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Infrastructure Week; Congress Continues to Examine Infrastructure Needs; FAA Reauthorization

Legislative Activity

This Week is Infrastructure Week

May 15 – 19 is Infrastructure Week, with numerous events being held in Washington D.C. and around the country in an effort to increase support for investing in the country’s infrastructure. Infrastructure Week’s kickoff event will be held the morning of Monday, May 15, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Several transportation leaders will participate in panel discussions and presentations, and there will be a keynote address by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. A list of Infrastructure Week events is available here.

Congress Continues to Examine Infrastructure Needs

While there have been few details released on the Trump Administration’s infrastructure proposal, the Administration has suggested it will include $200 billion of direct federal investment intended to leverage up to $1 trillion in total infrastructure investment, and the Administration continues to signal that substantive program reforms are key to advancing projects faster and at lower costs.

Sen. John Thune (R-SD) stated last week that Congressional action on any Administration infrastructure proposal may not take place before 2018. In the meantime, Congress continues to examine the country’s infrastructure needs as well as opportunities to leverage private infrastructure investment. This week, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold hearings titled “Leveraging Federal Funding; Innovative Solutions for Infrastructure” and “Improving America’s Transportation Infrastructure: The Road Forward.” While health care reform, tax reform, and other developments have received much of Congress’ focus so far this year, members of both parties continue to voice support for a broad infrastructure package.

FAA Reauthorization Update

The current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization expires on September 30, 2017, and in the coming months Congress will begin considering FAA reauthorization legislation. Recently, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Thune said he would like to mark up an FAA reauthorization bill in June, and consider it on the Senate floor in July. However, this timeline may be too ambitious for a Congress currently focused on health care reform and tax reform.

Additionally, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) intends to reintroduce his plan from last Congress to reform the air traffic control (ATC) system by removing it from the federal government and placing ATC responsibilities in an independent non-profit corporation. Chairman Shuster’s ATC reform proposal was met with broad opposition last year from Democrats and some Republicans, and it is unclear whether the proposal will garner more support this year. Chairman Shuster may have gained one critical ally as President Trump included ATC reform in his Administration’s “Skinny Budget” released in March. This week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold its fifth hearing on FAA reauthorization, the first such hearing to focus on ATC reform.

This Week’s Hearings:

  • On Tuesday, May 16, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure has scheduled a hearing titled “Leveraging Federal Funding; Innovative Solutions for Infrastructure.” The witnesses will be announced.

  • On Wednesday, May 17, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Improving America’s Transportation Infrastructure: The Road Forward.”

  • On Wednesday, May 17, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “The Need to Reform FAA and Air Traffic Control to Build a 21st Century Aviation System for America.” The witnesses will be announced.

  • On Thursday, May 18, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has scheduled a hearing titled “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Improving Water Quality Through Integrated Planning.” The witnesses will be:

    • The Honorable Pete Buttigieg, Mayor, City of South Bend, Indiana; on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Mayors;

    • The Honorable Johnny L. DuPree, Ph.D., Mayor, City of Hattiesburg, Mississippi; on behalf of the National League of Cities;

    • The Honorable Todd Portune, Commissioner, Hamilton County, Ohio; on behalf of the National Association of Counties;

    • Craig Butler, Director, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency; on behalf of the Environmental Council of the States;

    • William E. Spearman, III, P.E., Principal, WE3 Consultants, LLC; on behalf of the American Public Works Association; and

    • Lawrence Levine, Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defense Council

  • On Thursday, May 18, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies has scheduled a hearing titled “Emerging Transportation Technologies.” The witnesses will be:

    • Nidhi Kalra, Senior Information Scientist, RAND Corporation;

    • Mykel Kochenderfer, Professor, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University;

    • David Strickland, Counsel and Spokesperson, Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets; and

    • Brian Wynne, President and CEO, Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International

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About this Author

Timothy W. Drake legal specialist legislative administrative law squire patton
Associate

Tim represents universities, municipalities, private sector companies and nonprofit organizations on a range of legislative and regulatory matters related to education, agriculture, transportation and healthcare. He assists clients in the development and implementation of comprehensive strategic plans, identifies federal funding opportunities, and provides guidance on the potential impacts of major reauthorizations and other federal policies. Tim also advises and supports clients during the rulemaking process and in their interactions with federal agencies.

During law school, Tim...

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Patricia Doersch, Squire Patton Boggs, infrastructure attorney, transportation and highway lawyer, corporate legal counsel, public policy law
Of Counsel

Patricia Doersch is a member of the firm’s Transportation, Infrastructure & Local Government Public Policy Practice. She assists transportation agencies, corporations and municipal governments in achieving their goals before the federal government.

Recognitions:

  • Lawrence R. Schneider Award, US Department of Transportation- the Department’s highest recognition of outstanding legal achievement
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