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Infrastructure in the News 11.16.16

BAF IN THE NEWS

 

Building America’s Future and Bloomberg Next: New Directions for US Infrastructure

Marcia Hale moderated a panel with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, Oklahoma City Mayor and U.S. Conference of Mayors President Mick Cornett, Damon Silvers (Policy Director, AFL-CIO) and Ed Mortimer (Transportation & Infrastructure Executive Director, US Chamber of Commerce)

http://bafuture.org/events/building-america%E2%80%99s-future-and-bloomberg-next-new-directions-us-infrastructure

Building America’s Future partnered with Bloomberg to kick of the first Bloomberg Next event, a discussion about the future of America’s infrastructure. Touching on key topics of government, technology, sustainability and the workforce, the event focused on understanding and addressing the needs of US infrastructure. The event brought together elected officials, smart technology experts and private infrastructure leaders for a conversation on where the Trump administration and Congress should focus their infrastructure efforts.

 

NATIONAL NEWS

 

USA Today: Trump's infrastructure plan: Potholes or a smooth ride?

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2016/11/16/trumps-infrastructure-plan-potholes-smooth-ride/93890402/

President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to spend $550 billion over the next decade to upgrade the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways has been celebrated as a key driver of the stock market’s post-election rally and a potential jolt to a listless economy.

 

US News & World Report: A New Day for Infrastructure

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-11-16/donald-trump-brings-new-day-for-infrastructure-to-america

With Donald Trump's historic election win, much attention is focused on his promise to "rebuild our nation's infrastructure." The president-elect proposes a plan to invest $1 trillion over a 10-year period on highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools and hospitals among other things. But rather than a massive, New Deal-style endeavor, Trump envisions the building would come primarily from private sources, not the government. Washington's role would be to support the investments with tax credits or get paid back by borrowers from revenue generated by user fees.

 

Reuters: Unexpected issue with spending $1 trillion on infrastructure

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-data-dive-infrastructure-idUSKBN13A2N1

President-elect Donald Trump would like to push $1 trillion in infrastructure spending through Congress, as a way to boost productivity and create jobs. But will there be enough skilled workers to take on those projects?

 

Washington Post: Preparing for Thanksgiving travel? Here’s what to expect by rail, air or highway.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/travel/preparing-for-thanksgiving-travel-heres-what-to-expect-by-rail-air-or-highway/2016/11/15/7ae22de8-9181-11e6-9c52-0b10449e33c4_story.html

Several givens occur over Thanksgiving: You will go up a belt notch, and, unless you plan to eat a Swanson turkey dinner for one, you will join the millions of other feast-bound celebrants on the roads and rails and in the air. The November holiday is one of the busiest travel periods of the year, when Americans bombard the major modes of transportation over a five-day stretch.

 

Associated Press: No price tag, end date for FAA’s air traffic control plan

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/no-price-tag-end-date-for-faas-air-traffic-control-plan/2016/11/15/e88452c2-ab9e-11e6-8f19-21a1c65d2043_story.html

The Federal Aviation Administration has little to show for a decade of work on modernizing air traffic control, and faces barriers and billions more in spending to realize its full benefits, says a report released Tuesday by a government watchdog.

 

Curbed: Autonomous vehicles could get broad bipartisan support

http://www.curbed.com/2016/11/15/13630578/driverless-cars-regulation-david-strickland-trump

David L. Strickland understands the government regulation of vehicles more than anyone. As the head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) during the Obama years, he oversaw major changes to the way the government pushed for more nimble technological solutions to make cars safer, cleaner, and more connected. He thinks autonomous vehicles (AVs) are about to usher in a major breakthrough for our society—no matter who’s in the White House.

 

Orlando Business Journal: Exclusive: 5 takeaways on U.S. infrastructure’s future under Trump

http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2016/11/15/exclusive-5-takeaways-on-u-s-infrastructure-s.html

Parsons executive Michael Johnson shed light on America’s top infrastructure needs at Bloomberg Next’s summit yesterday in Washington, D.C., in the wake of President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to prioritize infrastructure investments.

 

Inverse: Ford CEO Mark Fields: We're on the "Cusp of a Mobility Revolution"

https://www.inverse.com/article/23779-mark-fields-la-auto-show

Ford CEO Mark Fields offered his vision for the future of the car company Tuesday, which involves transportation services — ride-sharing, autonomous technology, and even bicycles — that he hopes expands the automaker’s revenue greatly in the coming years while presumably offering everybody more ways to get around their city.

 

STATE NEWS

 

Washington Post: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to be expanded next fall

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/chesapeake-bay-bridge-tunnel-to-be-expanded-next-fall/2016/11/16/653b8eca-abe0-11e6-8f19-21a1c65d2043_story.html

Virginia is preparing to expand the tunnel that connects Hampton Roads to the state’s Eastern Shore.

 

Washington Post: Editorial: Voters across the country are taking transit funding into their own hands. Not so near the District.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/voters-across-the-country-are-taking-transit-funding-into-their-own-hands-not-near-the-district/2016/11/15/149abf98-aab6-11e6-a31b-4b6397e625d0_story.html

WHILE WASHINGTON-AREA leaders duck, dodge and squabble about how to fix and fund Metro, localities elsewhere that rely on transit have taken matters into their own hands. In cities and regions across the country, voters last week approved about three dozen ballot measures to increase their own taxes to raise a staggering $170 billion for an array of train, subway, light-rail and bus projects.

 

Construction Guide: $24B Hudson Tunnels Project Fast-Tracked by USDOT

http://www.constructionequipmentguide.com/24b-hudson-tunnels-project-fast-tracked-by-usdot/31441

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), along with Amtrak Board Chairman Anthony R. Coscia and other federal partners in the Gateway Program announced the achievement of a series of milestones and accomplishments in the vitally important infrastructure program.

 

Chicago Tribune: Monorail as regional transportation 'visionary' says Kane board member

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/elgin-courier-news/news/ct-ecn-kane-transportation-monorail-st-1116-20161115-story.html

Driverless cars may be in the near future, but planning experts looking ahead at the year 2050 could consider a fifth type of transportation mode: the monorail.

 

Columbus Dispatch: Columbus seeks input for long-range transportation plan

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2016/11/15/Columbus-transportation-plant.html#

This week is the last chance for Columbus residents to provide input on the city’s long-range transportation plan.

 

The Anniston Star: Major local project unlikely under Trump infrastructure plan

http://www.annistonstar.com/news/major-local-project-unlikely-under-trump-infrastructure-plan/article_17cd4b82-ab82-11e6-8554-8f52fbf98131.html

On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump proposed a surge of investment in roads, bridges and other infrastructure that could eclipse Barack Obama’s recession-era stimulus spending.

Politico Morning Transportation - By Brianna Gurciullo | 11/16/2016 05:40 AM EDT

With help from Colin Wilhelm, Lauren Gardner, Jennifer Scholtes, Tanya Snyder and Annie Snider

CORPORATIONS, TAXES AND INFRASTRUCTURE — OH MY! An economic adviser to President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday pitched to lawmakers the idea of using a one-time 10 percent tax on corporate revenues repatriated from overseas to offset costs associated with an infrastructure spending plan. "We think that there's as much as $2 trillion overseas," Stephen Moore said at a meeting arranged by House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Moore said the arrangement could possibly raise between $100 billion and $150 billion.

Roads, bridges and airports: As far as what spending would be aimed at, Moore said: "I know roads and bridges would be a part of it. Trump has also talked about airports." He added that coupling tax reform with infrastructure spending would be "a potential way to get Democrats to buy into the jobs program."

A blending of ideas: Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.) described the proposal as a merging of the ideas of House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and economic wonks who have advised Trump during the course of the campaign, including Moore, Larry Kudlow and Art Laffer. But Moore did hedge, saying, "This is just something that's been considered."

HAPPY WEDNESDAY: Good morning and thanks for tuning in to POLITICO's Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports. Please send tips, feedback and, of course, song lyrics to bgurciullo@politico.com or @brigurciullo.

"Rips off his tie, hands it to a homeless man sleeping in the corner of a metro bus stand. He screams, 'I'm not going to work today. Going to count the minutes that the trains run late. Sit on the grass building pyramids out of Coke cans.'" (h/t Bonnie Fan at Chicago Transit Authority)

Want to keep up with all of MT's song picks? Follow our Spotify playlist.

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THUNE WAITING FOR DEETS ON TRUMP'S INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN: Senate Commerce Chairman John Thune told MT on Tuesday that he thinks "it's awfully early" to hash out the details of a specific infrastructure investment proposal. But he knows it's a priority for Trump and there are plenty of lawmakers who want to address infrastructure needs. "And if there's some way that that could be coupled with some tax reform that would make us more competitive globally, there might be an appetite to do something," Thune said. "So we're open for business and interested to get an opportunity to talk with the new administration, with our colleagues in the House about what might be doable."

On the money: As for Trump's eye-popping figure of $1 trillion in investment? "It's a big number," Thune said. "But again I think it all comes down to what we could do if we did [have] some sort of a repatriation vehicle for this, how it all adds up."

TALE AS OLD AS TIME: Washington's favorite parlor game this time of (election) year is guessing who will be nominated to fill out the incoming president's Cabinet, and Trump's DOT is no exception. While former House Transportation Chairman John Mica has started making his case for the job publicly, the transpo world is wondering whether Mark Rosenker, a former NTSB chairman under President George W. Bush who's worked in several GOP administrations, might be in the running.

In the line of duty: Our Lauren Gardner reached out to Rosenker, who said he's informally advised the Trump transition team but was tight-lipped on future employment prospects. He did say, however, that he's not one to turn down a president when asked to serve. "I haven't in the past — I don't intend to this time, should something come up," Rosenker said.

MCCAUL THROWS HAT IN DHS RING: Texas Rep. Mike McCaul is seeking to take the helm at the Department of Homeland Security. "I've expressed my interest, and I think the process is taking place," McCaul, who's chaired the House Homeland Security Committee for four years, told Pro Cybersecurity's Cory Bennett and Martin Matishak on Tuesday. "I think I have both a good skill set, and I know the department very well, know what needs to be done," said McCaul, who has advised Trump on national security. McCaul last month wouldn't " close off" the idea of running against Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018, but it now appears he would prefer to be the head of DHS.

HOUSE DEMS ON THE ATC OVERHAUL ATTACK: Two of the House Transportation Committee's top Democrats leaped at the chance to attack Chairman Bill Shuster's mission to separate air traffic control from the FAA on Tuesday after the GAO released a report that they say picks apart Shuster's arguments. Shuster, as MT readers know well, has proposed handing over ATC responsibilities to a nonprofit corporation that airlines would largely oversee. But according to the GAO, experts haven't reached a consensus on whether such a move actually quickens the implementation of new technologies, cuts costs or makes the public safer.

But, wait, Dems say there's more: It's possible taxpayers would have to bail out the separate ATC body if the economy tanks, Reps. Peter DeFazio and Rick Larsen said in a statement Tuesday. As our Tanya Snyder reports for Pros, they also said that while a Republican White House may help Shuster's cause next year, "any proposal to overhaul the existing ATC system must be thoroughly vetted, not rushed through Congress just because the political landscape makes it easier." Opponents to Shuster's plan have argued that the government already has a solution for updating air traffic control: NextGen. But progress on that system has been slow.

IG: NextGen hasn't been particularly 'transformational': Most NextGen programs haven't really transformed air traffic management as they were supposed to, according to a new DOT inspector general report, and six of the most important programs lack final cost estimates and target dates. "FAA originally identified the transformational programs as efforts that would fundamentally change the way the agency would manage air traffic," the IG said. "However, our review has found that, at least until 2020, most of the transformational programs will not transform how air traffic is managed. ... Since our last report, FAA has not adjusted anticipated benefits for its transformational programs, and many benefits remain unquantified, broad, or uncertain for improving the flow of air traffic and reducing agency operating costs." The FAA "non-concurred" with the IG recommendations, as our Jennifer Scholtes reports for Pros.

Shuster's eyes light up: Shuster jumped to comment on the IG report Tuesday. "The IG's findings confirm my long-held belief, and the belief of many experts, that the FAA's bureaucracy is simply unable to manage large, multi-year, technologically complex capital projects, particularly when tied to an annual funding cycle," he said in a statement. "ATC reform will address this flawed construct and allow NextGen to be managed in a sound, businesslike manner that ensures the efficiency and continued safety of our system."

** A message from the National Association of Manufacturers: It's time for America to come together. The National Association of Manufacturers believes moving forward means #BeTheSolution. Investment in infrastructure, including ways to advance energy infrastructure, is a promising place to start. Learn more about the NAM's infrastructure initiative, "Building to Win," and how, together, we can build economic growth. http://www.nam.org/buildingtowin **

UPHILL TRUDGE ON WRDA: House and Senate staffers met Tuesday evening to try to strike a deal on how to combine two very different water resources packages. But their bosses have conflicting views on whether they'll be able to pull it off. EPW Chairman Jim Inhofe reiterated Tuesday night that the upper chamber's $220 million spending package for Flint, Mich., and other communities would have to be part of the deal for a final bill to pass muster in the Senate. "I'd like to have it better than it's going right now," he acknowledged to Pro Energy's Annie Snider, although he said he is still "optimistic there will be a deal."

Hold the phone: Peter DeFazio, the House Transportation Committee's top Democrat, gave a final bill long odds. "I don't think there's going to be much legislating done in the next few weeks," he told MT. But that's fine with DeFazio, since he opposed the House version of WRDA after a Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund provision was dropped. DeFazio said he's hopeful his work on that issue can find new traction next year with Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster and the Trump administration.

VOLUNTARY, BUT IN YOUR SELF INTEREST: If driverless car makers want the public to trust their products, they should follow NHTSA's new 15-point safety assessment, says Administrator Mark Rosekind. As our Tanya Snyder reports for Pros, Rosekind said at a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing Tuesday that the assessment is voluntary (even though some states are trying to make compliance mandatory). But, he added, "if you want everyone to trust what you're working on, as a manufacturer or technology developer, we think you'd want the most transparent, thorough, public notice of what you're doing to address safety upfront." Could NHTSA make the assessment a requirement in the future? Rosekind left the question open.

OMB REVIEWING NEW DRONE RULE: OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is taking a look at FAA's proposed rule on the operation of small drones over people, which is expected to be released by the end of the year. The FAA's rule on the commercial use of small drones went into effect in late August, establishing registration and waiver processes for operators. Currently, operators have to get a waiver to fly drones over human beings. The FAA granted CNN such a waiver because it proved it could mitigate the risks of flying over people.

THE NUMBERS ARE IN: The cancellation rate for U.S. airlines hit an all-time low in September with 0.3 percent of scheduled domestic flights canceled. DOT said that's the lowest rate it has on record going back to January 1995. The previous all-time low was 0.4 percent, which airlines reported in September 2015. Airlines didn't report any tarmac delays of over three hours for domestic flights in September of this year. They also didn't report any tarmac delays of over fours hours for international flights. That's a big change from August, when they reported 15 such delays for domestic flights and five such delays for international flights. Overall, the airlines had an 85.5 percent on-time arrival rate. Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Virgin America had the lowest on-time arrival rates. ExpressJet Airlines, Frontier and JetBlue had the highest cancellation rates.

Discrimination complaints increase: DOT also for the first time ever released data on discrimination complaints, "as a result of concerns about alleged discrimination of passengers and an increase in the number of complaints filed," according to the department's release. DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division recorded 67 discrimination complaints against airlines from January to September of this year, 52 of which were related to race. American Airlines had the most discrimination complaints with 17 in total. In the first nine months of 2015, the division received 49 complaints. The complaints regarded alleged discrimination based on race, ancestry, national origin, color, religion and sex. (Complaints about how airlines treat disabled travelers is gathered separately.)

DOCUMENT DU JOUR: The U.S. Travel Association is out with recommendations for improving TSA. The group's report suggests lawmakers should ensure TSA fees aren't diverted to other projects; DHS should offer a "bulk rate" for enrollment in TSA PreCheck and simplify the PreCheck application process; TSA should stop requiring that travelers from many European Union countries recheck their bags; the federal government should make clear that the TSA administrator isn't expected to step down when a new administration begins; TSA should assess perimeter security at all commercial airports; and the agency should use the latest software to manage staff.

SHIFTING GEARS: The board of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has elected David Bernhardt as the group's president. Bernhardt is the commissioner of Maine's department of transportation. One of his goals as president of AASHTO will be "working closely with the new administration and members of Congress to develop strong transportation legislation," according to a release. The board also picked John Schroer, the commissioner of Tennessee's department of transportation, to serve as vice president.

Engage Cuba hired Madeleine Russak, formerly deputy press secretary for Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, as communications director. (h/t POLITICO Influence)

THE AUTOBAHN:

— "Police: Shooting of Southwest Airlines employee was planned." The Associated Press.

— "Lyft mocks Uber in new ad campaign." Bloomberg.

— "Biggest spike in traffic deaths in 50 years? Blame apps." The New York Times.

— "VW said to reach U.S. deal to fix most tainted Audi diesels." Bloomberg.

— "Sikh truckers reach settlement in faith discrimination case." The Associated Press.

— "Intel courts auto industry as battle brews to provide autonomous-car computing power." The Wall Street Journal.

— "Metro workers will wear alarms to let them know when trains are on the tracks." The Washington Post.

— "NTSB finds Ride the Ducks crash due to broken axle." The Associated Press.

THE COUNTDOWN: DOT appropriations run out in 23 days. The FAA reauthorization expires in 317 days. Highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,417 days.

THE DAY AHEAD:

7 a.m. — The National League of Cities begins its City Summit in Pittsburgh.

8 a.m. — Roll Call hosts an event on the "Future of Aviation Security." Speakers include Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.) and leaders from the U.S. Travel Association, ACI-North America, JetBlue and Airlines for America. The Newseum Knight Studio, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW.

9:30 a.m. — The Transportation and Related Equipment Technical Advisory Committee, which advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration, holds a meeting. Herbert C. Hoover Building, Room 3884, 14th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues NW.

1 p.m. — FHWA holds a "Talking Freight" seminar to "provide information to aid States in complying with the FAST Act requirements relating to State Freight Plans and Freight Advisory Committees." Registration for the webinar is here.

2:30 p.m. — The Senate Appropriations subcommittee on THUD holds a hearing on self-driving cars. Witnesses include NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, National Safety Council President and CEO Deborah Hersman and Alliance for Transportation Innovation President and CEO Paul Brubaker. Dirksen 192.

3 p.m. — The Senate Commerce Committee holds a hearing on augmented reality. Russell 253.

Did we miss an event? Let MT know at transpocalendar@politicopro.com.

** A message from the National Association of Manufacturers: Great nations build and invest in great infrastructure. When communities have greater access to economic opportunities and when manufacturers have efficient ways to move goods to market, the quality of life rises, productivity soars and societies thrive. Current U.S. infrastructure, however, is in an alarming state of disrepair and in urgent need of strong investments. Manufacturers want to #BeTheSolution. So as we call for healing and moving our country forward, we are calling for a major investment in renewing our transportation systems and advancing energy infrastructure. Americans are demanding a stronger, more inclusive economy. And that's why infrastructure can be part of the answer. Historical data indicates that previous significant investments in infrastructure have aligned with high levels of growth and more aggressive economic activity. That starts with sending WRDA to the President's desk this year. In 2017,the President-elect and Congress must act boldly. Learn more from the NAM's "Building to Win" infrastructure initiative. http://www.nam.org/buildingtowin **

To view online:
https://www.politicopro.com/tipsheets/morning-transportation/2016/11/corporations-taxes-and-infrastructure-oh-my-020157

Stories from POLITICO Pro

Mica wants to be Trump's DOT secretary Back

By Tanya Snyder | 11/14/2016 08:15 PM EDT

Rep. John Mica just lost reelection but has his sights set on bigger things — secretary of transportation.

Mica has approached Trump deputy campaign manager Dave Bossie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and others close to the president-elect about his interest. He says he has gotten "encouraging" signs about his candidacy. Mica also has a voicemail from Vice President-elect Mike Pence on his phone, but the two haven't yet been able to connect.

Since he wasn't expecting to lose his race, Mica said he didn't start thinking about the DOT job until after Tuesday.

Mica has a nationwide roster of mega-projects to point to when stumping for the job, including improvements to Sea-Tac airport and New York's East Side Access projects, as well as policy achievements like introducing competition in Amtrak and expanding the TIFIA loan program. He says he helped current leaders like House Transportation Chairman Bill Shuster and Rail Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham on their journeys to leadership.

If named secretary, which he repeatedly said would be "a great honor," Mica said a top priority would be implementing higher-speed trains on the Northeast Corridor, a goal he's had for years.

Asked if he would consider a modal administrator position, Mica insisted he would not: "I will take nothing but a Cabinet-level position."

Back

McCaul: 'I've expressed my interest' in DHS chief Back

By Cory Bennett and Martin Matishak | 11/15/2016 10:25 AM EDT

House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul is pushing to become head of the federal agency he oversees in Congress.

"I've expressed my interest, and I think the process is taking place," McCaul told POLITICO this morning outside a House Republican Conference meeting, when asked whether he was open to becoming Homeland Security secretary.

"I think I have both a good skill set, and I know the department very well, know what needs to be done," added the Texas Republican, who has chaired the Homeland Security Committee for four years.

During the 2016 campaign, McCaul advised Trump and his team on national security issues.

McCaul made headlines when he mentioned that Trump had dismissed his efforts to convince the candidate that Russia was responsible for the spate of election-season hacks that roiled the Democratic Party. But McCaul has continued to advise the president-elect's transition team.

"I've demonstrated my loyalty to the campaign," he said.

His remarks would seem to shut the door on the possibility that McCaul might challenge fellow Texas Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018. Reportedly, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry had been encouraging him to run.

In Congress, McCaul has been out front on a variety of cybersecurity issues, most notably shepherding through last year's landmark cybersecurity information-sharing law. He's also the co-sponsor of a compromise bill on encryption that would create an independent commission to study how law enforcement can access secure communications without endangering Americans' digital safety and right to privacy.

Back

McCaul won't 'close off' possibility of running against Cruz Back

By Brent Griffiths | 10/25/2016 12:02 PM EDT

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) was given multiple opportunities to rule out a 2018 primary challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday, but the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said at this point it would not be "smart" to rule out a run.

"I think any elected official, you don't close off your options," McCaul said at a Texas Tribune event in the state's capital on Tuesday. "I have several options potentially in front of me, and I'm not going to say no to any of them, whether it be serving an administration in a national security post, whether it be, possibly when I am term-limited on Homeland, going to chair the Foreign Relations committee — or going home ... I have five kids."

McCaul carefully broached the subject when pressed by Tribune CEO Evan Smith. The six- term congressman took a few shots at Cruz, but conceded that the first-term senator has improved since he snubbed his party's presidential nominee this summer in Cleveland.

"I think he spent a lot of time, since Day One running for president," McCaul said. "I think we deserve somebody in the Senate who is going to be representing the interests of state of Texas. I do think that after this election cycle that he has come home, that he realizes that you have to mind the store back home. I do think he has traveled the state to get that effort sort of back on track."

The 54-year-old said he comes from a generation where you "support your nominee," but also recalled how Cruz's predecessor focused squarely on her state.

"I remember Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas was her crown jewel."

Back

McCaul won't 'close off' possibility of running against Cruz Back

By Brent Griffiths | 10/25/2016 12:02 PM EDT

Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) was given multiple opportunities to rule out a 2018 primary challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday, but the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said at this point it would not be "smart" to rule out a run.

"I think any elected official, you don't close off your options," McCaul said at a Texas Tribune event in the state's capital on Tuesday. "I have several options potentially in front of me, and I'm not going to say no to any of them, whether it be serving an administration in a national security post, whether it be, possibly when I am term-limited on Homeland, going to chair the Foreign Relations committee — or going home ... I have five kids."

McCaul carefully broached the subject when pressed by Tribune CEO Evan Smith. The six- term congressman took a few shots at Cruz, but conceded that the first-term senator has improved since he snubbed his party's presidential nominee this summer in Cleveland.

"I think he spent a lot of time, since Day One running for president," McCaul said. "I think we deserve somebody in the Senate who is going to be representing the interests of state of Texas. I do think that after this election cycle that he has come home, that he realizes that you have to mind the store back home. I do think he has traveled the state to get that effort sort of back on track."

The 54-year-old said he comes from a generation where you "support your nominee," but also recalled how Cruz's predecessor focused squarely on her state.

"I remember Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas was her crown jewel."

Back

House Democrats seize on new GAO report to slam Shuster's air traffic control plan Back

By Tanya Snyder | 11/15/2016 04:43 PM EDT

Two top Democrats on the House Transportation Committee pounced on a GAO report today they say raises doubts about Rep. Bill Shuster's dream to separate air traffic control from the FAA.

The GAO found that there is no clear consensus among experts that turning air traffic control over to a private or nonprofit body expedites the adoption of new technology, saves money or better guarantees public safety — all arguments proponents of shifting ATC away from the FAA use to bolster their side.

In a statement about the GAO report, Reps. Peter DeFazio and Rick Larsen also raised doubts about whether taxpayers might have to bail out whatever entity is in charge of air traffic control, especially in case of an economic downturn. They also questioned whether such a change could raise ticket prices or increase the deficit.

They also suggested that Trump's ascension to the White House could give a boost to Shuster's bill next year, and cautioned that "any proposal to overhaul the existing ATC system must be thoroughly vetted, not rushed through Congress just because the political landscape makes it easier."

Shuster also issued a statement today, highlighting a separate report from the DOT's inspector general that panned the FAA's progress on NextGen; Shuster argued it is a prime reason to support his plan.

Back

DOT watchdog: Core NextGen programs falling short Back

By Jennifer Scholtes | 11/15/2016 12:15 PM EDT

The bulk of the FAA's "transformational" NextGen programs haven't been very effective at transforming air traffic management so far, DOT's inspector general reported today.

The IG's follow-up report explained that the agency has made changes to cost and schedules for NextGen programs since the agency was dinged in a 2012 assessment. But the six most pivotal NextGen programs still don't have final price tags or ultimate deadlines and have yet to live up to their lofty goals, the IG reported in this newest take.

"FAA originally identified the transformational programs as efforts that would fundamentally change the way the agency would manage air traffic," the IG reported. "However, our review has found that, at least until 2020, most of the transformational programs will not transform how air traffic is managed ..."

The FAA now has initial baseline costs for each NextGen program and has approved nearly $2 billion — for example — for the first segment of the DataComm initiative to enable air traffic controllers to send digital messages to pilots. However, each program's total cost, timeline and ultimate benefits remain unclear, the IG explained.

"Since our last report, FAA has not adjusted anticipated benefits for its transformational programs, and many benefits remain unquantified, broad, or uncertain for improving the flow of air traffic and reducing Agency operating costs," the IG concluded.

Senate Commerce Committee leaders from both sides of the aisle requested the IG update.

The FAA "non-concurred" with the inspector general's recommendations, and the IG is asking the agency to reconsider its response.

Back

NHTSA's Rosekind clarifies self-driving car safety letter Back

By Tanya Snyder | 11/15/2016 12:27 PM EDT

NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told a House panel this morning that though his agency's 15-point safety assessment for driverless cars is voluntary, manufacturers should want to comply with it if they want the public's trust.

Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rosekind acknowledged the ongoing discussion about whether the assessment letter was required, especially as some states have essentially moved to make it a requirement. He reiterated that for now, it's voluntary — but "if you want everyone to trust what you're working on, as a manufacturer or technology developer, we think you'd want the most transparent, thorough, public notice of what you're doing to address safety upfront."

He did leave open the possibility that NHTSA could require the letter in the future.

Rosekind also said the agency would be issuing a template, as several automakers have requested, which will include examples of what kinds of updates will trigger the need for a new letter submission.

In response to lawmaker questions, Rosekind insisted that NHTSA has the expertise on staff to evaluate the safety of autonomous vehicles and software, but acknowledged the agency would need more resources to hire more experts able to evaluate safety assessment letters and issue exemptions.

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