Buttigieg, White House Promote IIJA Ahead of Elections

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Reminders by President Joe Biden and his team regarding a legislative record that includes the enactment of the $1 trillion infrastructure law are omnipresent.

In touting its legislative portfolio ahead of the November midterm elections, the White House is explaining potential benefits to states and municipalities stemming from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This bipartisan infrastructure law has been credited with securing billions of dollars for new freight and commuter transportation programs.

“The last time I was here in Portland, I talked about the bipartisan infrastructure law, the investments we’re making to modernize Portland’s airport, fix your roads, your bridges all across this state, and to get better water and get rid of lead pipes and internet and so — a whole range of things,” Biden said Oct. 15 at an event at the East Portland Community Center in Oregon.



Vice President Kamala Harris

"The work that we do is not about a grand gesture  … It’s about it actually impacting the people of America,” Vice President Kamala Harris says. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg News)

Vice President Kamala Harris addressed state transportation officials and other stakeholders at the White House on Oct. 13: “As the president will tell you, we are very clear: The work that we do is not about a grand gesture or a press conference. It’s about it actually impacting the people of America.”

For emphasis, she added, “If the American worker can’t get to where they need to go in an efficient way, that slows down our productivity.”

The White House event served as a forum for unveiling strategies for expediting the completion of big-ticket infrastructure projects. The strategies included directing the Federal Highway Administration to collaborate with state DOTs on innovations in transportation construction.

Additionally, the departments of Commerce and Interior would proceed with accelerating environmental permitting related to high-speed internet projects on tribal lands.

Pete Buttigieg, the country’s top transportation officer, touted the White House’s recent announcement specific to project delivery. Over the weekend, he sought to further elucidate the administration’s infrastructure theme. “We’re doing everything we can to strengthen the foundations of the American economy,” the secretary told ABC News on Oct. 16.

“That’s a big part of what we’re working on on the infrastructure side,” Buttigieg continued, “dealing with some of the bottlenecks we have, dealing with some of the constraints that we have in transportation infrastructure that’s needed to be upgraded for decades, which is why Washington has talked about doing something about it for decades and under this president, it has finally gotten done.”

With the political season in full swing, congressional Republican leaders, meanwhile, continue to criticize the administration’s economic policies.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.)

Barrasso

“High prices are not transitory — they have become entrenched in our economy,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the top Republican on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “Too many Americans are living the nightmare of having to choose between buying gas they can’t afford, buying groceries they can’t afford and paying energy bills they can’t afford. Families are struggling under the Democrats’ radical agenda.” Barrasso’s sentiment is shared by many in his caucus.

As part of the infrastructure law, the administration recently announced nearly $60 billion in new federal funds for surface transportation corridors nationwide. The FHWA funding approved by the IIJA target projects in every state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico will be among the funds’ recipients.

“These historic investments in American infrastructure give states the flexibility they need to determine how to allocate funds in order to replace deficient bridges,” acting FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack observed, adding, “improve safety for all road users, and reduce carbon emissions by improving transportation infrastructure for communities throughout each state.”

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

Oct. 19, 9 a.m.: The Wilson Center and the China Environment Forum host a panel discussion titled, “Race to the Top on Global Green Infrastructure: From BRI to Bluedot and Beyond.”

Oct. 19, 1 p.m.: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration hosts a meeting of the Medical Review Board.

Freight Corridor

Cue the song: “Cleveland Rocks”

Legislative Docket

Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg

To replace aging railcars for safety purposes, the Federal Transit Administration announced the availability of $600 million. Eligible transit and state agencies are asked to apply. The funding was approved by the $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

“Every day, millions of Americans rely on assets like subways, commuter rail and streetcars to get where they need to go — but too often, railcars are decades out of date,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Oct. 12. “Thanks to President [Joe] Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law, we are using new resources to help modernize America’s aging railcars so that riders who depend on them get faster, safer and more reliable service.”

Midterms ’22

This year’s fall midterm election campaigns coincide with the events season for key transportation stakeholders. Notably, American Trucking Associations will host its annual Management Conference & Exhibition Oct. 22-25 in San Diego. The event is a networking forum for the group’s leadership to provide updates for its membership about industry affairs, such as its workforce’s contributions to the national economy. ATA President Chris Spear is scheduled to deliver a state-of-the-industry address.

Among keynote speakers this year is Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The secretary is scheduled to address the ATA board of directors at the San Diego Convention Center on Oct. 25.

2022 NTDC grand champion Roland Bolduc

FedEx driver Roland Bolduc reacts after being named the 2022 National Truck Driving Championships grand champion. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Also addressing attendees at the conference will be Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Chief Robin Hutcheson. The industry also will recognize FedEx Express’ Roland Bolduc, this year’s National Truck Driving Championships grand champion. Bolduc garnered the award in August during a tournament in Indianapolis.

Favorite Video

As the kids say, putting them on blast.

Favorite Tweet

Smile: It’s selfie time!

The Last Word

Democrats’ runaway inflation continues to crush working families with no relief in sight.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Oct. 13

Mitch McConnell

We publish Mondays when Congress is in session. We also are publishing weekly during the 2022 midterm elections. See previous installments of Capitol Agenda here. Email emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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