Senate Leaders Champion Biden’s Budget Proposal

Chuck Schumer: ‘It Fits the Needs of American Families’
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Democratic leaders in the Senate touted the Biden administration’s plan for boosting safety and supply chain connectivity across transportation systems.

After the White House on March 9 unveiled a $6.9 trillion fiscal 2024 budget for Congress’ consideration, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer proclaimed the occasion as “a very good day to be here in Washington.”

“His budget would impact every single family, from coast to coast, every single American family is affected by his legislation in positive ways that people really, really want and have asked for,” Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Capitol Hill.

Calling it a “great budget,” Schumer went on: “It fits the needs of American families to a tee and gives them the kind of hope and optimism that America is moving in the right direction, and paying attention to their needs.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) comments on fiscal 2024 budget proposal

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) says the proposed budget would impact every single family, from coast to coast." (Al Drago/Bloomberg News) 

Senate Democratic leaders, echoing Schumer’s remarks, also emphasized aspects of the budget request meant for infrastructure rebuilding campaigns.

Biden, too, highlighted funding proposals for infrastructure projects contained in his budget. Such funding has been amplified by the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law enacted in 2021. Speaking in the City of Brotherly Love on March 9, the president recalled a not-so-distant era marked by the elusiveness of an “infrastructure week.”



“Remember, every year, that it’s going to be infrastructure week? Well, we got infrastructure decade,” Biden said at the Finishing Trades Institute in Philadelphia. “And a modern infrastructure will not only make us more economically competitive, it’s going to create more benefits, save money for the country and families.”

According to background from the administration, the $108.5 billion fiscal 2024 budget request for the Department of Transportation “will build on our tremendous progress by prioritizing important infrastructure improvements, innovative safety interventions, key systems modernizations, and a multitude of new and continuing grant programs that invest in transportation projects that impact American people’s lives.”

Specifically, the request would dedicate more than $1.3 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. On supply chain matters, the budget would provide $230 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program. Despite the overwhelming backing from top congressional Democrats, senior Republicans are prepared to oppose the budget request in both chambers.

“The president’s budget increases taxes by $4.7 trillion. And this comes after Democrats added hundreds of billions in tax increases in the Inflation Reduction Act,” Ways and Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.) said March 9. “The American people are suffering under the weight of this administration’s inflationary policies and deserve to know precisely how the Biden administration intends to raise their taxes.”

“Democrats’ reckless spending spree sent costs to a 40-year high. Record-high prices for gas and groceries have made it harder for families to keep up,” argued Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of the GOP caucus’ leadership team. “Now, Joe Biden wants to spend even more. Instead of lowering costs, the president is raising taxes.”

The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)

March 13-15: The American Public Transportation Association hosts its 2023 Legislative Conference.

March 15, 9 a.m.: Government Executive Media Group holds a virtual Infrastructure Forum.

March 15, 10 a.m.: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meets for a hearing on the implementation of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law of 2021. Watch the hearing here.

March 16, 10 a.m.: Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hosts a hearing titled, “Local Views on Public Transportation, Transit Infrastructure and Operations, and Federal Transit Programs.”

Freight Corridor

It’s not just all hockey and maple syrup in Vermont.

Legislative Docket

Legislation to repeal a tax on the purchase of new trucks was recently introduced. Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.) and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) on March 8 unveiled a bipartisan measure targeting the World War I-era tax on new trucks. The measure would specifically undo a 12% excise tax on heavy-duty vehicles and trailers.

Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), left, and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.)

Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), left, and Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) 

“On one hand, regulators want operators out of older trucks, but on the other hand, this tax penalizes them for trying to update their equipment. Repealing the 12% federal excise tax on heavy trucks and trailers will help all businesses reduce costs, address supply chain challenges and lower costs for essential goods for families, especially in rural areas,” said LaMalfa, a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

On the other side of the Capitol, Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced similar legislation. The Modern, Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2023 would repeal the federal excise tax on heavy trucks and trailers.

Sen. Ben Cardin


“The current federal excise tax has become a barrier to our progress in encouraging cleaner and greener technology,” Cardin said. “I am proud to support tax policy that enables Maryland manufacturers to innovate and deploy cleaner and safer technologies in our trucking industry. Our legislation will spur growth and competitiveness while making our roads safer and less polluted.”

“It’s time to repeal this outdated and onerous tax on our Hoosier truckers,” Young added. “Our bipartisan bill will open the floodgates to investment in safer and cleaner trucks and trailers that will benefit our economy and the environment.”


The Federal Railroad Administration indicated it will conduct a 60-day supplemental safety assessment of Norfolk Southern.

“After a series of derailments and the death of one of its workers, we are initiating this further supplemental safety review of Norfolk Southern, while also calling on Norfolk Southern to act urgently to improve its focus on safety so the company can begin earning back the trust of the public and its employees,” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on March 8. “This comes as U.S. DOT continues its own urgent actions to further improve freight rail safety and accountability.”

Favorite Video

Keeping Ohio in focus.

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March Madness.

The Last Word

We've accomplished a lot, but we still have more to do.

Vice President Kamala Harris on March 8

Vice President Kamala Harris

We publish Mondays when Congress is in session. See previous installments of Capitol Agenda here. Email with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.

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