Shuster-DeFazio Looks Set to Follow Shuster-Rahall Tone

Posted by admin on November 27, 2014


By David Harrison, CQ Roll Call

Taste of Shuster-DeFazio. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee appears ready to maintain the relatively amicable atmosphere that reigned between Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and ranking member Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., after Rahall’s departure at the end of the current Congress.

Oregon’s Peter A. DeFazio will become ranking member, as Rahall lost his bid for re-election. If Tuesday’s Federal Aviation Administration hearing is any indication, DeFazio will try to maintain the cordial relationship with Shuster. The reauthorization of the FAA could be an early test.

The reauthorization bill could be a fairly bipartisan affair. Tuesday’s hearing featured plenty of disagreement but didn’t suggest an impasse. “This is going to be very, very high on [Shuster’s] agenda,” DeFazio said. “I think the problems in aviation are soluble.”

The current authorization expires at the end of the year.  If lawmakers make progress on the FAA relatively quickly next year, it could give them momentum to tackle the trickier highway bill by May.

On the Spending Side. The question remains whether appropriators will try to push through an omnibus bill or settle for a continuing resolution. President Barack Obama’s immigration announcement continues to tie Republicans in knots, making it difficult for appropriators to wrap up work.

Outgoing Transportation-HUD Subcommittee Chairman Tom Latham, R-Iowa, has said he is working with his Senate counterparts to resolve outstanding issue between the House subcommittee bill (HR 4745) and the Senate’s (S 2438). One concern appears to be the spending levels for TIGER grants and the policy restrictions surrounding them.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., meanwhile, is getting ready to take over the subcommittee’s gavel next year. “It is of utmost importance that we prioritize transportation initiatives that will improve our local communities, while also providing housing solutions for those most in need,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement.

Airline Battle. The fight over Norwegian Airlines’ proposed low-cost carrier simmers on. Roll Call’s Tom Curry attended a meeting with Norwegian Air CEO Bjorn Kjos, who made his case for the Department of Transportation to sign off on the company’s application to operate the new Ireland-based airline, Norwegian Air International, between the United States and Europe.

The application has been pending for months and transportation officials don’t have a deadline to rule, but Kjos is getting impatient, saying the delay is a violation of an open skies agreement between the United States and the European Union.

“Transatlantic flights are the last cartel,” he said.

U.S. airlines and labor unions want the government to deny the application, arguing that NAI is skirting tax and labor rules by incorporating in Ireland. Members of the Air Line Pilots Association swarmed the Hill in their sharply-creased uniforms Wednesday urging lawmakers to attach language to the upcoming spending bill to bar the airline’s request.

Last modified on November 27, 2014

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