October 1, 2018 2:00 PM, EDT

Capitol Agenda for the Week of Oct. 1: T&I Chairmanship and the Elephants in the Room

Reps. Sam Graves (left) and Jeff DenhamRepublican Reps. Sam Graves of Missouri (left) and Jeff Denham of California. (Eleanor Lamb/Transport Topics)

The Republicans’ top legislative priority for the year will be infrastructure, and President Donald Trump will lead the way promoting legislative efforts around the country while top lawmakers on Capitol Hill debate funding provisions and controversial proposals. If that sounds like 2018 it’s because our “Builder-in-Chief” had signaled as much at the start of this year. Trump would go on to abandon that plan.

Donald Trump


But now we’re talking about 2019. And, the two Republicans vying for the chairmanship of the transportation panel in the House told Transport Topics in separate interviews they will make it a priority to craft legislation aimed at rebuilding the country’s roads and bridges. Reps. Jeff Denham of California and Sam Graves of Missouri, one of whom very likely will be the next chairman (if Republicans hold on to the chamber after the November midterms), acknowledged identifying the source of funding for a massive infrastructure bill will challenge the committee, and their caucus. Thus far, Congress has opted not to take up Trump’s public-private partnerships-centric infrastructure proposal, and the outline offered by outgoing committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has somewhat been eclipsed by all the noise from inside the Beltway.

“I think it’s going to take multiple sources. You know, where we can use federal financing. I think we gotta first start by unleashing the capital that we have today that’s oftentimes too burdensome that private companies, or local entities, won’t apply for some of those different loans or financing mechanisms,” Denham explained.

“So, Shuster put out some ideas and some things to get people talking. But the committee will have something completely different, I’m sure," Graves said. "The point is, highway funding is the biggest problem facing transportation, and I have been leading the charge to build consensus and find solutions since we passed the last highway bill.”

The two lawmakers also shared thoughts on autonomous vehicles, freight policy and the current political climate. Full coverage of our interviews with Denham and Graves will be published this week.

THE WEEK AHEAD: (all times EDT)

Oct. 2, 9:30 a.m.: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is hosting a listening session on its hours-of-service rules. The event will be held at the MetroPlan Orlando, 250 S. Orange Ave., Suite 200, in Orlando, Fla. The agency will provide a webcast.

FRA Administrator Ronald Batory


Oct. 3, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee will seek an update on the implementation of positive train control. Witnesses will include Ronald Batory, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; Susan Fleming, director of physical infrastructure issues at the Government Accountability Office; Kevin Corbett, executive director of NJ Transit; and Scot Naparstek, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Amtrak.

Oct 3, 2:15 p.m.: The Senate Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee will meet for a hearing titled, “Oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Implementation of Sound and Transparent Science in Regulation.”


Mark Hazelwood


BIG HOUSE: Former Pilot Flying J President Mark Hazelwood was sentenced to 12½ years in prison and fined $750,000 on Sept. 26 for his leadership role in a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat truckers out of diesel fuel rebates.

BUILT TOUGH: Ford Trucks offers only light- and medium-duty vehicles in North America, but the brand is aiming to make a splash in the heavy-duty segment in certain international markets.

X MEN: XPO Logistics Inc. is joining the growing ranks of trucking and logistical companies offering its employees some kind of educational benefit to combat the nationwide shortage of truck drivers and technicians.


The Man from Tesla scrutinized.


Blame the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for senators’ inability to wrap up the fiscal 2019 Transportation-Housing and Urban Development funding bill by the Sept. 30 deadline, people familiar with the matter told Transport Topics.


My constituents are New Yorkers; they’re fast paced, they want to see it. They want to see the president impeached yesterday.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” on Sept. 30

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)



Outgoing Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster recently gave vehicle-miles-traveled fees a thumbs up.


A lesson in history, courtesy of the former Arkansas governor.

Thanks for reading Capitol Agenda. We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.