Supply Chain to Dominate House Panel Hearing May 10
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Again and again, Washington’s transportation intelligentsia reminds the country of the supply chain’s vital role.
Transporting freight, from ports to the consumer, entails serious planning complemented by precision and intention. Logistics firms as well as many commercial transportation stakeholders continue their round-the-clock operations to, simply put, keep everything moving.
The post-pandemic economy elevated supply chain themes to the mainstream. Congress and the Biden administration stepped in with policies to assist industries. The aim was to alleviate disruptions associated with the flow of freight.
This week, House transportation policymakers intend to hold a hearing that examines aspects of the administration’s supply chain action plan. The May 10 gathering of the Highways and Transit Subcommittee is “focused on the trucking industry’s role in overcoming supply chain challenges.”
Arkansas Republican Rep. Rick Crawford. (Al Drago/Bloomberg News)
“Following up on the first hearing of the 118th Congress, the committee continues to focus on ongoing supply chain challenges throughout the transportation sector, with the goal of identifying potential legislative solutions,” per background information the committee provided.
For this “Freight Forward: Overcoming Supply Chain Challenges to Deliver for America” hearing, the subcommittee scheduled expert testimony from: William “Lewie” Pugh, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association; Anne Reinke, president and CEO of the Transportation Intermediaries Association; David Fialkov, executive vice president of government affairs at Natso; and Cole Scandaglia, senior legislative representative and policy adviser with the Teamsters union. Chairing the hearing will be Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.).
The hearing, which is meant to inform policymakers tasked with crafting legislation, is being held shortly after the Government Accountability Office recommended the Department of Transportation develop timelines to update the Federal Highway Administration’s Freight and Land Use Handbook. That is a document that serves as a guide for stakeholders.
The federal government watchdog suggested developing a strategy for communicating details about the updated handbook with stakeholders. “Freight stakeholders,” according to highlights of the recent report, “told GAO they develop inland facilities, which GAO refers to as inland intermodal freight facilities, to increase supply chain mobility, reduce marine terminal congestion and process freight. Freight stakeholders use such facilities to transfer cargo containers between modes of transportation … to enable cargo to move through the supply chain.”
Earlier this year, House lawmakers took aim at freight connectivity concerns with a bill that would dedicate funds to expand truckers’ access to parking nationwide. The Safer Highways and Increased Performance for Interstate Trucking (SHIP IT) Act, introduced by Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Jim Costa (D-Calif.), would approve nearly $800 million through fiscal 2026 for parking projects connected to commercial vehicle operations.
“It is the sense of Congress that it should be a national priority to address the shortage of parking for commercial motor vehicles on the federal-aid highway system to improve highway safety,” according to the bill, which also would promote safety and enhance capacity along freight corridors.
The House also recently passed a Republican-led energy and infrastructure permitting legislation. Sponsors of the bill said it captured the caucus’ priorities for their domestic policy agenda.
"It’s time to focus on addressing long-standing #supplychain issues to ensure we are prepared when large import volumes return or the next major disruption episode occurs," writes NRF's @JonGoldDC. https://t.co/jmpqZMDn4K — National Retail Federation (@NRFnews) April 24, 2023
Meanwhile, the administration points to various quick-response approaches to recent supply chain concerns. The Department of Transportation has dedicated funds to facilitate last-mile freight transport. Last year, the department formed a voluntary forum through which freight sector stakeholders are able to share information on supply chain issues. The Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW) initiative aims to improve connectivity along commercial corridors.
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
May 10, 10 a.m.: House Highways and Transit Subcommittee meets for a hearing titled, “Freight Forward: Overcoming Supply Chain Challenges to Deliver for America.” Watch the hearing here.
May 10, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce Committee considers comprehensive freight rail legislation. Watch the hearing here.
May 11, 2 p.m.: The House Railroads Subcommittee examines supply chain strategies. Watch the hearing here.
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Legislation meant to tackle the trucking industry’s driver shortage recently was introduced in the House of Representatives.
Lawmakers on April 28 unveiled the Licensing Individual Commercial Exam-takers Now Safely and Efficiently (LICENSE) Act. Specific to licensing regulations under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the bill would make permanent two waivers issued by the agency. One would allow state driver’s licensing agencies to use certain third-party testers to administer CDL knowledge tests. The bill also would allow states to administer driving skills tests to certain out-of-state applicants.
“Worker and trucking shortages continue to be a persistent challenge for small businesses in central and northwestern Illinois, and the downstream effects are harming working families,” said Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), a bill co-sponsor. He serves on the Ways and Means Committee on tax policy.
Co-sponsoring the bill with LaHood are Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Troy Balderson (R-Ohio), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) and Josh Harder (D-Calif.). Endorsing the bill are various industry stakeholders, such as American Trucking Associations.
“The LICENSE Act is a prime example of how Congress can advance regulatory relief to address the driver shortage without compromising safety,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a statement. ATA recently determined the trucking workforce is short about 78,000 drivers.
The USDOT’s Build America Bureau recently announced it provided $327 million in low-interest loans to the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority. The funds are meant to help expedite infrastructure projects. “DOT’s $327 million in loans to support Sound Transit’s light and commuter rail lines supports an alternative to car travel on congested roadways and improve connections to jobs, health care and educational opportunities,” Deputy Transportation Secretary Polly Trottenberg explained in a statement May 5.
Miami and soccer infrastructure.
The Big Apple seeks to take a bite out of congestion.
The New York City Department of Transportation’s statement on congestion pricing. pic.twitter.com/zH0j7gHz8Z — NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) May 5, 2023
The Last Word
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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on May 5Image
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