[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]
Stop me if you’ve heard this: Elect me president, and I’ll rebuild the infrastructure in this country that most resembles facilities in the Third World.
You’d be correct if you said either Donald Trump or Joe Biden.
As a candidate and during the early part of his presidency, President Trump pledged to make America’s infrastructure great again. (With the election less than a year away, the self-proclaimed “Builder-in-Chief” produced an infrastructure plan that he has yet to drive across the finish line.)
But it was Biden who first made national headlines about the awful state of the nation’s mobility network after his description of LaGuardia Airport as a “Third World” facility.
Now, the former vice president turned 2020 presidential aspirant is out with a 10-year, $1.3 trillion plan that seeks to fix airports, ports, bridges, tunnels and everything in between.
As part of a wide-ranging policy plan, Biden’s proposal would look to develop energy-efficient engines for longhaul trucks, planes and ships. The objective here is to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
“Longhaul trucking, oceanic shipping and global aviation also contribute heavily to transit emissions,” according to his plan, archived on his campaign website.
It also would look to advance climate-resilient infrastructure projects, and increase funding for transportation and freight grants at the U.S. Department of Transportation. As noted, “These [grant] programs leverage local, state and private investment, and create innovative transportation models that can be replicated nationwide.”
On the thorny issue of funding, the Biden camp’s proposed approach to pay for this plan would entail stabilizing the Highway Trust Fund through “new revenues” and reversing “the excesses of the Trump tax cuts for corporations; reducing incentives for tax havens, evasion, and outsourcing; ensuring corporations pay their fair share; closing other loopholes in our tax code that reward wealth, not work; and ending subsidies for fossil fuels.”
The trust fund relies on revenue from the fuel tax, the rate of which was set in 1993.
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
Nov. 19, 8 a.m.: A lot of questions regarding the future of the transportation landscape remain unanswered, primarily due to Congress’ inability to respond to the policy needs of today’s system of highways, rail and airports. Reps. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Ind.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) participate in a panel discussion hosted by CQ Roll Call to articulate a vision for the future of freight. Lior Ron, head of Uber Freight, will join the discussion.
Nov. 19, 9 a.m.: The House Select Intelligence Committee continues its impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump with Jennifer Williams, special adviser for Europe and Russia in the Office of the Vice President, and Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, director for European Affairs at the National Security Council.
Nov. 19, 9:30 a.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board hosts a review of an airplane accident and an automated driving system accident. Both events occurred in 2018.
Nov. 19, 10 a.m.: The House Contracting and Infrastructure Subcommittee hosts a hearing titled: “Smart Construction: Increasing Opportunities for Small Businesses in Infrastructure.” Witnesses include Lennart Anderssen, director of virtual design, construction and operations for the LiRo Group, and professor at the Pratt Institute, New York, representing the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Construction Institute, the LiRo Group and the Pratt Institute; Ryan Forrestel, president of Cold Springs Construction, Akron, N.Y., representing the GPS Innovation Alliance; Bryn Fosburgh, senior vice president of Trimble, Inc., Westminster, Colo.; and Phillip Ogilby, CEO and co-founder of Stack Construction Technologies, Cincinnat.
Nov. 19, 10 a.m.: The House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee hosts a hearing titled, “Concepts for the Next Water Resources Development Act: Promoting Resiliency of our Nation’s Water Resources Infrastructure.”
Nov. 19, 2:30 p.m.: The House Select Intelligence Committee continues its impeachment inquiry of Trump with testimony from Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine; and Timothy Morrison, special assistant to the president and senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council.
Nov. 20, 9 a.m.: The House Select Intelligence Committee continues its impeachment inquiry of Trump with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.
Nov. 20, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee hosts a hearing titled, “Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology.” Witnesses include Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board; Joel Szabat, acting under Secretary of Transportation for Policy; and James Owens, acting administrator at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Nov. 20, 2:30 p.m.: The House Select Intelligence Committee continues its impeachment inquiry of Trump with deputy assistant Defense Secretary Laura Cooper; and undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale.
Nov. 21, 9 a.m.: The House Select Intelligence Committee continues its impeachment inquiry of Trump with Fiona Hill, former senior director for Europe and Russia at the National Security Council.
On “Face The Nation” Nov. 17, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she remains hopeful her caucus and Trump could work on an infrastructure policy plan. The impeachment inquiry, however, dominates the agenda in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Case You Missed It
Michael Graham is quickly closing in on a spot on the National Transportation Safety Board.
A Senate panel on Nov. 13 easily advanced his nomination. Republicans who manage the floor schedule have not announced a vote on the nominee.
The aviation training officer was most recently a director for Textron Aviation Inc.
At the offices of several top policymakers on Capitol Hill, news of a sidelined Mick Mulvaney has been well-received, sources tell Transport Topics. The acting White House chief of staff is seen as an opponent of a grand infrastructure deal.
In other news, it’s the economy (stupid).
People be writing entire articles about my tweets: https://t.co/2yMSsT0CEU— Jeff Davis (@JDwithTW) November 14, 2019
The Last Word
If the president can simply refuse all oversight, particularly in the context of an impeachment proceeding, the balance of power between our two branches of government will be irrevocably altered. That is not what the founders intended.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), on Nov. 13.
Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing: