Tags: transportation | system | political | battleground

Report: DC Showdown Looms Over Planes, Trains, Drones

By    |   Friday, 02 Jan 2015 05:54 PM

The nation's transportation system could become a political battleground in 2015 as Washington eyes big, costly infrastructure projects and regulatory rulings on everything from commercial drones to in-flight cellphone chatter, Politico reports.

In Congress, the transportation agenda will include the rapidly depleting Highway Trust Fund, an expensive overhaul of the country's air-traffic-control system, and a stalled reauthorization of Amtrak — all part of a six-year wish list totaling $100 billion, Politico reports.

The price tag alone is likely to spark opposition, as well as partisan fights in the new Republican-dominated Congress that could erupt over individual projects — such as the size of Amtrak's subsidy, Politico reports.

While the House Transportation Committee voted unanimously in 2014 to reauthorize Amtrak, there's been no action yet before the full House — where "things could get complicated," Politico reports.

"Some hard-line lawmakers want to end Amtrak's $1.4 billion-per-year federal subsidy, while some Democrats would like to boost the railroad's funding to help it address a backlog of deteriorating infrastructure," writes Politico's Adam Snider.

Another issue is how to reauthorize the Highway Trust Fund, which pays for road construction and maintenance, before it runs out of money on May 30. But as Politico notes, "even a simple one-year extension . . . would cost around $15 billion," and there is concern that a plan to fund highways with revenue raised from corporate tax reform could be torpedoed in the larger tax-reform debate.

The Federal Aviation Administration's budget could also trigger disputes, as some lawmakers contemplate privatizing the Airport and Airway Trust Fund, and others from Western states push for a pet project — approval of new air routes from their home districts into Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., Politico reports.

Away from Capitol Hill, officials at the Department of Transportation are also under pressure to formalize a ban on in-flight cellphone use, and to come up with defensible rules for non-military drone flights as commercial and recreational use of drones increases.

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The nation's transportation system could become a political battleground in 2015 as Washington eyes big, costly infrastructure projects and regulatory rulings on everything from commercial drones to in-flight cellphone chatter, Politico reports.
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2015-54-02
Friday, 02 Jan 2015 05:54 PM
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