Capitol Agenda for the Week of March 15: Why an Aviation Bill Matters

The Week Ahead for Trucking on Capitol Hill

This week, we’re looking at an aviation policy bill as a forum for lawmakers to advance non-aviation measures through Congress. The Senate Commerce Committee on March 16 takes up a not-so-long-term Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. Expect to see non-aviation amendments to be offered during the markup.

If you’re keeping score, this will be the Republican leaders’ second shot at moving FAA legislation this year. A few weeks ago, House Democrats mounted enough pushback on GOP’s efforts to move an FAA bill through the lower chamber. At issue in the House was a provision related to meal and rest breaks for truckers, and a proposal that would privatize the country’s air traffic control system. Already, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said she will not back an FAA bill with the trucking provision. Other senators are likely to join her in opposition.

Also this week, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association and the American Public Transportation Association host their annual policy summits in Washington, D.C. This time of year, major transportation groups meet to outline policy initiatives and share concerns over long-term funding for transportation.

THE WEEK AHEAD (all times Eastern)

March 15: International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association holds its second day of its policy summit in Washington, D.C.

March 15: The American Public Transportation Association holds its policy conference on Capitol Hill. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) and Robert Dold (R-Ill.) will address the group.

March 16, 9:30 a.m.: Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx delivers keynote remarks at Conference of Minority Transportation Officials' Celebrating Women Who Move the Nation Annual Award in Washington, D.C.

March 16, 10 a.m.: Senate Commerce Committee marks up a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill.

March 16, 2:30 p.m.: Foxx appears before the Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

THE MARKS: The U.S. Department of Transportation recently announced that about $2 billion in unused earmarks can be put to use to back infrastructure projects nationwide.

NO LOVE: Some people just don’t like the chairman of the transportation panel in the House. The Daily Kos is floating a petition calling for Chairman Bill Shuster to step down from his leadership post. The petition has nearly 25,000 signatures.


STB: The Surface Transportation Board published new rules intended to speed up the consideration and resolution of large rate cases, implementing one of the requirements contained in the STB Reauthorization Act that became law last year.

TIFIA: The Department of Transportation on March 11 announced the availability of $1.4 billion in credit assistance over the next five years for critical infrastructure projects nationwide, using Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding.

APNEA: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and Federal Railroad Administration announced March 8 that they are seeking public input for 90 days on the effects of screening, evaluating, and treating commercial motor vehicle drivers and rail workers for obstructive sleep apnea.

WHAT WE’RE READING: CityLab spoke with former New York City transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan about ways cities may improve the flow of vehicles. Sadik-Khan is out with a book, Streetfight: Handbook for an Urban Revolution.


“I still think that if you’re ever going to find a long-term financial solution for the Highway Trust Fund, it will probably not come in a highway bill with a gas tax increase.” 

— Chris Bertram, staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, at the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association’s policy summit March 14.


A brief congressional explainer, from CQ Roll Call’s David Hawkings.


Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) drops props for Portland’s recognition in DOT’s Smart City Challenge. The city is vying for $50 million to develop street concepts that enable self-driving cars to communicate with the surroundings.

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