The week ahead for trucking on Capitol Hill.
The Trump administration is unveiling its fiscal 2018 budget request, the sequel to its so-called “skinny” budget, right before we all hit the road for Memorial Day and get stuck in that bumper-to-bumper traffic on deteriorated roadways and structurally deficient bridges.
The Office of Management and Budget will unveil the request May 23, and over the next two days, agency Director Mick Mulvaney will appear before the House and Senate to defend any proposed cuts to transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Energy Department and social safety net programs. Responding to reports that the request would include $200 billion for infrastructure programs, White House press secretary Sean Spicer tweeted:
“Next week’s budget proposal is the “first step” in @POTUS's $1 trillion infrastructure plan.”
Perhaps the budget will include the “principles” of President Donald Trump’s infrastructure proposal that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said would be unveiled shortly.
Republicans and Democrats, as well as stakeholders in the transportation community, are expected to push back on aspects of the budget request. They had panned the “skinny” version in March, which called for significant cuts in the transportation, such as eliminating funding for Obama-era TIGER infrastructure grants. The “skinny” called for reducing discretionary transportation funding by 12.7%, then EPA funding would be reduced by 31%. At the Department of Energy, it would eliminate the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, which is researching battery technology and automated vehicles.
We heard Chao and top transportation policymakers in Congress say during the week of May 15 that “everything’s on the table” when it comes to funding options for Trump’s infrastructure funding plan. That, they said, suggested the potential of approving higher federal fuel taxes. We caught up with Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee (above), to see what he thought would fund an infrastructure plan. He agreed many options are being looked at, but he did not see a path forward for raising the gasoline and diesel taxes.
THE WEEK AHEAD (all times EDT):
May 23: The Office of Management and Budget unveils its fiscal 2018 budget request.
May 23, 8 a.m.: Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) speaks to NBC News and Axios about infrastructure.
May 23, 10 a.m.: House Ways and Means Committee holds a hearing focusing on border adjustment and international tax modernization.
May 23, 11:30 a.m.: The Hudson Institute holds a discussion with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on "Rural Broadband and Infrastructure Development." (Watch live.)
May 24, 9:30 a.m.: House Budget Committee holds a hearing on Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request with Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.
May 25, 9:45 a.m.: Senate Budget Committee holds a hearing on Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request with Mulvaney. (Watch live.)
May 25, 10 a.m.: Senate Finance Committee holds a hearing with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on the fiscal 2018 budget proposals for the Department of Treasury and tax reform. (Watch live.)
May 25, noon: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds a meeting by teleconference of the Unified Carrier Registration Plan Board of Directors on developing and implementing the unified carrier registration plan and agreement.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
MACK TRUCKS: As one part of its integrated powertrain strategy, Mack Trucks’ line of automated manual transmissions is seeing increasing adoption in the market, executives with the heavy-duty truck maker said.
FASTLANE: The recipients of federal grants designed to assist states to pay for large-scale freight projects will be announced soon, the country’s top transportation officer told a Senate panel May 17. “The department is set to award a number of FASTLANE grants very shortly,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao told senators on the Environment and Public Works Committee.
ENTRY-LEVEL: For the third time, the effective date for an entry-level driver training rule for truck drivers has been delayed, this time until June 5. The Dec. 8 final rule was due to go into effect originally on Feb. 6 but was delayed to March 21 and again until May 22.
Congressional aides suggest a letter asking Ways and Means to fix the Highway Trust Fund could get about 240 signatures from members of Congress. It’s now at 185 signatories.
WHAT WE’RE READING:
The Wall Street Journal’s David Harrison reports that infrastructure nationwide is really not as bad as some people make it seem.
You often hear about America's terrible infrastructure. The reality's more complicated, as U.S. bridges show. https://t.co/Cvdh5wJiFN— David Harrison (@d_harrison) May 22, 2017
“You can tell by the high opinion most Americans have of Congress right now, we’re perhaps not the best people to make that case. That you are better positioned than we are.”
— Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), at the Transportation Construction Coalition conference May 17 in Washington during Infrastructure Week.
Former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith interviewed by the Reason Foundation on infrastructure privatization.
Infrastructure funding proponent John Delaney, a Maryland Democrat, takes to the Twitterverse to call out Twitter-in-Chief Trump about the need for bipartisanship in modernizing the country’s roads and bridges.
If the president is serious about infrastructure he should look to a bipartisan plan that can pass Congress https://t.co/emHRhqutOx— Rep. John Delaney (@RepJohnDelaney) May 19, 2017