The two most powerful members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee see a lot of common ground for infrastructure improvements once the new Congress is empaneled in January.
Incoming House T&I chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and incoming Ranking Committee Member Sam Graves, R-Mo., sat down for exclusive interviews with Land Line Now’s Mary McKenna.
You can listen to the full interviews via the links below.
Both DeFazio and Graves say the T&I committee has historically been a place where bipartisan initiatives have been able to flourish.
DeFazio says he and Graves have “lots of grounds for agreement.”
“I’m hoping this will be the Congress where we can come together, we can work with the White House, and we can pass a major surface transportation bill,” DeFazio said.
Among the priorities DeFazio says he hopes to address are a national vehicle miles traveled pilot program, infrastructure funding plans, and a proposal to tackle detention time.
DeFazio says addressing detention time is crucial to improving the working conditions of truckers.
“We have an inefficient system. The cost of an inefficient warehousing system get shifted on to truck drivers. And that’s not right,” he said. “We used to have detention time before we deregulated trucking. If they made you sit there for three hours, they had to pay you for three hours. Which made the system more efficient. Right now there is no cost to the shipper or the receiver, and that’s not right.
“This is probably the greatest potential cause of people driving out of compliance with hours of service,” he said. “We need to fix that.”
Along with a more efficient detention system, DeFazio says he hopes to address congestion, autonomous vehicles, and truck parking.
“We don’t need to study (truck parking) anymore,” he said. “We need to act.”
Click the play button below to listen to Land Line Now’s Mary McKenna interview Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon.
When the new Congress begins in January, U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., will become the ranking member on the Transportation Committee – giving him considerable influence over trucking policy and many other factors that relate to the industry.
In his interview, Graves echoed DeFazio’s optimism for progress on an infrastructure bill.
“Traditionally the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has always been very bipartisan,” he said. “We can all agree we want an infrastructure package, the President wants it, the Senate wants it, the House wants it, so I foresee us moving forward with that and getting something done.”
Graves says identifying an appropriate funding mechanism will be the crucial point. He points out that the current fuel tax is “regressive” and like DeFazio, says he’s supportive of a VMT tax to help address the shortfall.
Click the play button below to listen to Land Line Now’s Mary McKenna interview Rep. Sam Graves, R-Missouri.
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