Legislative Activity

WRDA Reauthorization

Floor consideration of H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, has been delayed due to the debate over the continuing resolution.

This Week’s Hearings:

Despite the shutdown, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee continues to hold hearings and conduct business as usual. The following subcommittee hearings are scheduled for this week:

  • Wednesday, October 9: The Subcommittee on Highways and Transit is scheduled to hold a hearing titled “How Autonomous Vehicles Will Shape the Future of Surface Transportation.”
  • Thursday, October 10: The Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation is scheduled to hold a hearing on maritime transportation regulations.
  • Thursday, October 10: The Panel on 21st Century Freight Transportation is scheduled to hold a hearing titled “Funding the Nation’s Freight System.”

Agency Activity

Government Shutdown

The impact of the government shutdown on the Department of Transportation is not distributed evenly across the modal administrations. For example, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has experienced no furloughs while 95 percent of Federal Transit Administration (FTA) staff has been furloughed. Although both FHWA and FTA have sufficient liquidating cash from the Highway Trust Fund, FTA is unable to outlay funds due to the lack of appropriations for the salaries of staff executing payments. The FTA furloughs will also impact the agency’s ability to carry out environmental, legal, civil rights, and other reviews essential for advancing projects.

Major functions of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will continue, including the work of air traffic controllers, airport inspections, existing airport development grants, and Passenger Facility Charge approvals. However, the shutdown will suspend aviation rulemakings, development of NextGen safety standards, and capital planning for FAA facilities and equipment.

All functions and activities assigned to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Railroad Policy are suspended during the shutdown, including all grant and financial assistance activities like Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan payments, and the intake, processing and evaluation of grant applications submitted to FRA.

The shutdown will impact some of the federal government’s transportation safety activities. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will delay its distribution of FY 2014 Highway Safety Grant funds and accident investigations performed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been limited, which inhibited NTSB’s ability to investigate a Tennessee bus crash that killed eight people last week.

A full description of the Department of Transportation’s contingency plans for a lapse in appropriations can be found here.