Transportation Funding Debate Set to Go to House Floor
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A comprehensive fiscal 2024 transportation funding bill, which proposes budget reductions for certain rail and transit operations, is expected on the House floor this week.
The House transportation bill’s consideration, which is likely to culminate in a vote before the end of the week, is seen as another test for the nascent tenure of Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). While transportation and infrastructure policies were once bipartisan bastions on Capitol Hill, congressional Republicans are taking aim at President Joe Biden’s agenda. Issues bound to loom large for Republicans managing the debate on the bill are climate change, transportation equity and myriad passenger and urban commuter rail programs.
Senior members of Johnson’s caucus are planning to chip away at the administration’s proposals.
“The bill … bars DOT from imposing new carbon emission reduction targets for highway projects. This would be particularly burdensome for small and rural communities,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), transportation funding subcommittee chairman, said earlier this month. “The bill prohibits funds for drones subsidized by the Chinese government. This will safeguard our national security and create a fair playing field for American manufacturers.”
Rep. Tom Cole is shown during a meeting on the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 in May. (Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg News)
Cole further emphasized: “These are just a few of the policy provisions in the bill that will scale back the Biden administration’s overreach. I am pleased that we have received several amendments that will do even more to keep a check on the excesses of this administration.”
Congressional leaders are operating under a Nov. 17 deadline to advance their funding appropriations bills to the White House. Inaction on funding policy by the deadline would trigger a partial government shutdown. Senior Biden administration officials are urging Congress to avert a shutdown.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has indicated a federal shutdown would expose the nation’s connectivity network to potential disruptions. This month, the secretary is visiting big-ticket projects that have benefited from funds approved in 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The $1.2 trillion IIJA bipartisan infrastructure law was signed Nov. 15, 2021.
Overall, the House’s $90.2 billion appropriations bill for the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development would dedicate to:
Federal Highway Administration: $62 billion
Federal Aviation Administration: $19.5 billion
Federal Transit Administration: $14.6 billion
Federal Railroad Administration: $1.4 billion
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration: Nearly $1 billion
Note: The Senate-passed version proposes a higher budget allocation for DOT's budget.
During a recent trip to New York City, for instance, the secretary highlighted construction of a once-delayed rail tunnel project between New York and New Jersey. The administration also recently announced more than $653 million for 41 port improvement projects. The funding stems from nearly $17 billion included in the bipartisan infrastructure law.
“Everything from the food we eat to the cars we drive to the lumber and steel used to build our homes passes through America’s ports, making them some of the most critical links in our nation’s supply chain,” Buttigieg said Nov. 3. “These investments will help expand capacity and speed up the movement of goods through our ports, contributing to cleaner air and more good-paying jobs as we go.”
The previous week, DOT announced $82.6 million in grants to 235 communities for planning and projects meant to improve safety and prevent deaths and serious injuries on roadways.
“In the past five years, the communities we are awarding these grants to experienced nearly 14,000 roadway deaths,” the secretary said. “To help change that unacceptable reality, we are proud to deliver this needed funding to help them address their unique safety needs and save lives.”
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
Nov. 7, 2:30 p.m.: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets for a hearing titled, “Understanding Roadway Safety: Examining the Causes of Roadway Safety Challenges and Possible Interventions.” Witnesses include Brenda Neville, president and CEO of the Iowa Motor Truck Association.
Legislation meant to safeguard certain identifiable information of individuals moving internationally was advanced this month by a House committee.
Sponsored by Reps. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.) and Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), the bipartisan Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act aims to protect individuals’ personal information from public disclosure. Specifically, the bill would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to remove personally identifiable information from cargo manifests before public disclosure. Such information includes Social Security and passport numbers. The measure is specific to individuals moving internationally with household goods.
“Privacy is deeply important for all Americans, in particular our service members abroad,” Pascrell said Nov. 2. “Unfortunately, we have found that our troops have been victims of identity theft. For security purposes, U.S. Customs and Border Protection requires manifest sheets to document the cargo of incoming vessels.”
“The bipartisan Moving Americans Privacy Protection Act is a common-sense measure to ensure the data on manifests cannot be abused. Our plan will protect Americans from accidentally having personal information end up in the wrong hands,” the Garden State congressman continued. The bill’s floor consideration in the GOP-led chamber has yet to be scheduled.
Congressional leaders are expected to kick off conference negotiations to finalize the annual Pentagon policy bill. Tucked in the House and Senate versions of the defense policy bills are provisions mandating the Department of Defense to greenlight certain standards for accessing military installations. A report accompanying the Senate defense bill sought to explicate the trucking provision: “The committee notes that there is no universal access standard across the services, which can lead to project delays for military construction projects, facilities repairs and household good moves.”
The talented Mr. Santos.
This is hurricane country.
Speaker Johnson calls his personal transition to the speakership as an "F5 hurricane"
"I'm from Louisiana so I describe everything in football or hurricane metaphors" — K Tully-McManus (@ktullymcmanus) November 2, 2023
The Last Word
For decades, corporate America has funneled billions of dollars into elections in favor of politicians who favor their woke, social agendas — instead of American voters’ interests.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Oct. 31Image
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