Transportation News for May 11, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on May 11, 2015


POLITICO Morning Transportation for 5/11/2015


TIMELINE COMPROMISE EMERGES AS POLICY EXPIRATION LOOMS: Two workweeks away from expiration of transportation policy, lawmakers are beginning to give a little in negotiations over the length of the next patch they’ll undoubtedly be delivering instead of a long-term revamp. Our Heather Caygle delivered the scoop on Friday that Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Jim Inhofe is now prepared to support a Highway Trust Fund patch into December, rather than insisting on a two-month policy extension that would force lawmakers to reconsider both funding and authority again when the trust fund is expected to reach its low at the end of July. More from Pro:

Concern lingers: Inhofe’s concession does not come without worry, though, that an extension until year’s end will increase the chances Congress will punt with yet another patch when this next one’s up. “I think, in general, that an extension prolongs the pain,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Friday. “It just creates uncertainty, and one worries that at the end of the year, in the rush that usually follows coming towards the end of the year, that this issue will get buried for a few months and raise its head again at the end of the year and perhaps lead to future extensions.”
Money hungry: The Ways and Means Committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Sander Levin, noted Sunday that timeframe agreements only go so far without consensus on pay-fors. “There have to be more revenues — that is what transportation is really all about …” the congressman said on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program. “We need to get that straightened out.”

Industry watches: Onlookers in the infrastructure industry understand that another temporary extension is inevitable at this point, but they are keeping the pressure on nonetheless, warning lawmakers not to fail them again. “Twenty days. That is all that separates us from a highway shutdown unless Congress extends federal highway and other transit programs funding,” Jay Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, will remind those in the infrastructure industry during a speech this morning. “Yes, Congress will likely come up with temporary patchwork again. But we must insist on more.”

Foxx sides with Senate GOP: Speaking at odds with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s legislative demands, Foxx has said he thinks the Senate should “clear the decks on trade, get it done, and focus on the transportation bill.” Democrats have pointed to the impending transportation policy expiration as a reason the Senate should hold off on the trade legislation congressional liberals largely oppose and that the Obama administration is trying so hard to push forward in partnership with GOP leaders. On Foxx’s remarks:

SHUSTER’S DONOR CONNECTIONS RAISE QUESTIONS: POLITICO’s Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan have been following the money again, this time tracking campaign contributions that raise more questions about whether House T&I Chairman Bill Shuster is letting industry cash influence his policy work. The three explain that the chairman took in more than $33,000 from Virgin Islands donors last year, right after championing a provision that doubled the number of passengers allowed on uninspected commercial charter boats — a rule the territory has been lobbying to change for two decades. “Policymakers frequently raise money from individuals and corporations who have vested interests before Congress. But Shuster’s initiative in taking up such a parochial issue — the relaxing of the rule affected only the U.S. Virgin Islands’ situation — and the specificity with which donors connected their contributions to his work make this case unusual.” Read all about it:

THIS WEEK: It’s Infrastructure Week, and there will be no rest for Secretary Foxx, who begins with a twofer of speaking engagements in town today, heads to Tennessee on Tuesday to headline events in Knoxville and Memphis, jets out to the Bay Area for speeches in Silicon Valley on Wednesday, bops down to L.A. to talk at a bus maintenance and operations facility on Thursday, and wraps up in Iowa on Friday, before returning home to D.C. As the crow flies, that’s a more than 5,000-mile circuit around the country. You go, secretary!

Today — Foxx, Vice President Joe Biden and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka talk this morning about infrastructure investment at a forum hosted by Bloomberg Government. Catch the webcast at 9:15: The secretary then heads to Brookings this afternoon to speak about infrastructure financing alongside former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. After that panel, Rep. John Delaney and Alan Krueger take the stage:

MONDAY, MONDAY: Good morning and thanks for reading POLITICO’s Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on trains, planes, automobiles and ports.

Reach out: or @jascholtes.

“Hammer down, cruise around, rock this town in my Trans Am”

PRESCRIPTION PULSE: NOW LIVE FROM POLITICO PRO — We’ve created a team of reporters devoted exclusively to covering the policy and politics behind the complex and rapidly changing pharmaceutical sector. Prescription Pulse, our new weekly newsletter, delivers in-depth coverage of drug policy and regulation — key concerns of the industry that has the largest lobbying presence in D.C. Sign up now:


Tuesday — Out in Cleveland, airplane manufacturers and folks that run the nation’s regional airlines meet for a three-day conference to celebrate the Regional Airline Association’s 40th anniversary: Former DOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari, leaders from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and ex-EPA officials join this morning for a forum on changing the approval process for infrastructure projects: The McGraw Hill Financial Global Institute and the Bipartisan Policy Center host a series of discussions this afternoon about creating a lineup of state and local infrastructure projects that are ready for investment:

Wednesday — House Appropriations marks up its bill for providing fiscal 2016 transportation funding: House Oversight holds a hearing ( on airport safety, while House T&I questions STB’s chairwoman about railroad deregulation:

The Regional Airline Association’s convention continues in Cleveland, with a lunchtime speech by FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker: Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker holds a morning press conference at the Four Seasons in Georgetown. The Environmental and Energy Study Institute and the American Public Transportation Association host a Capitol Hill briefing on how transit investment affects national competitiveness:

Thursday — The House T&I subcommittee that handles Coast Guard issues holds a hearing on the service’s acquisitions process, with testimony from the Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for acquisitions and the a GAO director: Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott returns to Capitol Hill to speak on a panel about the correlation between infrastructure development and economic competitiveness:

The Regional Airline Association closes out its convention in Ohio: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds a meeting out in Arlington on minimum training requirements for entry-level drivers of commercial motor vehicles. And several think tanks join in hosting a Senate briefing on transportation funding options:

Friday — At a National Press Club luncheon, leaders of the nation’s three largest airlines reiterate their claims that the governments of Qatar and UAE are unfairly subsidizing their domestic airlines: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration meets for the second day to talk about training requirements for commercial vehicle drivers.

** A Message from Americans for Fair Skies: Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have subsidized their airlines with over $42 billion, an egregious violation of the Open Skies Agreements with the United States. These subsidies are hurting American jobs and affecting international trade policy. Want to know more? Visit **

BLUMENTHAL CASTS DOUBT ON NADEAU CONFIRMATION: He’s got President Barack Obama’s backing, but the sit-in leader of the Federal Highway Administration may have a tough time getting the Senate to take the “acting” prefix off his title. Obama announced Friday that he is nominating Greg Nadeau — who has been filling in as administrator since last July — to permanently take the post. That news was followed by a warning from Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who said “tough questions are head for this nominee — including the Administration’s commitment to reforming a deeply flawed and failing agency, and to protecting motorists from severe dangers like defective, deadly guardrails. His current, extensive role at FHWA raises questions about his independence and zeal for reform, and resistance to regulatory capture. I’ll seek to assure that Mr. Nadeau can be the strong, reforming leader that FHWA needs.” A refresher on lawmaker concerns about the agency’s safety testing on guardrails: Details on Nadeau’s nomination:

MAYORS UNIVERSALLY TRASH FEDERAL INFRASTRUCTURE EFFORTS: In the latest edition of POLITICO Magazine, Eva Rodriguez lays out the results of a survey of America’s mayors, explaining that “the cities’ CEO’s are disgusted with Capitol Hill” and that mayors were united in their belief that “the federal government and Washington officials weren’t doing enough to help their cities and their citizens and instead were ignoring key crises in infrastructure and education. Closer to home, most mayors reported that their greatest challenge involved fixing crumbling infrastructure — a problem they overwhelmingly believed should be a top priority in Washington. Their view that Washington needed to provide more funding for roads, bridges, and other infrastructure was bipartisan and comes as Congress is locked in a sustained battle over providing money for the nation’s Highway Trust Fund.”

A4A LAUNCHES AD CAMPAIGN TOUTING ‘PERSONAL CONNECTION’: Airlines for America is beginning a new ad campaign today showing “airline employees guiding families, vacationers and business people, connecting the moments that matter to the depth and breadth of the airline industry.” The group is running ads on TV and radio, as well as in print, using as the online hub for the campaign. “Our intent is to make the personal connection between the everyday air travel benefits we all enjoy and the magnitude of the industry that makes these moments possible,” Jean Medina, A4A’s senior vice president for communications, said in a written statement. “And it was critical to us that we feature airline employees who make this possible every day.” Check it out:


— Toyota and Mazda consider sharing fuel-efficient technologies. The Wall Street Journal:

— Airport security advances clash with privacy issues. The New York Times:

— Uber fund-raising points to $50 billion valuation. The New York Times:

— Detroit airport terminal evacuated for two hours after man made concerning comments to airline employees. Reuters:

— Mitsubishi recalls 130,000 cars for faulty defrosters and head lights. The Wall Street Journal:

THE COUNTDOWN: Highway and transit policy expires in 20 days. DOT appropriations run out and the FAA reauthorization expires in 142 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 548 days.

Tags: ,