Copies of President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget await distribution in the Senate Budget Committee room Monday (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Running through our stories this week was the theme of struggle, the competitive fray, the battle between contending forces.
Since we’re in Washington, D.C., of course there’s the inevitable struggle between the executive and legislative branches over political power and the interpretation of law.
Rep. Janice Hahn, D-Calif., told us that in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), enacted just last year, “We laid out a very reasonable, common-sense goal of increasing what we’re spending every year” on harbor dredging and port maintenance.
But Hahn said President Obama’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget “decreases what we’re spending every year and in fact in 2025 is only proposing that 30 percent of all the money we collect would be returned to the ports.”
And we described another legislative vs. executive struggle over a new tank car standard which the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has yet to deliver, creating regulatory uncertainty among railroads, shippers, and car manufacturers.
A sardonic Rep. Peter DeFazio, D- Ore., said at a House hearing Tuesday the rule is “lost somewhere in the bowels of the administration between the agency and the trolls over at the Office of Management and Budget who will further delay the ruling.”
Then there’s the struggle between major U.S. airlines and Persian Gulf competitors such as Emirates over the terms of Open Skies agreements were intended to allow fairly free and open competition.
The U.S. air carriers are asking the Obama administration to consider re-negotiating those deals, alleging that Gulf air carriers are government subsidized.
Another form of struggle is the eternal one of labor versus management. We saw it this week in the West Coast port managers’ standoff with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union over a new contract.
Pacific Maritime Association President Jim McKenna as he warned that ports from Los Angeles to Seattle were at “the brink of collapse” due to union work slowdowns.