Pete Buttigieg Talks Safety, Supply Chain on 2024 Budget
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Agencies at the Department of Transportation tasked with advancing the safety of motorists would benefit from funding proposals included in the administration’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.
Specifically, programs at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would help tackle roadway safety concerns. The secretary highlighted a $3.1 billion funding request for safety programs which he explained are designed to “save lives through much-needed projects, as well as advanced safety research initiatives.” NHTSA data determined that there were nearly 43,000 traffic fatalities in 2021, marking a 10.5% increase from the year prior.
“This budget will support the department’s work in three major areas: running our agency operations effectively, building good projects well and protecting the safety of everyone who interacts with each part of America’s transportation system,” the secretary told the GOP-led Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. The panel is tasked with drafting a funding bill for the Department of Transportation.
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The White House budget request also focuses on supply chain connectivity operations. The administration is proposing $230 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program to advance programs meant to facilitate the movement of freight at commercial ports. Buttigieg touted the administration’s record: “With regard to supply chains, we’ve strengthened ports around the country — from smaller ports like Helena, Ark., and Kaskaskia, Ill., to major ones in Portsmouth, Va., and New York City.”
“This work complements the nearer-term efforts that have helped cut the number of ships idling at American ports from over a hundred down to the single digits, and contributed to Pacific shipping rates coming down 80%,” he added.
As lawmakers continue to craft their fiscal 2024 budget plans for the Department of Transportation, the secretary pointed to areas of potential bipartisanship. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which dedicates $1.2 trillion for myriad transportation accounts, exemplifies the art of the possible on Capitol Hill. As Buttigieg put it, “In recent years, Congress has proven that it can deliver — on a bipartisan basis — the kind of transformative infrastructure law that evaded our predecessors for decades. Now we need to bring that same bipartisan dedication to sustain those investments in America, and ensure they reach every person and every community, from the largest cities to the most rural communities.”
While most Senate Democrats expressed support for the White House’s funding request, senior Republicans are pushing back. In addition to pursuing robust oversight of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law’s implementation, GOP leaders also are questioning top-line funding proposals by the administration.
Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairwoman of the Appropriations Committee, said recently: “Republicans are working on policies that will grow and strengthen our economy. We will also find ways to reduce spending without impacting our national defense, our commitment to veterans or the services that Americans depend on.”
Biden’s $6.9 trillion budget proposal would dedicate nearly $1 billion for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, tasked with regulating commercial heavy-duty trucks and buses. That breakdown includes $435 million for FMCSA’s safety operations division and $516.3 million for its motor carrier safety grants unit. Specific to USDOT, the proposal would provide the Federal Highway Administration with $60.8 billion, the Federal Transit Administration with $17 billion, the Federal Railroad Administration with $4.8 billion, NHTSA with $1.3 billion and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration with $387.3 million.
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