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June 26, 2017 11:00 PM, EDT
Capitol Agenda for the Week of June 27: Like? Haha? Wow? Sad?
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg with a trucker Mark Zuckerberg visits with a trucker (via Facebook.com/zuck)

A Harvard dropout whose life was the subject of a hyped Hollywood flick for his “accomplishment” of bringing Facebook to our consciousness left his tech “bubble” last week. During a road trip across the Midwest, billionaire Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg checked out the Iowa 80 truck stop in Walcott, as part of a yearlong tour of the country to interact with the nonbillionaire class. This road trip, and others along red states, fueled speculation about the possibility of a Zuckerberg ticket for the White House in 2020.

In Iowa, the online guru’s observations of the men and women who move nearly three-quarters of the country’s freight along our highways ranged from obvious to Alice recounting what she found through the looking glass.

For instance, Zuckerberg quipped in a Facebook post that at the truck stop, “truckers on long trips can take a break, get something to eat, get a haircut, do laundry, get their truck washed.” Yeah, no duh.

After asking about regulations, he wrote, “When the truckers I met started driving, you logged your driving hours on pieces of paper. Now it’s electronic and automatic, which makes it harder to drive more hours than you’re supposed to.”

On the issue of self-driving trucks: “Everyone I met was skeptical self-driving trucks would replace jobs for different reasons. Some thought it would be impossible to pack all the sensors you need to deal with things like weather into trucks. Others thought computers could handle the interstate but not the last mile to the store. And some truckers think we’ll end up with something like autopilot on planes with trucks driving themselves with people in the cab.”

Mark Zuckerberg chats with a driver at the Iowa 80 truck stop (Facebook.com/zuck)

And Zuckerberg’s takeaway for passenger car occupants: “Next time you’re annoyed by a truck on the road, just know that they probably feel the same way about you.”

The next time the world’s fifth-richest person dispatches from a truck stop, we’d like to arrange a guest column. His endearment for the industry came off as genuine. If so, Zuckerberg should make the trip to Louisville next year for the Mid-America Trucking Show.

THE WEEK AHEAD (all times EDT):

June 27, 8:30 a.m.: The U.S. Energy and Information Administration holds its energy conference.

June 27, 9 a.m.: The Executive Office of the President and the Office of the United States Trade Representative hold a hearing on negotiating objectives regarding modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.

June 27, 9:30 a.m.: The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee holds a hearing on the proposed budget estimates in fiscal 2018 for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

June 27, 10 a.m.: The House Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection Subcommittee meets for a hearing on “Self Driving Vehicle Legislation.”

June 27, 11 a.m.: National Academy of Sciences unveils report on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program.

June 28, 9 a.m.: The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration holds a meeting of the Household Goods Consumer Protection Working Group.

June 28, 10 a.m.: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee holds a hearing on the nomination of Steven Bradbury to be general counsel of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

TRUCK CHAMPIONSHIPS: State-level championships are coming to a quick close with the winners poised to move on to the National Truck Driving Championships in August. New Jersey, Oregon and Arkansas are the states with qualifiers left.

XPO: The logistics firm honored drivers with at least 1 million accident-free miles at a two-day celebration in Ann Arbor, Mich., in mid-June, including a question-and-answer session hosted by company CEO Brad Jacobs. In total, 890 XPO drivers have traveled more than 1 million miles without a crash, 19 of which went at least 3 million miles and received a special honor. When combined, the 890 amass more than 1 billion miles without a crash. The less-than-truckload division has 12,575 drivers.

LaMALFA: Legislation that would repeal the 12% federal excise tax on certain heavy-duty trucks, tractors and trailers was unveiled this week by Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.). The repeal would apply to the retail sale of trucking equipment. “The excessive 12% federal excise tax on heavy trucks adds tens of thousands of dollars to truck purchases and directly impacts the cost of food, consumer goods and other products Americans need,” LaMalfa said.

BUZZ:

Even though stakeholders had asked his office to provide an update on infrastructure funding, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) deliberately chose not to bring up the topic at the National Association of Manufacturers annual summit June 20.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Not surprisingly, MSNBC is not a fan of Trump’s infrastructure proposal.

FAVORITE QUOTE:

“At this White House, with deregulation, with the efforts that we’ve made rolling back excessive red tape, with doing the kind of work that we’ve done to promote American energy and to reform workforce education in America — that’s what President Trump just calls a good start. If you haven’t noticed, the American people also elected a builder to be the 45th president of the United States. And I’ll make you a promise: Before we’re done in 7½ years, President Donald Trump is going to rebuild the infrastructure of the United States of America.”

— Vice President Mike Pence at the National Association of Manufacturers annual summit June 20.

FAVORITE VIDEO:

America’s favorite structurally deficient bridge, the Brent Spence, is back in the spotlight.

FAVORITE TWEET:

Have no fear, it’s in the works.

Thanks for reading Capitol Agenda. We publish Tuesdays when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow us @eugenemulero and @transporttopics.