On May 22, just before the start of the busy summer driving season, the transportation world will tune in to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to see what comes out of a meeting between the self-proclaimed “Builder-in-Chief” and the lawmakers investigating his 2016 campaign.
President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats agreed to proceed with a $2 trillion infrastructure package April 30. Yet, they haven’t announced how to pay for the measure.
The president’s team has indicated all funding options are on the table. If so, then an all-of-the-above funding approach would be a reasonable expectation out of Trump.
Democrats led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want the president to lead the way on the funding question.
“He needs to provide leadership. He’s our president. That’s why they pay the presidents the big bucks,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member on the surface transportation panel, told reporters May 14 during Infrastructure Week.
Hundreds of officials also have said they are looking to Trump for his guidance on infrastructure funding.
During Infrastructure Week, these proponents expressed optimism about the chances of a bill reaching Trump’s desk this year. They cited studies determining that a reliable federal partner would help improve commerce by reducing highway congestion.
The window for legislative action on infrastructure policy is not getting bigger.
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
May 23, 8:30 a.m.: Funding leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives will take up a fiscal 2020 transportation measure likely to ignore the White House’s calls to reduce funding for transit accounts and passenger rail. Also, of note, for the next fiscal year the president is requesting $1 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants, and $2 billion for Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, or INFRA, grants.
May 21, 10 a.m.: The House Investigations Oversight Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “The Need for Resilience: Preparing America’s Transportation Infrastructure for Climate Change.”
May 21, 1 p.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board meets on the accident report regarding the Amtrak derailment in Washington state in 2017.
May 21-23: The National Utility Contractors Association hosts its Washington Summit.
May 22, 9:30 a.m.: The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security hosts a meeting of the Transportation and Related Equipment Technical Advisory Committee.
May 22, 9:30 a.m.: The Surface Transportation Board meets to gather input from railroads, shippers, receivers, third-party logistics providers, and stakeholders on demurrage.
May 22, 10 a.m.: The House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee reviews the Trump fiscal 2020 budget request.
May 22, 10 a.m.: The House Energy and Commerce Committee meets to debate “LIFT America: Modernizing Our Infrastructure for the Future.”
May 22, 11 a.m.: Trump meets congressional leaders on infrastructure funding.
May 22, 2 p.m.: The House Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee meets to examine FEMA readiness.
May 23, 9 a.m.: The Washington Post meets with South Bend, Ind., Mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Peter Buttigieg.
May 23, 9 a.m.: The House Select Climate Crisis Committee meets to explore resiliency proposals.
May 23, 10 a.m.: The Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee meets to review the summer driving season.
May 23, 6 p.m.: The Maryland Democratic Party holds a discussion with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).
Stakeholder feedback after Infrastructure Week points to a greater degree of optimism that some type of a compromise will be reached this year on funding. It’s been said, hope springs eternal.
In Case You Missed It
The White House’s messaging clinic continues. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had his view on the prospects of a $2 trillion infrastructure package. The president’s view appeared dissimilar.
A rendition of Amazon's planned headquarters in the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington County, Va. The yellow buildings mark Amazon's future campus. (Courtesy of JBG Smith)
The Amazon behemoth is coming to the Crystal City neighborhood of Arlington County, Va. Transportation officials, lawmakers and stakeholders agree the company’s arrival will transform the look of Crystal City, nearby North End of Old Town Alexandria and the region.
Throughout the summer, Capitol Agenda will feature weekly snapshots about the project, with insight and analysis from decision-makers.
Dennis Leach, the county’s deputy director of transportation, recently told Transport Topics about efforts to improve the area’s traffic flow. Tune in June 3 for the full interview.
Senate Commerce Committee members should be prepared to debate autonomous vehicle policy during this term. Panel Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on May 16 examining the advancements in autonomous technology is on his radar.
BK Lounge 2.0.
Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the top Republican on the transportation panel, was among the dozens of lawmakers who made the rounds during Infrastructure Week.
Thanks to the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors for inviting me to talk about the importance of investing in our nation’s infrastructure yesterday. I will continue working to make an infrastructure bill a reality. #InfrastructureWeek pic.twitter.com/3KI35CuUFD— Rep. Sam Graves (@RepSamGraves) May 15, 2019
The Last Word
All of us at DOT are doing what we can to move projects faster.
Federal Highway Administration Chief Nicole Nason, at the Transportation Construction Coalition on May 14.