Senate Republicans Reveal Streamlined Infrastructure Package. In response to President Biden’s $2.25 billion infrastructure plan, Senate Republicans have unveiled a smaller five-year $568 billion package. The Republican framework would include:
· $299 billion for highways and bridges;
· $61 billion for public transit;
· $20 billion for rail, including Amtrak;
· $35 billion for drinking water and wastewater;
· $13 billion for safety programs at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration;
· $17 billion for ports and inland waterways;
· $44 billion for airports;
· $65 for broadband infrastructure; and
· $14 billion for water storage.
Unlike the White House package, which would fund infrastructure investments primarily by increasing the corporate income tax rate from 21 to 28%, the Senate Republican plan does not have a specific revenue proposal. Instead it contains several tax policy concepts that should be used to fund the infrastructure bill.
These include covering the cost of the infrastructure bills to avoid increasing the debt; shoring up revenue shortfalls in the Highway Trust Fund and other infrastructure trust funds; ensuring that all users of certain types of infrastructure (e.g., electric vehicles) contribute to the generation of revenue; repurpose unused federal spending; and preserve the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, including extending the cap on the state & local tax deduction and protecting against any corporate or international tax increases.
House Democrats are expected to introduce their infrastructure bill in the next few weeks; they have tentatively scheduled a markup to move the bill out of committee in the last week of May.
On April 14, the entire 63-member House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a “Members Day” to allow each member to present their district’s infrastructure needs. Committee leadership also announced they would accept project submissions from their colleagues for consideration to be included in the forthcoming surface transportation legislation. This means that committee member may ask to have local projects “earmarked” for inclusion in the legislation. Earmarked projects have historically been a means to garner committee member support for surface transportation bills, but were banned in the past several Congresses.
Biden Announces Plan for 50% Reduction in GHG by 2030. President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030.
The policy approach outlined to achieve these climate goals includes electrification of buildings and “wider use of heat pumps.” It expresses support for research, development, demonstration, and deployment of advanced renewable fuels, but only in the context of developing sustainable aviation fuels. The administration did not explicitly support use of renewable fuels in on-road transportation.
Additionally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to reduce emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, an increase from the previous 30% target. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged to reduce emissions 46% below 2013 levels. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday’s passage of Green Deal legislation in the 27-nation parliament puts Europe on-track to be “the first climate-neutral continent in the world.” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK is already halfway to net-zero. Two of the largest global emitters – China and India – did not announce any new targets, however.
Moreover, twelve state governors sent a letter urging President Biden to order 100% zero-emission car and light truck sales by 2035. It also calls upon the administration to enact policies to ensure that 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles sales are zero-emission by 2045.
FMCSA Proposes Four-Year Extension to Integrate Medical Certificate into CDL. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has proposed extending the compliance date from June 22, 2021, to June 23, 2025, for several provisions in the Medical Examiner’s Certification Integration final rule published back in 2015. 86 Fed. Reg. 21259 (April 22, 2021).
Specifically, the agency proposes to postpone, to June 23, 2025, the provisions for: (1) FMCSA to electronically transmit, from the National Registry of Certified Medical Examiners to the State Driver License Agencies, driver identification information, examination results, and restriction information from examinations performed for holders of commercial learner’s permits or commercial driver’s licenses (both interstate and intrastate); (2) FMCSA to electronically transmit to the SDLAs medical variance information for all commercial motor vehicle drivers; (3) SDLAs to post on the Commercial Driver’s License Information System (CDLIS) driver record the driver identification, examination results, and restriction information received electronically from FMCSA; and (4) motor carriers to no longer be required to verify that CLP/ CDL drivers were certified by a certified medical examiner listed on the National Registry.
The compliance date for these provisions was postponed previously from June 22, 2018, to June 22, 2021. Because of ongoing problems with integrating the information technology systems of the National Registry and SDLAs, the agency is now proposing a further four-year delay in implementation.
This means that motor carriers must continue to verify that CDL drivers are certified by a certified medical examiner listed on the National Registry for an additional four years.
FMCSA Seeks Input on Automated Driving Systems. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has submitted a request to the Office of Management and Budget for permission to solicit information on how to incorporate automated driving systems into commercial truck fleets. 86 Fed. Reg. 21781 (April 23, 2021).
The notice states that ADS-equipped trucks hold the promise of increased safety, productivity, and efficiency, but it is not clear how these vehicles should be integrated into fleet operations with conventional trucks for mixed-fleet operations. The FMCSA is seeking information from truck industry representatives, both private and for-hire motor carriers, regarding their opinions and perception of how to integrate ADS into their current fleet operations.
The proposal includes a series of outreach events where truck drivers and truck fleet managers will have the opportunity to meet ADS technology developers and original equipment manufacturers and participate in hands-on technology demonstrations, such as in-vehicle demonstrations and closed-course scenarios.
Data will be collected from Commercial Motor Vehicle drivers, CMV fleet managers, industry engineers, CMV sales personnel, researchers, and State and Federal government personnel at four roadshows. The FMCSA requests comments on ways for the agency to enhance the quality, usefulness, and clarity of the collected information.