Transportation News for June 15, 2015

  • by BPC Staff
  • on June 15, 2015

POLITICO Morning Transportation for 6/15/2015

By JENNIFER SCHOLTES, with help from Heather Caygle and Kathryn A. Wolfe

TSA NOMINEE GETS FINAL COMMITTEE NOD TODAY: The nomination of Peter Neffenger to run the TSA is expected to be sent on to the full Senate tonight after a quick off-the-floor markup. Our Heather Caygle explains that “lawmakers have been working quickly to move Neffenger’s nomination through the Senate pipeline amid damaging reports of dangerous security lapses at the agency” and that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s move tonight will clear the way for a confirmation vote as early as this week.
The Senate Commerce Committee already gave its stamp of approval for the nomination earlier this month. And Senate Homeland Security panel chairman, Ron Johnson, told MT last week that it’s obvious everyone on the dais is in favor of swift confirmation. “People are very impressed with his selection, so we want to move this as quickly as possible,” the chairman told us.

DHS IG AIMS TO RELEASE AIRPORT SECURITY REPORT IN AUGUST: The Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general’s office anticipates a release sometime in August of an unclassified summary of that disconcerting investigation into airport screening vulnerabilities — you know, the one that found that the TSA failed 67 out of 70 times to detect fake weapons and explosives during covert testing. A spokeswoman from the IG’s office filled MT in on the expected timeline but said the office doesn’t have “a set date yet.”

THIS WEEK — FOXX EMBARKS ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE MISSION: Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx begins jet-setting today, traveling throughout Europe and Africa to talk about the Obama administration’s strategy for expanding exports. The secretary begins in France, where he’ll showcase U.S. aviation technology at the Paris Air Show and meet with French transportation officials about expanding partnerships on NextGen technology and commercial drone systems.

Traveling on to Sub-Saharan Africa, Foxx will promote U.S. companies in the transportation, energy and agriculture equipment sectors. In Ghana, he’ll meet with government officials about the Safe Skies for Africa program that helps African countries with technical assistance, training courses and workshops on travel safety. From there, he will lead a trade mission targeting Mozambique, South Africa and Kenya to discuss potential partnerships and commercial transportation opportunities.

Meanwhile, back in D.C.: The agenda is dominated by Highway Trust Fund scheming and TSA talks, with hearings in both chambers about how to come up with long-term cash flow to keep the trust fund afloat, and discussions both on and off the Hill on how to make the TSA more effective.

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

Reach out: or @jascholtes.

“You were the car I crashed. Now you’re barely alive.” H/t Maggie Chan


Monday — The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee holds an off-the-floor markup to approve the nomination of Peter Neffenger to be TSA administrator:

Tuesday — The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Transportation Security holds a hearing ( to talk about how TSA can get better at vetting aviation workers, following an inspector general report ( this month showing that the agency allowed 73 people to work in the aviation industry despite terrorism ties flagged by the Department of Homeland Security. And for more TSA debate, The Heritage Foundation hosts a forum on possible ways to overhaul the agency, with former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security Stewart Verdery and former DHS adviser Ha Nguyen:

The Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee marks up its fiscal 2016 spending bill for DHS. The House T&I Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation hears from the Coast Guard’s operations head and SOUTHCOM’s director of operations about efforts to stop drug smuggling by sea: A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee holds a hearing on competition in international shipping:

The National Air Transportation Association kicks off its three-day aviation business conference with discussions about prospects for FAA reauthorization, meetings with lawmakers and a discussion about insider threats with the TSA’s Ron Phifer:

Wednesday — House Ways and Means meets to talk over ideas for dealing with the Highway Trust Fund’s continual funding shortfall: House Oversight and Government Reform holds a hearing on drones and their role in commerce:

The National Air Transportation Association delves into Day Two of its three-day conference, with speeches by FAA officials about challenges in managing airport grants, aircraft maintenance and upcoming agency actions: TRUSTe hosts its Internet of Things Privacy Summit out in Silicon Valley, with a breakout session on auto industry self-regulation: The Transportation Intermediaries Association begins a two-day policy forum:

FedScoop holds a conference with federal chief information officers including DOT CIO Richard McKinney: And the International Trade Administration holds a teleconference meeting of the Travel and Tourism Advisory Board to deliberate on recommendations for the international arrivals process.

Thursday — Senate Finance holds a hearing on finding a long-haul solution for filling the Highway Trust Fund, with testimony from former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, an econ expert from CBO and a fellow from the conservative Heritage Foundation: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee presses Janet McCabe, the EPA’s acting head of the Office of Air and Radiation, about the agency’s management of the Renewable Fuel Standard program:

The Transportation Intermediaries Association closes out its two-day policy forum, while the National Air Transportation Association wraps up its aviation business conference:

RAIL GROUP FILES CRUDE-TRANSPORT APPEAL: DOT fielded an appeal Friday from the Association of American Railroads, which wants the department to revamp its crude-by-rail rules to remove the ECP brake mandate, require a thermal blanket as part of new tank car safety design standards and stop shippers from using tank cars that don’t meet specifications. “It is the AAR’s position the rule, while a good start, does not sufficiently advance safety and fails to fully address ongoing concerns of the freight rail industry and the general public,” Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for the group, said in a written statement.

PELOSI TIES HTF MOVEMENT TO TRADE DEAL CHANCES: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic cronies last week that “prospects for passage” of President Barack Obama’s trade agenda “will greatly increase with the passage of a robust highway bill.” Pelosi’s dear colleague letter came amid her admission on Friday that she would not support the piece of the package known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, just before that proposal tanked 126-302. The letter: More from Pro:

TAXI INDUSTRY TOUTS DeFAZIO LETTER ON UBER BACKGROUND CHECKS: Melwood Global, the firm that’s helping the taxi industry in its fight against ride-hailing companies like Uber, is trying to draw attention to a letter Rep. Peter DeFazio sent this month urging Uber to conduct fingerprint-based background checks of its drivers. “Fingerprint-based background checks are critical to ensuring that unscrupulous individuals cannot pass a background check simply by lying about their identities,” DeFazio wrote in a letter ( to Uber’s CEO.

SCHUMER ATTACKS PROPOSAL TO CHANGE CARRY-ON RULES: Congress’ king of consumer issues is unsurprisingly speaking out against airlines’ efforts to shrink standards for carry-on luggage size. “We want to blow the whistle on this before it happens,” Schumer told The Associated Press over the weekend. “Enough already! They charge a fee for peanuts, for leg room, for just about anything.” More from AP:


— Takata air bag cited in Louisiana death. The Wall Street Journal:

— European Games organizers improve transport systems following accident. Reuters:

— Uber reportedly nears 1 million rides a day in China. LA Times:

— Four Muslims seek damages for time on no-fly list. AP:

— The battle between Uber, Lyft and taxis has moved to airports. The Washington Post:

— European air-safety chief spreads wings. The Wall Street Journal:

— Searching for Earhart is his life’s quest, despite doubters. AP:

— The $390,000 Ferrari you can take to Ikea. Bloomberg Business:

— Car dealers aim to curb online rivals. The Wall Street Journal:

— Making way for bicycles in a sprawling suburb where cars have always ruled. The Washington Post:

— Suspicion among the reactions to airline carry-on bag guidelines. LA Times:

THE COUNTDOWN: Highway and transit policy expires in 47 days. DOT appropriations run out and the FAA reauthorization expires in 108 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 514 days.

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