DC Update: White House’s Proposed Budget May Allow New Tolls

A report on government actions that could affect the remote-production industry

The White House released its FY2018 budget this week, with some bad news and some good news for truck owners/drivers.

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney announces the president’s FY2018 budget proposal.

Released on Tuesday, the proposal seeks to inject $200 billion into infrastructure over the next 10 years. The Department of Transportation would see a 13% cut, to $16.2 billion, but a new budget item, “support $1 trillion in private/public infrastructure investment,” lays out a plan for $200 billion of direct public spending. What projects would receive the money is not explained, but a document titled “Fact Sheet 2018 Budget: Infrastructure Initiative” and released alongside the budget sheds some light on the administration’s infrastructure vision, with more details forthcoming.

Included on the Fact Sheet was a proposal to add tolls to existing interstates, a practice that is currently restricted and would certainly affect anyone in remote production who travels on federal highways. Both the American Trucking Association and the National Association of Truck Stop Operators came out against the proposal, and several members of Congress expressed doubt that the proposal would “go very far” because the public will likely balk at the idea of paying to travel on a highway after years of driving on it for free. Stay tuned on how Congress responds to this proposal.

Amidst the administration’s budget release, FMSCA announced that it will delay for a third time the effective date of another rule on Tuesday – the Minimum Training Requirements for Entry-Level Commercial Motor Vehicle Operators – for further review. The review period is now extended to June 5.

On Wednesday, Representative Sam Graves (R-MO) announced that he expects the House Transportation Committee to mark up an FAA bill sometime in June.

Also on Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security had its final meeting with European officials regarding possible expansion of an electronics ban to airports in Europe and beyond. According to a DHS spokesperson, the discussions were meant to provide an opportunity for information-sharing, rather than a negotiation on whether the ban should be expanded. DHS made clear that it is ultimately Secretary John Kelly’s decision.

Thursday marked the 129-day countdown until DOT appropriations run out. FAA reauthorization expires in 129 days, and the highway and transit policy is up for renewal in 1,225 days.

The Senate is in recess next week, but the House will be in session, and we can expect more information released on the infrastructure package.

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