Passing Infrastructure Policies in New Congress

Ray LaHood
In February 2019, former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood described to the House transportation committee a four-step process that would bolster the nation's infrastructure systems. (House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee via YouTube)

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During the pandemic, the country’s transportation network garnered a spotlight as first responders and a workforce that includes truckers maneuvered through freight and commuter corridors. Crucial in the delivery of health care supplies, food and other goods is reliable “last-mile” access and a functioning aviation industry.

If one listens to infrastructure stakeholders, a recovery from the pandemic and an economic upturn is achieved with some degree of investments in transportation.

With congressional leaders negotiating a year-end fiscal 2021 funding package that would target transportation agencies, myriad sectors continue to press for billions of dollars in COVID-19 relief. Transit operators renewed their calls for additional aid to avoid disruptions in service. Port operators recently renewed such calls, as well.



As policymakers prepare to kick off the 117th session of Congress in January, they may again acknowledge there are a variety of transportation issues in need of attention. These include, for instance, autonomous vehicles, rural broadband, research and development, renewable energy and alternative sources of funding.

If policymakers are in need of guidance for advancing big-ticket transportation policy items, they could look back at the advice from President Barack Obama’s secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood.

Nearly two years ago, at the start of the 116th Congress, LaHood offered members of the U.S. House transportation committee a road map for passing comprehensive infrastructure legislation.


In this special two-part year in review, we look at the technology and regulatory developments that will help you and your business in 2021. Transport Topics Reporter Eleanor Lamb and Managing Editor for Features Seth Clevenger discuss HOS, software, equipment and more. Hear a snippet, above, and get the full program by going to

This four-step process for realizing such an endeavor consisted of acknowledging that a sustainable source of money is needed for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure programs. Then, deliver bipartisan legislation to the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee so those members resolve the Highway Trust Fund. At Ways and Means, approve a fuel tax increase that would help ensure the trust fund’s solvency. Finally, send a final bill to the Senate to clear it for the president’s signature.

Transportation leaders approved House and Senate highway bills but did not deliver to President Donald Trump the legislation during the 116th Congress. The Highway Trust Fund’s woes linked to the 1993 fuel tax rate continue to loom over policymakers, and the matter of updating the country’s highway law was pushed to September 2021.

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This is our final Capitol Agenda for the year. Thank you for your readership and feedback. We wish you happy holidays, and see you in 2021.

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