House members who oversee transportation plan to reauthorize key safety and freight regulators this year, while pushing for legislation to ease supply chain safeguards.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has set an agenda for the year that prioritizes measures to hold the Surface Transportation Board, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Maritime Commission accountable. The panel will discuss its fiscal strategy for fiscal year 2023 on Thursday, which reflects “a bipartisan effort.”
The agenda sets out the panel’s goals over the past few months from the leadership of its longtime top Democrat, the Speaker. Pierre DeFazio (Oregon), who is retiring. Still, not all committee members agree with “every aspect of the report,” the document says.
Limited time on the Congressional calendar in a year of midterm elections presents the panel with challenges in advancing its wish list. Legislators might try to add elements of their program to larger legislation, such as annual supply bills.
Among the committee’s priorities is the reauthorization of the National Transportation Safety Board, the independent federal agency that investigates accidents. He is seeking more money than in his current authorization, which expires on September 30 after it was last renewed in 2018.
The agency wants $129.3 million for fiscal year 2023, up from $121.4 million for the current fiscal year, according to the legislative proposal the NTSB has submitted to lawmakers. The House committee is “currently reviewing this proposal,” the panel said in its plan for the year.
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The panel also said it would begin work on the Federal Aviation Administration’s next reauthorization bill. Meanwhile, lawmakers plan to continue monitoring the FAA’s latest law, which authorized the agency through fiscal year 2023. The mandates of that law have not yet been carried out, according to the committee, including including the requirement for flight attendants to obtain at least 10 hours rest between flight duty.
Supply chain, railway objectives
The committee also said it plans to reauthorize the Surface Transportation Board, which was last renewed through 2020. Lawmakers are weighing more heavily on the board’s authority under the legislation.
The agency, which oversees fares and freight rail services, weighed the measures against the railways amid complaints about delays, worker shortages and strained supply chains. He is holding a public hearing this week into rail service complaints, and some have suggested he may need additional authority to deal with freight train delays.
“If the board demands more authority or clarity from Congress, it should ask for it,” Greg Regan, chairman of the Department of Transportation Trades, AFL-CIO, said during the STB hearing on Tuesday.
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Supply chain backlogs have captured the attention of lawmakers and the administration in recent months. A shipping overhaul could move forward in Congress as lawmakers negotiate legislation aimed at bolstering U.S. competitiveness with China. But challenges remain between the two chambers after the House and Senate passed various bipartisan bills to give more authority to the Federal Maritime Commission, which regulates shipping.
The Covid pandemic has disrupted the flow of goods and exposed container handling issues, so this year, the panel reported, lawmakers “will continue to push for bipartisan legislation that will bolster FMC’s enforcement capabilities.” , strengthen the overseas supply chain and ensure fairness in the global shipping industry.
The committee also said it plans to authorize a disadvantaged business program at the Federal Railroad Administration. It comes after a push by women and people of color in the railroad industry who said discrimination is common.
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