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In this Issue:

The State of Transportation
To help kick off the second session of the 118th Congress, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure had a full committee hearing to discuss the current state of transportation infrastructure in the United States. A focus of the hearing was the ongoing supply chain challenges, specifically addressing the vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic and dealing with the supply chain issues caused by today’s global conflicts.

Additional information about this full committee hearing is available here.

(Rep. Burlison at the hearing on the state of transportation.) 

Members’ Day
In December of last year, the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment began holding hearings in preparation for the next Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Since 2014, Congress has passed a bipartisan WRDA every two years to authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works projects to improve the nation’s ports and harbors, the inland waterway navigation network, flood and storm protection, and other water resources infrastructure.

On January 11th, the Subcommittee held its final hearing on WRDA 2024, a Members’ Day hearing where Members of the House of Representatives had the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee on their WRDA priorities. More than 30 House Members testified before the Subcommittee on their policy recommendations for consideration in this year’s bill.

More information about the Water Resources Development Act of 2024 is available here.

Additional information about the hearing entitled “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Members’ Day Hearing” is available here.

Railroad Grade Crossing Elimination and Safety
On January 18th, the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials held a hearing entitled, “Oversight and Examination of Railroad Grade Crossing Elimination and Safety,” which focused on the nearly 212,000 highway-rail grade crossings in the United States.

In 2022, there were over 2,000 accidents at railroad grade crossings. In his opening statement Subcommittee Chairman Troy Nehls (R-TX) said that these “accidents and fatalities are entirely preventable.”

At the hearing, Members asked the witnesses about the Railroad Crossing Elimination Grant Program included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which is meant to help states and communities with grade crossing elimination and safety, and how such existing programs can be improved to ensure safety at railroad grade crossings.

More information about the hearing is available here.

Menace on the Red Sea: Securing Shipping Against Threats in the Red Sea

(Rep. Dusty Johnson questions witnesses about threats in the Red Sea.)
Due to its strategic location connecting Europe and Asia through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea is a critical shipping corridor for maritime transportation and commerce. The Red Sea accounts for nearly twenty percent of container traffic and a significant portion of oil and liquified natural gas shipments.

Over the last several months, the Houthis, an Iranian-backed separatist group based in Yemen, have sought to disrupt global commerce by increasing attacks against military and civilian vessels transiting the Red Sea.

The Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing entitled “Menace on the Red Sea: Securing Shipping Against Threats in the Red Sea,” to examine the threats and emerging challenges to maritime commerce in and around the Red Sea. In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Webster (R-FL) explained the importance of securing this valuable shipping corridor saying, “we saw firsthand during the pandemic what a significant supply chain crisis can do to the global economy, and we must not let it happen again.”

Additional information about the hearing is available here.

Implementation of Buy America Provisions
On February 18th, the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit held a hearing to examine the Biden Administration’s slow and confusing implementation of Buy America provisions, including provisions included in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

(Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Chairman Rick Crawford at the February 18th hearing.)
Buy America provisions date back to the Buy American Act of 1933, which was the first federal law to require domestic sourcing preferences for items purchased with federal funds.

Subcommittee Chairman Rick Crawford (R-AR) said in his opening statement, “Buy America policy supports and strengthens our domestic manufacturing economy, which is crucial for both our national prosperity and security.”

More information about the hearing is available here

On January 31st, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted to approve a slate of measures to reform and restore permitting processes under the Clean Water Act, ensure rail transportation access for people with disabilities, and improve Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) consideration of wildfire mitigation projects.
The Committee approved H.R. 7023, Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act, which was introduced by Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman David Rouzer (R-NC) and comprised of five standalone bills previously introduced in the House that clarify permitting reviews under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The five bills included in H.R. 7023 are:
  • Nationwide Permitting Improvement Act (H.R. 7023) – introduced by Chairman Rouzer, this bill streamlines the Nationwide Permit (NWP) process and maintains certainty that regulated entities involved in improving U.S. energy production, transportation infrastructure, and other commercial activities have had for years.
  • Reducing Permitting Uncertainty Act (H.R. 7026) – introduced by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN), this bill prevents the EPA from vetoing a Clean Water Act Section 404 dredge and fill permit before a permit application has been filed or after a permit has already been issued by the Corps. 
  • Water Quality Criteria Development and Transparency Act (H.R. 7021) – introduced by Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), this bill establishes a more transparent procedure for the development of water quality criteria by the EPA often used for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which would provide for additional public participation and limited judicial review.
  • Judicial Review Timeline Clarity Act (H.R. 7008) – introduced by Rep. Eric Burlison (R-MO), this bill sets reasonable judicial review timelines for Clean Water Act Section 404 dredge and fill permits to help ensure reliable and efficient project authorizations, which will help spur commercial activity.
  • Confidence in Clean Water Permits Act (H.R. 7013) – introduced by Rep. John Duarte (R-CA), this bill ensures that NPDES permit writers do their job in a manner that permittees can rely on, limits opportunities for frivolous lawsuits, and protects permit holders that are acting in good faith, following the specific requirements in their permits in accordance with decades-old EPA policy.

Additionally, the Committee approved H.R. 6248, the Think Differently Transportation Act, introduced by Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY). Rep. Molinaro’s bill addresses Amtrak’s ongoing non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and improves rail transportation access for people with disabilities.

(Rep. Molinaro speaks about his bill, the Think Differently Transportation Act, at the markup.)
Lastly, members voted to approve the bipartisan H.R. 7070, the Wildfire Response Improvement Act, on which Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) is the lead Republican. This legislation requires the FEMA Administrator to more accurately assess wildfire related mitigation projects to ensure the most effective mitigation projects are considered to save lives and reduce future costs of disasters.

More information about the January 31st markup is available here.

On January 6th, the Subcommittee on Aviation held a hearing in which members heard from Michael Whitaker, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The hearing focused on the challenges facing the FAA and the aerospace industry, the ongoing work of the agency, and the need for a long-term comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill. This was the Administrator’s first appearance before the Committee since being confirmed by the U.S. Senate in October.

During the hearing, Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Garrett Graves emphasized the urgency of getting a comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill signed into law, especially considering rising challenges, the FAA’s organizational deficiencies, and the critical need to ensure the U.S. remains the gold standard in aviation safety.  In his opening statement, Rep. Graves said, “Now more than ever, American aviation and FAA needs bold direction from Congress.  We cannot afford business as usual or half measures.”

In July 2023, the House of Representatives passed the T&I Committee’s bipartisan, five-year FAA bill, the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act (H.R. 3935).  And on February 8th, two days after the FAA Administrator appeared before the House Aviation Subcommittee for this hearing, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved their bill to reauthorize the FAA. Discussions on the differences between the two bills are underway.

(Rep. Anthony D’Esposito questions Administrator Whitaker about the use of airports as housing for undocumented immigrants.)
Additionally, members used the hearing as a chance to get answers to previously posed questions. For example, Rep. D’ Esposito (R-NY) asked Administrator Whitaker about the Biden Administration’s policy of allowing airports to be used to house illegal migrants.  In November 2023, D’Esposito led a group of 70 Members in sending a letter to Transportation Secretary Buttigieg in opposition to the use of airports as temporary shelters for illegal immigrants.  The Department of Transportation has yet to provide a response to the Members’ concerns, but at the hearing, Administrator Whitaker did commit to ensuring a response from the Administration.

Additional information about this Subcommittee hearing is available here.


(Rep. Celeste Maloy)
Rep. Celeste Maloy is a first-term Congresswoman representing Utah’s 2nd district. She joined the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in early December, shortly after being sworn in to the House of Representatives. Upon joining T&I, Rep. Maloy said, “I’m excited to represent Utah in this committee as we have some of the fastest growing areas in the nation, which means we need to be paying attention to transportation and infrastructure.”  She is the second Utahn to join T&I this Congress, and she expressed eagerness to work alongside her colleague, Rep. Burgess Owens, to improve their state’s infrastructure.

She also serves on the House Committee on Small Business, the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus, and is the Vice Chair of the Colorado River Caucus.

(Rep. Doug LaMalfa)
Rep. Doug LaMalfa is a six-term Congressman representing California’s 1st district. Rep. LaMalfa is the Republican lead on H.R. 7070, the Wildfire Improvement Act, which was approved by the Committee during the January 31st markup. The bill requires the FEMA Administrator to assess wildfire-related mitigation projects more accurately to ensure the most effective mitigation projects are considered to save lives and reduce future costs of disasters. Currently, federal support for wildfires ends as soon as the fire is extinguished, something Rep. LaMalfa says negatively impacts his district: “Rural counties in my district in Northern California have struggled through the recovery process, all while trying to mitigate damage from post-fire property damage from mudslides and flooding.” This legislation will help those in his district and around the country impacted by wildfires navigate the recovery process.

In addition to serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. LaMalfa is also a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Agriculture.

Reuters: US lawmakers ask if FAA found persistent Boeing quality control lapses

Transport Topics: Congress members introduce resolution to halt FHWA’s greenhouse gas  performance measures

Progressive Railroading: House panel hearing: Supply chain reps describe economic impact of Houthi attacks on commercial shipping

Rep. Mike Collins and Sen. Marco Rubio for The Washington Times: Pro-Hamas protests blocking federal highways are not peaceful assembly

UPI: Industry leaders address shortfalls of Build America, Buy America provisions

Rep. Scott Perry on Fox Business: “That’s not acceptable to the American flying public.”

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