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The politics of the moment on Capitol Hill, marked by the impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump, have disturbed the once bipartisan atmosphere of the transportation panel in the U.S. House of Representatives, according to Republicans on that committee.
In a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sent before the Thanksgiving recess, the top Republicans on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee expressed concern that “partisan and political battles” are eclipsing “what we were sent to Washington to do — work to improve the nation’s infrastructure.”
Missouri Republican Rep. Sam Graves, the panel’s ranking member, and the ranking Republicans on the subcommittees, argued that passage of major legislation over the years has been facilitated by collaboration regardless of party affiliation. And going forward, a multiyear highway reauthorization measure would go far thanks to bipartisan backing. Take, for instance, the surface transportation panel in the Senate, which advanced its highway reauthorization in July with bipartisan support.
“Partnership — not partisanship — is what leads to achieving our shared goal of improving America’s infrastructure,” the T&I Republicans wrote Nov. 26. “It’s the approach necessary to tackle the important work that still lies before us this Congress, including a vital surface transportation reauthorization bill, the next Water Resources Development Act and other legislation that will address our nation’s infrastructure needs.”
The GOP note was prompted by a recent markup of a pipelines policy measure, which they took to be partisan.
Responding to the letter, Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio (D), chairman of the committee, said he welcomed Graves’ policy notes on infrastructure. As he put it, “I would remind the ranking member that it was a tantrum by President Trump during a meeting with congressional leaders that slowed down bipartisan progress on infrastructure. Despite this setback, the committee continues to work on advancing bipartisan solutions to addressing problems associated with our country’s crumbling infrastructure, and I look forward to receiving the ranking member’s input.”
DeFazio added: “And for those keeping count, more than 90% of the bills considered by this committee have been bipartisan.”
The Week Ahead (all times Eastern)
Dec. 5, 10 a.m.: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Highways and Transit Subcommittee hosts a hearing titled, “Where’s My Stuff? Examining the Economic, Environmental, and Societal Impacts of Freight Transportation.” Industry executives are expected to share viewpoints with lawmakers on last-mile delivery innovations, and the potential economic benefits that could be realized from infrastructure improvements. House and Senate are working on highway policy reauthorizations that will address freight concerns.
Dec. 3, 3 p.m.: The Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee meets to examine the nomination of Robert Feitel to become inspector general of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Dec. 4, 8 a.m.: The Atlantic hosts its annual summit on infrastructure and transportation.
Dec. 5, 10 a.m.: The Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet meets for a hearing titled, “The Evolution of Next-Generation Technologies: Implementing MOBILE NOW.” Witnesses include Paul TenHaken, mayor of Sioux Falls, S.D.; Jonathan Adelstein, CEO at Wireless Infrastructure Association; Scott Bergmann, senior vice president of Regulatory Affairs at CTIA—The Wireless Association; Mary Brown, senior director, Technology and Spectrum Policy at Cisco; and Sarah Morris, director at Open Technology Institute at New America.
The leadership in the House has yet to unveil a timeline for when to consider comprehensive highway policy legislation, and the congressional tax-writing committees have not scheduled hearings to address the Highway Trust Fund’s looming insolvency.
In Case You Missed It
If intelligent cars are on the way, can our current infrastructure accommodate them, asks Reason.
If you’ve been living under a rock or are way, way off the grid, you probably missed Michael Bloomberg’s national TV campaign announcing his candidacy to become the country’s next president.
The former New York City mayor championed walkability and transit during his tenure in the Big Apple. The multibillionaire touts his stances on climate change and gun control.
We await his in-depth plan for modernizing the country’s transportation system.
Concern of a shutdown is starting to spread, sources at various federal agencies told Transport Topics. Temporary funding authority for the federal government expires Dec. 20.
Presidential aspirants expound on resilient infrastructure.
A war on Christmas no more.
“The Spirit of America” is shining in the @WhiteHouse! I am delighted to share this beautiful exhibit of patriotism for all to see, and excited for everyone to experience the beauty of the #Christmas season! pic.twitter.com/qGxxl9qBrd— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) December 2, 2019
The Last Word
What you hear from Donald J. Trump is the blunt talk of a Manhattan businessman. He says what he means, he means what he says.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) on “This Week” on Dec. 1.
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