Stone, Sand & Gravel Review - January/February 2009 - (Page 29)

New President, New Congress by Pamela J. Whitted NSSGA Vice President, Government Affairs he November elections are history and the job of leading and legislating now begins. The 111th Congress was sworn in on Jan. 5. The new Congress will remain in session through January working on an economic stimulus and simultaneously naming the new committee chairmen and members. The new line-ups in the Senate and House are more Democratic. The new president has stressed the importance of burying partisanship in order to make progress and, at this juncture, the Democratic-controlled Congress seems willing to join him in moving forward to economic recovery as the first priority goal of the Obama administration. Congressional Republicans recognize that they have lost their brand and must reinvent themselves. We can expect that on economic issues they will continue to support less government spending. T he econom ic meltdown has ensured that top on the agenda of the new president and Congress is trying to set the economic ship of state on a steady course again. Democrats have included in an economic stimulus package a significant “ready-to-go” transportation infrastructure component in order to create jobs and make needed improvements in our roads and highways, which will increase safety and enhance environmental protection. Of course, the current surface transportation authorization, SAFETEALU, expires the end of September. The degree by which stimulus action on transportation impacts the demand for reauthorization is unknown, but NSSGA and our allies continue to stress What’s on the Agenda? T the urgency of both for this nation’s economy and competitiveness. The leaders of both the Senate Environment and Public Works committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee (Sen. Barbar Boxer [D-Calif.] and Rep. James Oberstar [D-Minn.]) have expressed intentions to get a new bill passed by the expiration of the current law. Chairman Oberstar has indicated he plans to move a reauthorization bill by spring. Whether he can achieve consensus with the ranking committee Republican, John Mica (Fla.), is uncertain. Following this article is information on each of the “Big Four” in the House who will lead development of the next surface transportation bill in that chamber. On the Senate side, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Boxer has said she has been consulting over the past months with her “Big Four” on the principles for the next surface transportation bill. In addition to Boxer, other key transportation players in the Senate are: the senior Republican on the committee, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the chairman and senior Republican on the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee, Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), respectively. The chairman intends to call the bill MAP 21, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.” Key priorities for MAP 21 are: efficient movement of goods and people, safety and clean air. NSSGA and its coalition partners moved quickly together to secure the inclusion in economic stimulus of funding for surface transportation. Simultaneously, NSSGA and its Transportation Construction Coalition and Americans for Transportation Mobility partners have been sharing their organizations’ recommendations for reauthorization (We recommend all financing options be on the table – from indexing user fees to new public -private partnerships to pay for the next bill.) and have begun working with the staffs on both sides of the Hill to advance a bill that will go toward meeting the needs of the system and developing sustainable funding for it. The 111th Congress first is expected to focus on unfinished business addressing economic issues including possible tax cuts aimed at middleincome earners and small businesses as advocated by President Obama, along with an economic stimulus package. Children’s Health Insurance Program funding and remaining FY ’09 appropriations are other issues that need to be taken up right away. A little further down the road, Congress will focus on the big-picture items, including health care insurance pools, the IRAQ war issues and other legislation that will fight for top attention, from reauthorization of the surface transportation law, energy and climate change legislation, to more tax reform. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) has said that these big-picture issues will be dealt with through the regular committee process. Although H o u s e Way s a n d M e a n s committee Chairman Charles Ra ngel ( D -N Y ) ci rculated what was called the “mother of 29 > Stone, Sand & Gravel Review, January/February 2009

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Stone, Sand & Gravel Review - January/February 2009

Stone, Sand & Gravel Review - January/February 2009
Events Calendar
Table of Contents
Legislative and Regulatory Calendar
AGGI: The Unofficial Guide
A Quick Guide to NSSGA's 2009 Annual Convention
New President, New Congress—What's on the Agenda?
Performance Optimization in an Existing Operation
Water Infiltration Mitigation Project at Clinton Point Quarry
The Human Element
Return on Investment: Committee Membership
Shaping Landscapes for Tomorrow
What Moves the Market? What Moves a Customer?
MSHA/NSSGA Rip & Share
Working the Web
NSSGA on the Road - CEMEX Davenport
Products & Services Guide
Buyers’ Guide Index

Stone, Sand & Gravel Review - January/February 2009