CVSA Meets With President-Elect Obama’s DOT Transition Team
Soon after the November 4 election, President-Elect Obama’s transition team dispatched representatives to each agency and department of the federal government to undertake a review of current issues. This included the Department of Transportation and its individual modal administrations. Such reviews consisted of not only in-depth discussions with agency personnel but also with key constituencies of that agency. As a major partner of FMCSA, FHWA and PHMSA, CVSA was invited to participate in this process at a meeting with the Obama Transportation Transition team on November 24. This is the first time that CVSA has been invited to participate in the transition process for an incoming Administration. Transition team members included Henry Jasny (Advocates for Auto and Highway Safety), Greg Tarpinian (Transportation Trade Unions), and Mortimer Downey, (Deputy Secretary of Transportation in the Clinton Administration). Other stakeholder groups in the meeting were ATA, NPTC, OOIDA, TCA, and TMA.
Congressional Meetings Underway to Discuss Reauthorization Proposals
The reauthorization process is now fully underway. CVSA has met on several occasions with majority and minority staff of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. We have been told that Chairman Oberstar wants to have the outline of a bill ready by Inauguration Day with specific legislative language drafted soon thereafter. His goal is to introduce a bill ahead of the new Administration. Meetings with Senate Commerce Committee staff began on December 15.
As with the Obama transition team, these Congressional meetings thus far have not revealed any specific ideas or themes as to where Congress will be coming from. Up to this point they want to hear from CVSA and other constituent groups what their/our issues are along with as much supporting information as possible. CVSA issues drawing the most interest are flexible grant programs tied to performance-based accountability, maintenance of effort, and a review and tightening up of the safety exemption process.
More Details of Obama’s Stimulus Package Emerging
One of President-Elect Obama’s stimulus package proposals would make the largest investment in the nations’ infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System was created in 1956. It appears, thus far, that funding would go to “hard infrastructure” projects that are ready to go.
Preparation of the stimulus package is now occupying much of Congressional staff time. It is anticipated that a stimulus bill will be ready for House and Senate consideration soon after the January 20 Inauguration. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has said that Obama’s recovery plan is separate and distinct from what will be needed in the transportation reauthorization bill.
Should the stimulus bill contain tax incentives for business to create more jobs (which is likely), it is possible that the Truck Safety Technology Act that CVSA has been working on over the past year with other industry partner groups could be included. However, details of what any potential tax bill would look like are not known at this time.
This week FMCSA has issued two Final Rules, one regarding the New Entrant Safety Assurance Program and another regarding the safety and inspection of Intermodal Chassis Equipment, commonly referred to as the Roadability rule. Both will impact on the CVSA Membership and your activities, so we encourage you to review them and to let us know if you have any concerns or questions. The Electronic Onboard Recorder Final rule is still under review at the Office of Management and Budget and it is hoped that it will be published soon.