Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 28, 2014

Week’s Action Includes Possible Highway Trust Fund Vote in Senate

This could be a decisive week for highway and bridge building if the Senate can pass a bill providing additional money for the Highway Trust Fund.

The House passed its version of the bill last week. It would keep money flowing to state transportation projects through May 2015.

But Senate floor action could be slowed – as often happens – by the two parties’ inability to agree on the number of amendments that will get a debate and a vote.

As CQ Roll Call’s David Harrison has reported, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, plans to seek votes on an amendment that would devolve transportation funding to the states and one that would repeal the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which requires workers on federally funded projects to be paid a “prevailing wage” for each type of worker on a project.

Conservatives have argued for years that the Davis-Bacon law inflates infrastructure building costs. But organized labor strongly supports Davis-Bacon.

The House defeated the last congressional attempt to scuttle Davis-Bacon in 2011. That vote showed a split in GOP ranks with Northern and Midwestern Republicans supporting it, while Southerners and Westerners opposed it

The uncertainty over highway funding is sure to be a topic that Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx addresses Monday at 1 p.m. when speaks at the National Press Club.

On Tuesday, the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee’s subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development holds a hearing on “Building Economically Resilient Communities.”

Transportation will be one focus with witnesses including Joseph A. Calabrese, CEO and general manager of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority and Lee Gibson, executive director of the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Nev., which includes the Reno metro area.

On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee holds a hearing on manufacturing aircraft in the United States.

Witnesses include Pete Bunce, president of the trade association representing Beechcraft, Cessna, and other small plane manufacturers, and the Air Washington Project, an effort in the state of Washington to train production line workers for Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers.

In the coming weeks the Senate may take up legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which provides loans to support the export of U.S. goods, such as Boeing aircraft.

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson has criticized Ex-Im Bank subsidies to foreign airlines such as Emirates which compete with Delta.

On Thursday, conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute will host a debate on whether to scrap the Export-Import Bank, with Tony Fratto, a former deputy press secretary for President George W. Bush who’s now a lobbyist for business groups supporting the bank, and Timothy Carney, a visiting fellow in the Culture of Competition Project at AEI who’s a critic of the bank.

 

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