with an “item response theory” approach. Under 2015’s FAST Act highway law, FMCSA needs to develop a corrective plan for the CSA program based on the report’s recommendations. The agency’s plan will have to go before Congress and be reviewed by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General. Expect administrator Jefferson to update policymakers on the timing of the CSA action plan. Groups such as American Trucking Associations, as well as the Truckload Carriers Association, acknowledged the study could lead to vast improvements. The CSA has been criticized by many trucking executives who have argued it has depicted the industry unfairly. (Jefferson photo via Women in Trucking Association)

THE WEEK AHEAD (all times EDT):

July 18, 9 a.m.: The Senate Finance Committee examines ways to reform the U.S. tax code.

July 18, 10 a.m.: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee reviews safety programs at FMCSA and other agencies. FMCSA chief Daphne Jefferson is scheduled to testify. 

July 18-19, 8:30 a.m.: The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology at DOT holds a meeting of the Intelligent Transportation Systems Program Advisory Committee.

July 19, 10 a.m.: The House Agriculture Committee reviews infrastructure concerns in rural states.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

BILLIONS: The race to field the first autonomous car will be a Darwinian exercise, with more than 50 major competitors reduced to a handful of winners over the next decade, according to a new study by consultant AlixPartners.

E-COMMERCE: Intermodal rail and trucking companies are competing to meet the transportation needs of e-commerce businesses while adapting to how these new supply chains differ from those of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers.

PALMETTO: South Carolina began a six-stage process that will raise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel by 2 cents a gallon each July into 2022. When the process is complete, the state will tax diesel and gas at 28 cents a gallon, an increase of 12 cents. The rate had been 16 cents for 30 years through June 30.

BUZZ:

Sources tell us that supporters of a provision in Congress aimed at allowing the use of longer combination trailers nationwide are not presently gaining sufficient backing from colleagues to advance their issue.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Last year, James Surowiecki, writing for the New Yorker, proposed a simple idea: “The U.S. needs to approach infrastructure the way it does national defense: Come up with a long-term strategy, make sure it gets the money it needs and hold the government accountable for making that strategy work.”

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“The FAST Act expanded eligibility for small and rural projects and for projects to build transit-oriented developments. However, to date, none of these project types have received TIFIA loans.”

— Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee on July 12.

The Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act provides credit for projects of regional and national significance.

FAVORITE VIDEO:

“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” said Aecom CEO Mike Burke, when it comes to federal inaction on infrastructure and other policy matters.

FAVORITE TWEET:

Eno Center’s Jeff Davis with the good eye:

Thanks for reading Capitol Agenda. We publish Tuesdays when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow @eugenemulero and @transporttopics on Twitter