New Key Congressional Players for Transportation Issues

 Sen. John Thune (R-S.D) is the new chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

New Key Congressional Players for Transportation Issues

With the 114th Congress turning its attention to a variety of issues, including transportation, Kieth Laing of thehill.com has identified five key players who will be involved in debates including funding for highway, aviation and rail funding. 

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) – Thune is the new chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Thune has expressed an interest in issues related to the federal government’s regulation of freight trains that carry crude oil.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) – Inhofe is the new chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which will have a large role in crafting any new highway bill that passes Congress in the next two years. The current transportation funding bill is scheduled to expire in May. Inhofe worked closely with former Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on the last multiyear transportation bill that passed Congress, a two-year, $109 billion measure that was approved in 2012 and extended temporarily last summer. 

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) – DeFazio is the new top ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. DeFazio has been vocal about the lack of a transportation funding increase in recent years, and he has pushed for replacing the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax with an oil barrel tax to raise the additional road revenue. DeFazio is taking over for former Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W. Va.), who was defeated in his bid for an 18th term in Congress during last November’s elections. 

National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Mark Rosekind – Rosekind is the new chief of the highway safety agency, which has come under fire from lawmakers for its oversight of widespread recalls at auto companies like General Motors and Japan’s Takata. Rosekind, who was confirmed by the Senate in December, will be tasked with repairing the highway safety agency’s image on Capitol Hill as Republicans promise to probe its handling of both GM and Takata’s problems. 

President Obama’s eventual TSA pick – The Transportation Security Administration is starting off 2015 with an acting administrator, Melvin Carraway. Long-time TSA chief John Pistole stepped down from the agency after nearly five years at the helm of the controversial agency. Carraway was appointed Deputy TSA Administrator in July 2014. Prior to his appointment, Carraway served as the agency’s Federal Security Director at the Albuquerque, N.M. International Airport. President Obama has not yet named a permanent replacement for Pistole.

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