Rep. Rick Crawford to Oversee Highways Amid Supply Chain Oversight
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The House panel tasked with monitoring the nation’s highways has a new leader in Rep. Rick Crawford at a time when Republicans prepare to review the Biden White House’s supply chain policies.
As the next manager of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee, Crawford (R-Ark.) was tapped to assist with the oversight of the implementation of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law. Nearly half of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s multiyear authorization is linked to the country’s surface mobility grid.
The transportation committee will meet Feb. 1 to kick off its oversight agenda of the Biden administration, taking aim at supply chain programs.
Arkansas Republican Rep. Rick Crawford (crawford.house.gov)
“An efficient and safe highway system is critical to America’s competitiveness in the global economy and a vital component of our national security,” Crawford said Jan. 27. “I look forward to providing vigorous oversight of IIJA to ensure that those funds are spent on projects that are priorities for states and local government.”
Transportation Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.), the GOP caucus’ point man on infrastructure oversight, expressed optimism about his leadership team’s acumen to carefully review IIJA provisions over the next two years.
Other subcommittee chair appointments made last week:
• Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) — Aviation
• Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) — Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation
• Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas) — Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials
• Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) — Water Resources and Environment
• Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) —Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management
“Our subcommittee chairs bring to the table a broad array of talent, proven leadership capabilities and legislative expertise,” Graves said Jan. 27. “This is an effective team of returning leaders, as well as two new lead Republicans to bring fresh ideas and perspectives to the committee’s important work.
“This will be a busy congress for [Transportation and Infrastructure], and these chairs are all ready to get to work in our newfound Republican majority to ensure a stronger, safer and more efficient transportation and infrastructure network for our country.”
The committee will welcome representatives from the trucking, rail and port sectors for a hearing Feb. 1 on supply chain connectivity. Stakeholders include Chris Spear, president of American Trucking Associations; Ian Jefferies, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads; and Roger Guenther, executive director at Port Houston.
A closer look at supply chain policies is a focus of House Republicans’ oversight agenda. Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), a member of the transportation panel, recently introduced a bill meant to promote safety and enhance capacity along supply chain operations.
“Americans experienced a slew of freight disruptions during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,” Johnson said Jan. 24. The legislation has yet to be scheduled for committee consideration. “Last year, we addressed ocean shipping reform, and it’s clear that updates are needed for other parts of the supply chain.”
Specific to its supply chain response, the administration created a task force to enhance communication among its agencies and the private sector. At the Department of Transportation, funding has been dedicated for ports to expedite the flow of commodities and goods along freight corridors.
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
Feb. 1, 9:30 a.m.: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee examines freight supply chain policies. Witnesses include Chris Spear, president of American Trucking Associations. Watch the hearing here.
In a post-pandemic economy, industry is seeking to move more trucks on the road again.
Legislation that aims to allow young commercial drivers to transport freight from ports recently was introduced in the House of Representatives. Led by Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), the Ceasing Age-Based (CAB) Trucking Restrictions Act would classify certain statewide freight operations linked to ports as in-state matters.
“For the better part of two years, families have struggled to get the goods they need, from baby formula to toilet paper, and Joe Biden has failed to fix it,” Mast said in a statement Jan. 10 that accompanied the bill’s introduction.
Truckers who are 18 to 20 years old are allowed to drive commercial vehicles in intrastate commerce in nearly every state and the District of Columbia. However, these drivers are prohibited from transporting freight originating from U.S. ports of entry. Such ports are considered interstate commerce. Changing that classification at ports would pave the way for those young truck drivers to transport freight from these facilities.
Bill Sullivan, ATA executive vice president of advocacy, commended Mast’s bill.
“As America and the world learned in recent years, our economy is held together by trucks. Widening and deepening the pool of talent to drive those trucks is vital to addressing economic growth, mitigating inflation and ensuring delivery of our nation’s freight.”
ATA recently determined the industry is short approximately 78,000 drivers. That is down slightly from the previous estimate of 80,000.
A longtime proponent of autonomous vehicles will manage technology policies in the House during the 118th Congress. The GOP caucus this month selected Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) as chairman of the Communications & Technology Subcommittee.
I look forward to the advancements we have made in recent years.
Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio)Image
“I am prepared to steer the subcommittee in pursuit of policies that benefit our communities and keep the United States at the forefront of innovation,” Latta said Jan. 25. “I look forward to building on the advancements we have made in recent years, including increasing access to reliable internet via rural broadband, cracking down on illegal robocalls and unleashing more spectrum for improved consumer connectivity.”
A Team Extreme Caucus.
Top Transpo Dem: Let’s get to work.
"Sykes will be a strong advocate for building an economy that works for all, creating jobs that families can thrive on, and building and rebuilding infrastructure that preserves our environment."
Ranking Member @RepRickLarsen welcomed @RepEmiliaSykes to @TransportDems. pic.twitter.com/KgztzEvjix — Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (@TransportDems) January 27, 2023
The Last Word
Every year, human traffickers seek to use America’s transportation systems to facilitate unspeakable crimes.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Jan. 27Image
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