Share
February 22, 2021 12:00 PM, EST

House Transportation Republicans Urge Bipartisan Policymaking

Rep. Sam GravesRep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, is the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee's ranking member. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

Although Democrats have the votes to send to the White House legislation sans Republicans, albeit procedurally, there’s been talk about bipartisanship on the major stuff.

During his inaugural address, President Joe Biden pointed to bipartisanship as a pillar for governance. Other top Democrats echoed the sentiment. Then, if congressional Democrats, in the majority for the next two years, intend to advance a big-ticket infrastructure package with bipartisan support, they’ll need Republicans to do so.

It’s an obvious observation — and one Republicans are reminding Democrats about.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

Shortly after the House transportation panel handed off pandemic aid recommendations to the Budget Committee, transportation Republican policymakers called the process partisan. They said that, for the most part, their input was rebuffed.

They observed, “During this time of great uncertainty for Americans, we should be providing sound budget policy targeted precisely where funds are necessary.”

“Other COVID[-19] relief packages have come together with bipartisan development and support, and we are truly disappointed that we cannot continue working together in the same manner due to the partisan path directed by the speaker of the House,” the House Transportation & Infrastructure GOP wrote in a “minority dissenting views” memo Feb. 17.

The authors included Rep. Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican who serves as the panel’s ranking member.

For emphasis, the Republicans detailed bipartisan efforts during the panel’s consideration of aid recommendations they said were rejected by Democrats.

Transportation & Infrastructre Committee-disenting-View by Transport Topics on Scribd

“Republicans stood prepared to debate and negotiate budget priorities in good faith. However, in the [U.S.] House of Representatives, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi decided to begin this Congress by ignoring the input of more than 200 House members and moving forward with a hastily drafted multitrillion-dollar spending measure,” the memo also said.

House managers this week, in fact, plan to press ahead with a nearly $2 trillion COVID-19 aid package via strict budget rules. To actually pass such legislation, Democrats will need to unify. This elevates the profile of several not-so-liberal conservative-esque Democrats. Think, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Biden and the leadership on Capitol Hill continue to signal interest in presenting to the public a big-ticket, climate change-centric, transformative infrastructure plan.

We just have to wait until a new round of COVID-19 relief is enacted into law, which could occur as early as this month. And, to paraphrase Graves & Co., it’s not bipartisan if Democrats legislate alone.

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

Feb. 23, 10 a.m.: The House Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Strategies for Energy and Climate Innovation.” Witnesses include Colin Cunliff, senior policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation; Robin Millican, director of Breakthrough Energy; Shobita Parthasarathy, director of the University of Michigan’s Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program; and Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath.

Rep. Seth Moultop

Moulton

Feb. 23, 11 a.m.: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosts a forum on infrastructure. Speakers include Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.).

Feb. 23, 11 a.m.: The House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Building Back Better: The Urgent Need for Investment in America’s Wastewater Infrastructure.”

Feb. 24, 9:30 a.m.: The House Homeland Security Committee meets for a hearing titled, “Confronting the Coronavirus: Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic One Year Later.”

Feb. 24, 11 a.m.: The House Highways and Transit Subcommittee meets for a hearing to examine safety policy.

Freight Corridor

Spotlighting Biden’s EPA nominee and his journey toward confirmation.

Legislative Docket

Rep. Peter DeFazio

DeFazio

There are funds, and then there is the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and ranking member Sam Graves (R-Mo.), are calling on the president to propose in his upcoming budget request to Congress the full utilization of the fund.

Doing so, they insist, would lead to the availability of billions of dollars for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That money would then back maintenance projects at ports and harbors.

The lawmakers wrote Feb. 11: “By taking advantage of these increased spending limits in your [fiscal] 2022 budget request and releasing these funds, you can maximize the capability of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to meet existing federal harbor maintenance obligations and have an immediate positive benefit on our Nation’s economy and critical infrastructure.”

Buzz

$3 trillion: Officials inside the Beltway are throwing around that figure when talking about POTUS’ soon-to-be-released infrastructure plan.

Favorite Video

Everything is competition.

Favorite Tweet

Live the Salt Life.

The Last Word

We have no power to convict and disqualify a former officeholder who is now a private citizen.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Feb. 13

Sen. Mitch McConnell

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

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: