Rep. Sam Graves to Lead House Transportation Panel

Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.)
Missouri Republican Rep. Sam Graves becomes the committee's 20th chairman. (Transportation & Infrastructure Committee)

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A familiar face in the transportation community will lead the congressional committee on freight policy in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republicans in the chamber chose Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) to manage the affairs of the Transportation and Infrastructure panel during the 118th session of Congress.

With Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) voted in as speaker at the start of the month after an eventful weekslong debate, the chamber kicked off its legislative agenda for the next two years. Graves, formerly the committee’s ranking member, succeeded retired Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

A longtime member of the committee, Graves has pledged to expand oversight of the Biden administration, advance policies specific to the panel’s jurisdiction and improve supply chain connectivity.

“America cannot prosper without a safe and efficient transportation network that meets the economic needs of our diverse states and communities,” Graves said in a statement Jan. 10.

Senior Republicans have expressed interest in proceeding with investigative hearings featuring senior Biden administration officials. For transportation policy, matters related to the implementation of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will be front and center for House Republicans.

“[Transportation and Infrastructure] will have a full agenda over the next two years, including oversight of the administration, its implementation of the massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure law, and its policies that have exacerbated many of the economic crises facing our nation,” he continued. “We also have an important legislative agenda ahead, including looking at packages to help alleviate ongoing energy and supply chain problems.”

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Republican policymakers recently have criticized the White House’s “fix-it-first” infrastructure guidance for state agencies. A memo from the Federal Highway Administration outlining such guidance has thus far dominated the GOP’s approach to oversight of the administration.

In addition to elevating scrutiny of the $1 trillion infrastructure law’s implementation, the transportation committee’s radar includes potential updates to legislation central to the connectivity of goods and people. Over the next two years, transportation leaders on Capitol Hill will be tasked with updating the policy landscape for the nation’s pipeline regulator, advancing a water infrastructure bill and updating rules at the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency overseeing the nation’s flight regulations has captured lawmakers’ attention after a series of high-profile disruptions. Massive flight cancellations to Southwest Airlines operations during the Christmas holiday is the latest stumble for the industry.

Meanwhile, the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Rick Larsen of Washington, congratulated Graves on his appointment.

“Graves and I came to Congress in the same class 22 years ago, and now I offer my congratulations to him on becoming the 20th chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee,” Larsen said Jan. 10.

“From reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard, and pipeline safety programs to another Water Resources Development Act and implementation of the bipartisan infrastructure law,” Larsen added, “we have a lot of work to do to keep the economy moving and to build a safer and more accessible transportation system.”

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