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February 16, 2021 11:00 AM, EST

Infrastructure Initiatives Remain a Top Priority for Congress, White House

Rep. Mike BostRep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), shown on election night in 2020, offered an amendment that was designed to enhance nationwide parking options for truck drivers. Bost later withdrew his amendment. (WSIL via YouTube)

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Now that former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial is out of the way, Congress and the White House say they can finally get to legislating.

For infrastructure and transportation policymakers, this probably means an opportunity to ready the advancement of major pieces of legislation on freight, climate, highways and autonomous vehicles.

Already, the leadership of the congressional highway committees (i.e., Senate Environment and Public Works, House Transportation & Infrastructure) indicated they are crafting bipartisan measures focused on infrastructure, climate change and renewable energy.

Eugene Mulero

Mulero

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), EPW’s new chairman, met recently at the White House with fellow Delawarian, President Joe Biden, for some strategizing.

The chairman observed, “President Biden made it clear that investing in our transportation is a top priority. The American people desperately want us to bring our roads, trains and bridges out of the last century and into the future. … I’m currently putting together a bipartisan bill that does just that, and I’m glad it’s at the top of the administration’s agenda.”

Carper’s counterpart in the House, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), recently managed a markup on funding proposals for sectors affected by the pandemic. The hearing served as a forum for lawmakers to highlight concerns across sectors, such as transit, railroads, pipelines, waterways, ports, et al. Per trucking, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.) had offered an amendment that was designed to enhance nationwide parking options for truck drivers. Although the congressman withdrew his amendment, members of the committee expressed a commitment to revisit concerns related to the trucking industry.

Rep Mike Bost Amendment by Transport Topics on Scribd

To emphasize the point, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Feb. 11, “The president, vice president, [transportation] secretary, and senators established the mutual understanding that America needs to build new infrastructure across urban and rural areas, and create millions of good-paying jobs in the process of supporting the country’s economic recovery in the months and years ahead.”

She continued: “Building sustainable infrastructure that will withstand the impacts of climate change and fuel an American clean energy revolution[is the goal.]”

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

Feb. 17, 11 a.m.: The House Energy and Commerce hosts a hearing on broadband.

Feb. 18, 11:30 a.m.: The House Energy Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “A Smarter Investment: Pathways to a Clean Energy Future.”

Feb. 19, 10 a.m.: The House Appropriations Committee examines the impact of COVID-19.

Freight Corridor

“Jefferson Davis Highway” no more. The Virginia House votes to turn it into ‘Emancipation Highway.’ ” per WTOP.

Legislative Docket

Richard Blumenthal

Blumenthal

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is proposing legislation meant to amplify the White House’s mask mandate. Under the bill, Joe Biden’s mask order would be a requirement during the national health emergency.

The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to collaborate with agencies to assist transportation workers in gaining priority access to COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment.

In a joint statement with co-sponsors, Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Blumenthal noted the bill would “put in place strong health and safety standards” for transportation workers.

Buzz

The transit and aviation sectors are likely to gain significant assistance under the pandemic relief measure making its way through Congress, several observers tell Transport Topics.

Favorite Video

Honoring those who serve and protect.

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If you don’t know, now you know.

The Last Word

We depend on many essential workers for our economy and for our way of life.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Feb. 5

Pete Buttigieg

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

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