Transportation News for February 2, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on February 2, 2015


Politico  Morning Transportation: Obama goes big and bold with transpo proposal — NHTSA recalling more cars with airbag problems — Foxx joins up with Google to introduce 30-year plan

By Heather Caygle, with help from Kevin Robillard

OBAMA BUDGET GOES BIG, BOLD ON TRANSPO: President Barack Obama will pitch a multi-year, $478 billion transportation bill in his annual budget proposal today. The president’s plan is bigger and bolder than the transportation bill the administration unveiled last year and has been pushing ever since. This new plan is longer in duration, provides more funding for infrastructure and the White House explicitly outlines how to pay for it – by implementing a mandatory tax on companies’ overseas earnings.

Details on the plan: Kelsey Snell and Kim Dixon have the story – The president’s plan includes “a mandatory 14 percent tax on corporate profits now stashed abroad to fix roads, bridges and other infrastructure, according to a White House document. Obama will propose tapping taxes on the $2 trillion in profits sitting outside the U.S. to ‘to make critical new investments in our roads, bridges, transit systems and freight networks as part of a $478 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization,’ according to a summary of the plan.”

Channeling Camp: “The White House will likely hype the fact that the transition tax echoes one proposed last year by then-House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, who proposed an 8.75 percent mandatory ‘toll’ tax on profits coming back to the United States. Camp’s plan fell flat, and even his fellow Republicans didn’t embrace it. The latest White House offer could be an opening position for negotiating a full plan with Republicans in Congress.” Read more:

How it’s different from last year: This year’s proposal would boost transportation spending by $176 billion and authorize programs for six years. Last year’s Grow America Act provided $302 billion for highway, transit and rail programs over four years. While testifying on Capitol Hill last week, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx hinted at the changes, saying this year’s plan would be a “new and improved version.’

So, what’s next? The president’s plan is just one of many ideas in the mix that relies on revenue from repatriation to fund highway and transit programs for several years. But, even with the repatriation-for-transportation idea receiving the backing of the White House and congressional leadership, there are a lot of nitty-gritty details that would have to be worked out first. And that’s unlikely to happen before the Highway Trust Fund is set to run out of money around the end of May.

Differences, similarities: Last week, Sens. Rand Paul and Barbara Boxer proposed a bill that would encourage companies to bring back profits held overseas at a low tax rate and then funnel that tax revenue into the Highway Trust Fund ( Compared to Obama’s budget, the Paul-Boxer plan uses a lower rate, is a standalone proposal that doesn’t involve a corporate tax rewrite and allows companies to choose whether to bring overseas earnings back to the U.S., unlike the mandatory levy in the president’s plan.

The president’s proposal is closer to Rep. John Delaney’s bill. The rates are different – companies would be taxed at a lower rate in the Delaney bill – but both plans have a mandatory tax, shore up the Highway Trust Fund for six years and are couched in a broader overhaul. “Unlike a voluntary repatriation holiday, which the President opposes and which would lose revenue, the President’s proposed transition tax is a one-time, mandatory tax on previously untaxed foreign earnings, regardless of whether the earnings are repatriated,” according to a White House summary.

STAY TUNED FOR MORE: Pros get full coverage of how the president’s budget impacts all things planes, trains, highways, transit and ports around lunchtime when the White House plan is officially rolled out. In the meantime, here’s a refresher on last year’s budget:

IT’S MONDAY, FUNDAY. Good morning and thanks for reading POLITICO’s Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on trains, planes, automobiles and ports. Today is the big day – no, not budget day. Your host is talking about Groundhog Day. Any Bill Murray fans out there? (

Let’s chat! Send scoops, tips, complaints and transpo-related song lyrics to or send a tweet: @heatherscope. Please don’t forget to follow @Morning_Transpo and @POLITICOPro.

“I am driving up 85 in the kind of morning that lasts all afternoon…” (h/t Brandon Templin)

NHTSA RECALLS TWO MILLION CARS – AGAIN: More than two million previously-recalled vehicles will need to be recalled again because the airbags could inadvertently deploy, NHTSA said over the weekend. The cars were recalled earlier because airbags would deploy even if there was no crash. While the earlier fix significantly lessened the chance of an inadvertent deployment, it did not eliminate the problem, the safety agency said. About 1 million Toyota and Honda vehicles covered by this recall are also subject to one involving defective, exploding Takata airbags, a “double problem” for consumers, said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. ‘It’s their job to come up with the correct remedy,’ Rosekind said of manufacturers. ‘It’s our job to remain vigilant.’ Kevin has more:

Hill reaction: Sens. Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal, perhaps NHTSA’s toughest Capitol Hill critics, applauded the agency’s swift recall action but said it’s time for safety officials to step up in policing other airbag defects. “We remain concerned that for the more than 12 million car owners who are driving vehicles with defective Takata airbags. There is a pressing need for strong action to ensure that the necessary parts are manufactured more quickly and that automakers are subject to enforceable, nationwide recalls for all the impacted vehicles,” the duo said in a statement.

HAPPENING TODAY: It’s not just budget day around these parts. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will join Google Chairman Eric Schmidt at the company’s San Francisco campus for a virtual fireside chat to unveil a draft of DOT’s long-hyped 30-year plan. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. East Coast time so jump into your favorite jammies, make a big cup of hot chocolate and tune in here:

AND TOMORROW: LAWMAKERS SCRUTINIZE TSA BREACHES – The House Homeland Security Committee will hold a Tuesday hearing on recent breaches by gun-carrying airline employees who used their access to smuggle firearms throughout the country. In December, a Delta airlines employee in Atlanta was charged for his role in a scheme to smuggle guns north through LaGuardia Airport in New York and sell them in Brooklyn. TSA acting Deputy Administrator Mark Hatfield and FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Gary Perdue will testify on the hearing’s first panel.

WINDOW CLOSES ON GM VICTIM FUND: General Motor’s victim compensation fund stopped accepting injury and death claims related to the company’s faulty ignition switches over the weekend. But it will be a while before the fund’s managers finish sifting through and paying out claims. More from the Wall Street Journal: “The cost of General Motors Co.’s victims-compensation fund isn’t expected to exceed the $400 million to $600 million the auto maker set aside to pay those killed or injured on account of faulty ignition switches, but it will take weeks for the fund to sort through a late rush of claims filed before the deadline passed this weekend. …Payments span $20,000 to $1 million, but the final tab won’t be disclosed until every claim has been reviewed.” Full story:

FIRST LOOK: TRUCKING CRASHES DOWN- Fatal truck-related crashes were down 1.6 percent in 2013 compared to the previous year, according to an American Trucking Associations analysis released today. Accounting for 2013, the fatality rate has fallen nearly 40 percent over the last decade, ATA said. “The trucking industry’s efforts to improve safety on our highways are showing results,” said ATA President Bill Graves.


-A full rundown of all those car ads during last night’s Super Bowl. Automotive News:

-What do Delta, Turkish Airlines and United have in common with Beyonce? They all have signature scents. The Wall Street Journal:

-Metro hurries to replace certain power cables throughout rail network after smoke incident (; Sons of the woman killed in the accident sue the transit agency for $50 million. The Washington Post:

-Former Sen. Mark Begich has a new gig – aviation consulting. Alaska Dispatch News: (h/t Alex Guillen)

-AirAsia captain left his seat before the plane crashed. Reuters:

-Secret video shows Tesla testing its new SUV on dirt road in California. Business Insider:

-How to use brainwaves to make a new bike map for NYC. Autopia:

-D’oh! Fake cop pulls over real cop, gets caught. Bummer, dude.

THE COUNTDOWN: Highway and transit policy expires in 118 days and DOT appropriations run out in 240 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 240 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 645 days.

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