Politico Morning Transportation
October 23, 2013
  • Share
  • WRRDA UP: With the government reopened and the debt ceiling lifted – for now, at least – the House can finally get around to something that’s been ready for a while: a long-awaited water resources bill. 24 amendments are in order under a rule issued Tuesday evening: 10 Republican, 10 Democratic and four bipartisan. There’s a few notable ones on the list: Rep. Kerry Bentivolio’s amendment to boost the bill’s list of deauthorized projects from $12 billion to $35 billion and a proposal from five Democrats to delay WRRDA’s provisions on environmental “streamlining” – yes, the quotes are in the summary – until the project backlog shrinks to $20 billion. See the full list of amendments in the rule: http://1.usa.gov/16259LT

    Next steps: With the bill set to sail in the lower chamber, attention will soon shift to the House-Senate conference. There are plenty of policy differences to be worked out, but both chambers have made the bill’s passage a priority this year. Much like the hard-fought aviation and highway laws that came after years of stopgaps, the water bill has been a long time coming but the congressional stars seem to be aligning for its enactment.

    Not giving up: Rep. Janice Hahn’s amendment to ensure that harbor taxes get fully spent wasn’t ruled in order, but she’s not giving up the fight. The Californian told MT that she’s planning to talk to Sen. Patty Murray about “seeing what we could get in the final version that would really be a huge step forward for ports.”

    Conservative coalition: Ten conservative groups – including Heritage Action for America, FreedomWorks and Taxpayers for Common Sense – wrote House members urging them to vote against the bill because it doesn’t do enough to cut the Army Corps of Engineers’ project backlog, has “no sidebars” on a new authorization system and sets up spending that would “inevitably cannibalize funding from other Corps mission areas.” The groups also hit the bill for boosting the federal share for the cost of the Olmsted Locks and Dam, the mega-project that drew conservative ire against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell after last week’s debt and spending law hiked the project’s authorization. Letter: http://bit.ly/1icesLJ

    Rand’s corner: Conservative hero Sen. Rand Paul said the Olmsted project is a “boondoggle” but should be finished so all the expense put in so far isn’t wasted. “It’s one of these things where we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t – no pun intended,” he said this week in Kentucky. “Because we’ve gotten halfway into this thing, and it’s extraordinarily expensive, and it’s a boondoggle, but we can’t stop, because we need the dam.” WKMS: http://bit.ly/H14wsD

    WRRDA WEDNESDAY. Thanks for reading POLITICO’s Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on trains, planes, automobiles and ports, where your host is having a hard time believing it’s really been exactly 20 years since one of the most exciting baseball moments ever – Joe Carter’s walk-off home run to win the second straight World Series title for the Toronto Blue Jays. The famous call (http://bit.ly/1fTmPPx): “Touch ’em all, Joe, you’ll never hit a bigger home run in your life.” Send in your game-winning moments, news, tips and more at asnider@politico.com . And follow me on Twitter: @AdamKSnider.

    “Walkin’ down Dayglow Vista Road …” http://bit.ly/151oyyk

    PRO-MERGER MAYORS: A group of big-city mayors who represent hub airports for American Airlines and US Airways wants the DOJ to drop its suit against the proposed merger. It’s the latest in a drumbeat of calls from Democratic allies for the administration to abandon its quest to block the merger, but this one may be a little more personal: The airlines’ champions include former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who is now the mayor of Chicago, and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who has ties to both President Barack Obama and AG Eric Holder. In a letter (http://politico.pro/1icRhkf ) to Holder obtained by Kathryn, the seven mayors say the merger will economically benefit their cities and their constituents. Kathryn’s story has the scoop: http://politico.pro/1cWrRXI

    KEEP ON TRUCKING: The trucking industry has launched a new image campaign that will blossom into a multi-year, multi-million dollar effort to educate the public and Congress about various industry concerns. The Trucking Moves America Forward coalition (http://bit.ly/18jiyju ) is designed to be a one-stop shop for all trucking industry issues instead of having several narrow issue-based campaigns. The group will roll out print, radio, TV and digital ads in March and aims to spend $1 million a year for the next five years, according to a source involved in planning the effort. “This effort will tell the story of the trucking industry and what it means for America,” the source told MT. The powerhouse American Trucking Associations is part of the campaign, but the membership list (http://bit.ly/19YNlhT ) is rounded out by all parts of the industry like truck-makers, carriers, suppliers and even those that keep truck engines running, like Castrol. D.C. firm Story Partners (http://bit.ly/H8iWYe) will manage the campaign.

    Not the only new website in town: The American Waterways Operators also has a new website. Give it a look: http://bit.ly/1fTpdWv

    3407 FAMILIES CONTINUE LOBBYING FOR TRAINING RULE: The friends and families of those who died on the 2009 Colgan Air crash say the FAA has blown past the Oct. 21 deadline for issuing a rule to improve pilot training standards. The government shutdown is the culprit – and now the groups want the rule by Nov. 6, a delay that’s as long as the shutdown lasted. “Obviously the government shutdown offers a ready-made excuse to let the deadline slide and kick the can down the road like has been happening on this rule since it was first initiated back in 1999, and we are sure that the airlines and their lobbyists are celebrating this reprieve somewhere on K Street,” said Scott Maurer, who lost his 30-year-old daughter Lorin in the crash. The FAA said in a statement that, before the shutdown, it planned to put out the rule in October but now is “assessing the shutdown’s impact on finalizing the rule.”

    ** The U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry propels the nation’s economy forward by safely and efficiently transporting vast amounts of essential commodities such as agricultural products, coal, and petroleum for domestic use and export across the world. Learn about this dynamic industry by visiting http://www.americanwaterways.com/. **

    GET UP ON THE GAS TAX: The Federal Highway Administration has put out a new round of stats on the Highway Trust Fund. The most intriguing (to MT, at least) is a chart (http://1.usa.gov/1eH5TbP ) that compares how much each state contributes to the fund and how much it gets back from Congress – including a cumulative figure that charts each state’s ratio of return since July 1, 1956, when the HTF was created and the gas tax was 3 cents a gallon. Alaska easily has the top spot, getting back more than six times what it contributes since 1956. But second place might surprise you – the District of Columbia has brought in more than four and a half times what it’s given over the last 57 years, thanks largely to how few area drivers actually buy gas within District lines. D.C. even beat Alaska last year, taking in ten times as much as it sent to the fund. See that and many more fun charts on the FHWA page: http://1.usa.gov/HdrZrp

    NOW LIVE: PRO TRADE – DON’T MISS OUT!: Pro Trade, the newest Pro policy area is now live! Pro Trade offers subscribers access to high-impact, high-velocity coverage of trade with real-time developments and analysis and an exclusive early edition of the Morning Trade newsletter- giving you the edge you need to do your job. Interested? Email info@politicopro.com or call (703) 341-4600.


    – Salon’s take on Shuster challenger Art Halvorson: “The next Ted Cruz: Meet the Tea Party idol who could oust a top House Republican.” http://bit.ly/18HqNGe

    – Eno Center for Transportation releases its autonomous cars report ahead of today’s presser. http://bit.ly/19suHSQ

    – The Alliance for Aviation Across America nabs U.S. Conference of Mayors President Scott Smith for its board of directors. http://bit.ly/17engBj

    – The TSA is checking up on you well before you visit the airport by using employee, auto and other records… NYT: http://nyti.ms/19ZdAF8 (h/t Bob King)

    – …But the agency says it has “a very high bar when it comes to protecting the civil liberties of the traveling public.” The TSA Blog: http://1.usa.gov/1790Xed

    – City hall staffers knew about problems with the Los Angeles streetcar but kept quiet. L.A. Times: http://lat.ms/1dhh64Y

    THE COUNTDOWN: Surface transportation policy is up in 343 days and FAA policy in 708 days. The mid-term elections are in 377 days. DOT appropriations run out in 85 days.

    CABOOSE — Late to the WRRDA pun party: T&I member Trey Radel, like MT, is a fan of WRRDA puns. Check out this tweet from the congressman yesterday after some Buzzfeed reporters were joking about the wonky bill: “hey, hey #WRRDA can be cool. Try using it instead of word… I’m gonna make it happen. Like fetch.” MT’s been doing that all year, congressman. http://bit.ly/17ae5zE