Transportation Stakeholders Renew Calls for Congressional Action
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Passage of a multiyear highway policy bill that promotes safety programs and devotes greater emphasis on severe-weather infrastructure resilience are among the priorities for the group representing the nation’s state departments of transportation.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials is among stakeholders urging congressional leaders to clear for President Joe Biden measures that would update surface transportation policies, as well as a variety of infrastructure programs ranging from freight and passenger rail to equity and rural broadband.
Biden and a bipartisan group of senators said they reached an agreement on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure policy framework.
“America’s state departments of transportation look forward to playing a leading role with the administration and Congress on transportation infrastructure policies, as part of the surface transportation reauthorization process or as part of separate legislation,” the group stated this month in a document titled, “AASHTO Policy Recommendations on Key Surface Transportation Priorities.”
“Specific programs, initiatives or concepts related to the elimination of fatalities and serious injuries can help agencies organize and bolster their safety efforts and provide technical and policy support, as long as states have the option of participating in such programs and the programs do not prescribe specific methods and countermeasures that may not be appropriate in all states, contexts or situations,” the group continued.
Besides AASHTO, a coalition of about two dozen infrastructure-funding proponents is urging federal lawmakers to approve comprehensive legislation this year. Led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the coalition insists such legislation would further facilitate access to freight and passenger corridors.
“Enacting significant infrastructure legislation, including investments in our roads, bridges, ports, airports, transit, rail, water and energy infrastructure, access to broadband, and more, is critical to our nation and will create middle-class family-sustaining jobs,” according to the Coalition for Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment, which includes American Trucking Associations, the Association of American Railroads, and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers.
Separately, advocacy firm Transportation for America is pressing for action on climate change. Beth Osborne, the group’s director, told a House panel last month: “We can make a huge dent in our transportation emissions through a marked shift towards zero-emission vehicles.
“That means moving towards zero-emission, electric vehicles for our public transit fleets, our freight carriers, and incentivizing the consumer shift towards zero-emission vehicles.”
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
July 12, 5 p.m.: The House transportation funding subcommittee considers fiscal 2021 legislation. (Story)
July 13-14: The American Road and Transportation Builders Association hosts the eighth Annual National Workshop for State and Local Transportation Advocates.
July 15, 2:30 p.m.: The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis meets for a hearing titled, “Advancing Environmental Justice Through Climate Action.”
A plan with bipartisan backing would affect energy infrastructure programs, per Forbes.
An executive order President Biden signed July 9 aims to improve commerce by, among other things, convening a working group at the U.S. Department of Transportation tasked with evaluating commercial aviation programs, consumer protections and rules at the Federal Aviation Administration. To further competition in the rail industry, the order encourages the Surface Transportation Board to “consider rulemakings pertaining to any other relevant matter of competitive access, including bottleneck rates, interchange commitments.”
“Over time, we’ve lost the fundamental American idea that true capitalism depends on fair and open competition,” Biden said. “We have to get back to an economy that grows from the bottom up and the middle out.”
Summer agenda update: Congressional Democratic leaders are planning to schedule debate in the U.S. Senate on an infrastructure package.
Several members of the U.S. House put their focus on building bridges, not walls.
One more #ThisTown moment.
How refreshing to encounter a congressional press staffer who not only picks up the phone, but answers two simple factual questions on the record without asking they be emailed and then responding three hours later. #opengov — Sean Reilly (@SeanatGreenwire) July 8, 2021
The Last Word
Our hearts are heavy as we bid farewell to Donald Rumsfeld. In his 88 years on Earth, he lived the American dream to the fullest.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on June 30
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