T&I Committee Takes Turn Toward Partisanship with Markup of Pipeline Bill
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Majority today passed a handful of partisan bills, marking a notable departure in the Committee’s proven model for successfully accomplishing its Members’ shared goals of improving the Nation’s infrastructure by working across the aisle.
“The Committee Majority had an opportunity today to do what the American people expect us to do – advance legislation that we have worked on together for the good of the Nation’s infrastructure. Unfortunately, they failed to do that,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-MO). “The most disappointing fact about today’s partisan markup is that if Republicans had been offered the chance to work on these bills with our colleagues in the Majority, we could have produced legislation that every Member of the Committee supported.
“A perfect example of this turn towards partisanship is the pipeline safety reauthorization bill that passed today,” Graves continued. “Past pipeline safety reauthorization laws, including in 2011 and 2016, were the result of successful collaboration between Committee Republicans and Democrats. Regrettably, today’s approved bill doesn’t reflect that bipartisan tradition. Instead it places the far left’s agenda over the safety and efficiency of the world’s largest network of pipelines. It is my hope the Majority does not follow this same partisan process for the important work the Committee must still do on reauthorizing surface transportation programs and passing a critical water resources bill.”
At today’s markup, Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Ranking Member Rick Crawford (R-AR) offered as an amendment a reasonable and pragmatic alternative pipeline safety bill that he and Ranking Members Sam Graves recently introduced. That measure, the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2019, reauthorizes the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for four years and includes many provisions that were conceived in a bipartisan manner and have significant stakeholder support.
The Crawford-Graves pipeline safety bill, offered today as an amendment, received bipartisan support but was not adopted. On the other hand, the underlying partisan pipelines bill offered by the Majority – although it was approved with only Democrat votes at the markup – received bipartisan opposition.
Read more about The Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2019, including the bill’s significant stakeholder support, here.
In another example of the partisan nature of today’s markup, the Committee also approved a foreign repair station bill that unilaterally imposes U.S. law on Federal Aviation Administration-certificated repair stations in foreign countries, regardless of their compatibility with foreign laws, and prohibits new foreign repair station certificates until new and burdensome regulations are enacted. The bill was criticized and opposed by numerous aviation industry stakeholders.
Again, Republicans were not involved in the drafting of the approved bill, but Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Member Garret Graves (R-LA) offered a substitute that would achieve the same goal of improving foreign repair station safety by working toward global solutions, but without threatening U.S. jobs or placing the United States in violation of international agreements. The amendment was defeated.
Ranking Member Sam Graves added, “Our Committee’s roadmap for success has always been working together to pass bipartisan bills that can gain broad support. I hope the Committee can return to its bipartisan roots, because it works and it’s necessary if we are going to successfully improve infrastructure across America.”
More information from today’s markup is available here.