September 10, 2018 2:45 PM, EDT

Capitol Agenda for the Week of Sept. 10: Welcome to Normaltown

U.S. Capitol buildingPresent! Tour of the U.S. Capitol Building via YouTube

Dozens of cable news pundits earn a living by yelling at viewers multiple times a day to argue that what they’re seeing from President Donald Trump and his administration is not normal. Specifically, that Trump’s affinity for the Twitterverse is part of phenomena never before experienced by the American people. Accounts from former White House staffers, and the chronicles from elite journalists paint a picture of dysfunction and chaos that would rival the turmoil from the last days of the Roman Empire.

However, a close examination of life inside the Beltway shows one that this isn’t exactly Crazytown. This is, in fact, what the Washington status quo has looked like for many years.

Presidents always have relied on cutting edge modes of communication to connect with constituents. The White House’s war with the media predates Trump. Brett Kavanaugh is not the first Supreme Court nominee to endure confirmation hearings playing out along partisan lines. Again, the gridlock on Capitol Hill likely will force Congress to clear short-term extensions of authorizing legislation for myriad agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration. The end of the fiscal year is fast approaching, and the appropriations process has yet to wrap up. The Highway Trust Fund is on a path of insolvency. And congestion in our cities is worsening.

Not sure how the current state of affairs is abnormal.

Reacting to the ongoing wave of scrutiny confronting her boss, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, countered the cadre of pundits while on Meet The Press on Sept. 9,, “All this is noise ultimately in history.”

THE WEEK AHEAD: (all times EDT)

Sept. 11, 12 p.m.: The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration hosts a forum of the Office of Pipeline Safety to produce a national research agenda that fosters solutions to the many challenges with pipeline safety and protecting the environment.

Sept. 12, 12 p.m.: Airlines for America hosts its 2018 Commercial Aviation Industry Summit. Speakers include Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Sept. 13, 8 a.m.: Axios hosts a forum on autonomous vehicle technology with Rep. Robert Latta (R-Ohio), chairman of the Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee.

Sept. 13, 10 a.m.: The House Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee hosts a hearing on positive train control systems. Federal Railroad Administration chief Ronald Batory is scheduled to testify.

Brock Long of FEMA


Sept. 13, 1 p.m.: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hosts a hearing titled, “Evaluating Federal Disaster Response and Recovery Efforts.” Witnesses include Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator William “Brock” Long.

Sept 13, 1 p.m.: The Road to Zero Coalition hosts a meeting. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Associate Administrator Jeff Michael is scheduled to speak.

Sept. 13, 1 p.m.: The Bipartisan Policy Center hosts a discussion on American leadership in the world. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Maine) is a scheduled keynote speaker.

Sept. 13, 2 p.m.: The Reagan Institute holds its inaugural event with an address by House Speaker Paul Ryan, who will take questions from National Review’s Editor-in-Chief Rich Lowry.

Sept. 13, 6:30 p.m.: The Hill hosts a discussion on leadership and bipartisanship in Congress with Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), and Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and John Delaney of Maryland.

Sept. 14, 1 p.m.: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is hosting a listening session about its hours-of-service rules.


THE NET: An “incursion” nine months ago that shut down the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners still is causing delays in registering new examiners and backlogs for medical examiners to upload truck driver examinations, officials said. 

BACK TO THE FUTURE: Officials at transportation service provider Ruan got a chance to see Tesla Inc.’s prototype battery-electric heavy-duty truck, which toured the country recently, stopping at some carriers that have placed orders for the truck that is scheduled for fleet testing in 2019.

iROBOT: The small role Congress currently plays in policy for autonomous vehicle technology eventually could slow, or impede, progress for states and firms testing such systems, a key House transportation authorizer warned Sept. 5. 


What’s in a name? The absurd and unusal are found on street signs all across the land.


Is U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh an environmentalist? In a 2010 appeals court case, American Trucking Associations v. EPA, Kavanaugh came down on EPA’s side in a dispute over whether California had the right to regulate transportation refrigeration units in trucks.

Brett Kavanaugh


ATA argued that in granting California regulators the right to regulate the non-road units in 2004, the agency had misinterpreted and unreasonably applied the statutory criteria. But in writing the majority opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Kavanaugh rejected ATA’s legal claims, citing the Clean Air Act in the opinion. “We disagree, and we therefore deny the petition for review,” Kavanaugh wrote. “We have no legal basis in this case to disrupt that congressional scheme, overturn EPA’s decision, or otherwise disturb the California rule.”


It’s in everyone’s interests for the president to succeed, so, of course, I wish [Trump] all the luck in the world and I hope he continues to do good things for this country.

George Papadopoulos on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on Sept. 9

George Papadopolous


Autonomous technology talk, courtesy of Motor City’s Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.).


America's other football team.

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