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March 16, 2020 11:30 AM, EDT

House Transportation Leader Urges Trump to Work With Congress

U.S. CapitolThe Senate is expected to vote this week on an economic relief package that passed in the House of Representatives early Saturday morning. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

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As the coronavirus era continues, the transportation policy leader at the U.S. House of Representatives called on the Trump administration to work with members of Congress.

“The emergency declaration will only go so far, so I urge the Trump administration to work with Congress to address the many needs of millions of Americans who cannot and should not be forced to suffer the effects of this crisis on their own,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) said on March 13, soon after President Donald Trump declared the national emergency under the Stafford Act.

The declaration authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to develop and coordinate a national emergency response.

In February, DeFazio asked Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for details about the department’s preparation for the coronavirus.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.), chairwoman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee, added: “While I wish President Trump would have taken this action sooner, this emergency declaration will help bring relief to those who need it the most. Our local and state emergency managers need all the help they can get.”

In Trump’s emergency declaration, he encouraged state and municipalities to activate Emergency Operations Centers and to review emergency preparedness plans, among other actions. States and cities already are proceeding with various temporary bans on public activities to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“I expect FEMA to continue to review all ways in which it can provide assistance to states consistent with the authorities provided to it by this letter and by statute,” Trump explained.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a national emergency declaration to relax certain hours-of-service regulations for motor carriers transporting emergency relief in response to the outbreak. As reported in Transport Topics, that marked the first time FMCSA granted such nationwide relief.

“FMCSA is continuing to closely monitor the coronavirus outbreak and stands ready to use its authority to protect the health and safety of the American people,” said Jim Mullen, the agency’s acting administrator. Over the weekend, travelers at several airports took to social media to complain about massive crowds. Last week, the Trump administration issued certain restrictions on travel from Europe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that for the following eight weeks, people avoid gatherings of 50 individuals or greater. The CDC also recommends that families develop an emergency plan, make an emergency kit, gain information about essential medication and medical supplies, and ensure access to financial relief.

Trump Letter by Transport Topics on Scribd

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President Donald Trump on March 13 at the White House

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We publish weekly when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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