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September 4, 2017 11:30 PM, EDT
Capitol Agenda for the Week of Sept. 4: TIGER in the House
Flooded I-65 Flooded I-65 in Houston by David J. Phillip/AP

The week ahead for trucking on Capitol Hill

Images of interstates and neighborhoods underwater in Houston reminded us of our infrastructure’s fragility. Hurricane Harvey was a powerful, destructive force. Yet, it is undeniable that modern, weather-resilient infrastructure would have protected at least some parts of South Texas. After hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, experts agreed resilient infrastructure would have protected aspects of New Orleans and New York City.

So, now that three major cities have endured massive destruction, policymakers have an opportunity to re-evaluate their approach to infrastructure funding. Emphasis should be paid to programs that would rebuild roads, inland waterways, levees and dams with Mother Nature in mind. Yesterday’s infrastructure is not cutting it.

The Obama administration recognized the need for additional infrastructure dollars and established the TIGER grants, a program popular with governors and mayors to help fund large-scale, regional transportation projects. The Trump administration rejects the grants, calling instead for twinning federal aid with private capital. Republican leaders in the House agreed with the administration to deny appropriations for the TIGER program in fiscal 2018. Their Senate counterparts disagreed and are proposing $550 million.

Two House Democrats, Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut and Peter Welch of Vermont, are proposing to include $500 million for TIGER in a fiscal 2018 funding bill. Infrastructure funding unrelated to emergency aid for Houston has dropped from Congress’ priority list this year. When he spoke about tax reform, President Donald Trump said an overhaul would be a “once-in-a-generation” opportunity. The same could be said about a real effort to modernize the country’s transportation grid.

THE WEEK AHEAD (all times EDT):

Sept. 6, 9 a.m.: The U.S. EPA holds a meeting to reconsider the final determination of the midterm evaluation of greenhouse gas emission standards for model years 2022-25 light-duty vehicles.

Sept. 7, 8:40 a.m.: House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) sits down with The New York Times at the Newseum.

Sept. 8, 1 p.m.: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration meets with stakeholders to hear concerns regarding its Compliance, Safety, Accountability performance scoring program for motor carriers. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

HURRICANE HARVEY: The Federal Highway Administration provided $25 million in emergency relief funds available to Texas in order to repair some of the damage wrought by the powerful hurricane.

ELDs: Commercial vehicle inspectors will issue citations to motor carriers operating vehicles without electronic logging devices beginning Dec. 18 but will not place vehicles out of service until April 1.

CUMMINS: The company unveiled its all-electric powertrain demonstration truck.

BUZZ:

The Senate Commerce Committee plans to host a hearing on autonomous vehicles Sept. 13, sources say.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Our buddy Bill Lucia, in routefifty.com, details the Aug. 30 meeting on infrastructure at the White House.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

We’re going to need more time to do it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), speaking to reporters in Portland, Ore., in August about efforts to pass a yearlong fiscal 2018 funding bill.

FAVORITE VIDEO:

The Nation’s John Nichols explains climate resilience on DemocracyNow!

FAVORITE TWEET:

CNN offers a visual reminder of the gravity of the situation in Houston.

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