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November 27, 2017 4:00 PM, EST
Capitol Agenda for the Week of Nov. 27: Congress’ End-of-the-Year Tasks
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (left), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (left) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are among congressional Republican leaders who are urging the passage of tax reform legislation before the end of the year. (PBS News Hour via YouTube)

With December fast approaching, congressional leaders are rushing to finalize an ambitious to-do list that includes tax reform, funding for the federal government, immigration policy and disaster relief for regions struck by hurricanes.

On the overhaul of the tax code, it’s the Senate’s turn to kick off a debate on the chamber’s floor. Freight stakeholders are closely watching the bill, which includes an infrastructure financing tool key to advancing big-ticket projects. The House-passed version would eliminate it.

Once Congress delivers a tax legislation to the president’s desk, senior administration officials insist they will turn their focus to infrastructure funding negotiations. A 70-page document is guiding their discussions with transportation leaders on Capitol Hill, governors and industry leaders. But waiting nearly a year for President Donald Trump’s infrastructure package is testing the patience of policymakers and groups that represent the freight industry. Sources tell Transport Topics if the administration drags its feet early next year on infrastructure, the authorizing committees very likely will consider a measure that might not even reflect the 10-year, $1 trillion mark advocated by Trump.

Alongside the debate on taxes, Democrats will advocate for the prevention of young Dreamers from deportation. And that issue will consume many lawmakers’ attention as they hammer out a way to keep the government funded beyond a Dec. 8 deadline. The prospects for opting for a short-term stopgap measure that would maintain current funding levels increases by the day. And disaster relief aid unlikely to reflect the request from representatives from hurricane-affected areas will be linked to a must-pass bill before adjournment.

THE WEEK AHEAD (all times ET)

Nov. 28, 8:30 a.m.: The National Transportation Safety Board meets to review the highway accident report involving a bus and a truck near St. Marks, Fla., on July 2, 2016.

Nov. 28, 10 a.m.: The Woodrow Wilson Center’s Latin American Program hosts Argentine Transportation Minister Guillermo Dietrich.

Nov. 29-30: The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration meets on the Voluntary Information-Sharing System Working Group.

Nov. 29, 11 a.m.: The House Small Business Committee holds a hearing to examine commercial trucking regulations.

Nov. 30, 3 p.m.: The House Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee examines disaster relief funding proposals. Federal Highway Administration’s officials are scheduled to testify.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:

ELDs: To ease the trucking industry’s transition to the federal electronic logging device mandate, citations issued between Dec. 18 and April 1 for failure to comply with the new law will not be posted to motor carriers’ safety profiles. But carriers still could be fined, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials said Nov. 20. 

TESLA: Large for-hire carriers and major retailers are reserving their places in line to be among the first to test the all-electric Tesla Semi in their operations. 

VIVA LAS VEGAS: The Nevada Department of Transportation awarded a $65 million contract Nov. 13 to widen and modernize a 6-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 95 that runs through northwest Las Vegas.

BUZZ:

A vote in the Senate on the confirmation of FMCSA administrator will happen before the end of the year, sources tell us.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

In The Washington Post, Jared Kushner tells Ashley Parker, “During the campaign, I was more like a fox than a hedgehog.”

FAVORITE QUOTE:

Our $20 trillion national debt will continue to grow until we stop it with spending cuts, government reforms and a growing economy.

— Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who on Nov. 27 released a report titled, “Federal Fumbles: 100 ways the government dropped the ball.”

Federal Fumbles 2017 by Transport Topics on Scribd

FAVORITE VIDEO:

On Fox News Sunday on Nov. 26, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-S.D.) defended the GOP tax bill and addressed concerns about a government shutdown.

FAVORITE TWEET:

“Cyber Monday” from Truck That’s perspective:

Capitol Agenda publishes when Congress is in session. E-mail emulero@ttnews.com with tips. Follow @eugenemulero and @transporttopics on Twitter.