Another new face in federal transportation leadership

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 7/26/2013

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C., will take over for Peter DeFazio of Oregon as the ranking Democrat on a congressional subcommittee that oversees trucking and surface transportation in the U.S. House.

Democratic members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved Holmes Norton as the ranking party member on the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit.

Even though the Republicans control the House of Representatives as well as chairmanships of the committees and subcommittees, the role of a ranking Democrat is significant according to those who play close attention to happenings on Capitol Hill.

“She’s coming into a highly influential position when it comes to trucking matters, and will play a significant role in the drafting of the next highway bill,” said OOIDA Chief Operations Officer Rod Nofziger.

Nofziger points out that Holmes Norton, a 12-term member of Congress, represents D.C., and does not get a vote on the House floor because D.C. is not a ratified state. But she does cast votes on committee and procedural matters according to congressional rules.

With DeFazio recently named as ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, a position he sought, Holmes Norton becomes one of transportation’s “big four” in the U.S. House, led by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., T&I Committee ranking member Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., and Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Tom Petri, R-Wis.

Her congressional record shows she has stood with truckers on numerous bills, as co-sponsor of the “Jason’s Law” parking provision in the current highway bill, and against the U.S. cross-border trucking program with Mexico. Holmes Norton was part of a panel that sorted out differences between the House and Senate versions of the current two-year highway bill known as MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

DeFazio will still serve on the transportation committee and subcommittee, but he recently became ranking Democrat on the House National Resources Committee, a position he sought. DeFazio stood with truckers on numerous issues including CSA, cross-border trucking and detention time.

Transportation has had its share of new faces in the past year, with Shuster replacing former T&I Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., and with Petri replacing former Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman John J. Duncan, R-Tenn., due to House Republican term-limit rules.

Rahall is the lone remaining member of the “big four” who had a hand in drafting the House version of MAP-21. That bill expires next summer.

Topping off the new faces in federal transportation matters is Anthony Foxx, who recently succeeded Ray LaHood as U.S. secretary of transportation, a position appointed by President Obama.

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