Transportation Bill Deadline

Transportation Bill Deadline, 11/16/15 10:00 AM EST

TRANSPORTATION NEGOTIATORS WORK DOWN TO THE DEADLINE: Congressional leaders have just five days now to either reach bicameral consensus on a sweeping transportation funding plan or to again buy themselves time with a short-term policy patch. Because the Highway Trust Fund isn’t dangerously depleted just yet, a brief extension probably wouldn’t be so hard to pass. But the transportation-focused lawmakers trying to move this multiyear deal are unlikely to publicly throw up their hands just yet – hoping to keep the pressure on for making progress in the next few days, even if they’re unable to get a final bill off to the president by Friday’s deadline.

Fallback plan: Glancing at this week’s House schedule, our Kathryn A. Wolfe reports that leaders in the lower chamber have put lawmakers on notice of “possible consideration of a short-term extension to the Highway Trust Fund” today. But House aides have said that’s “just in case.” On 60 Minutes over the weekend, newly seated House Speaker Paul Ryan said that “if we can find common ground, we can on highways, we will on funding the government, hopefully we can on tax policy.”

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FOXX MAKES LAST-DITCH FUNDING PLEA: Emerging from a weeklong recess, the transportation conferees named in both chambers earlier this month haven’t yet had a chance to hold a formal meeting. And those trying to influence the process are still submitting their concerns. From DOT, the secretary himself has sent a letter to House T&I leaders, asking that they work with the administration to raise overall funding. “While the Senate version importantly provides an increase over current funding levels,” Secretary Anthony Foxx writes, “even more is needed to reverse the declining condition of our surface transportation system and enable real improvement.”

Laundry list: Foxx specifically asks for funding and authority for the TIGER grant program, as well as a bump in money for TIFIA loans DOT uses to finance road, rail and other surface transportation projects. He commends the Senate for including a rail title in its version, plus $199 million to help commuter railroads install positive train control technology. And he warns that the House bill doesn’t kick in enough funding for administrative activities.

Safety qualms: Both chambers’ versions, Foxx says, “contain several highly objectionable provisions that would undermine the safety of the Nation’s transportation system.” The safety issues the secretary cites: prohibitions preventing states from using federal funding to enforce motorcycle helmet laws, language he says would limit DOT’s ability to recall dangerous rental cars and Senate provisions that would allow states to decrease mandatory jail requirements for repeat DUI offenders.

IT’S MONDAY: Good morning and thanks for tuning into POLITICO’s Morning Transportation, your daily tipsheet on all things trains, planes, automobiles and ports.


Today – Rep. John Katko holds a press conference at his district office in Syracuse to talk about a legislative response to preventing terrorist attacks like Friday’s massacre in Paris. Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez plans to turn out for a Capitol Hill awards ceremony hosted by the Roadway Safety Foundation and the Federal Highway Administration to recognize innovative highway safety efforts.

Tuesday – A House Homeland Security subcommittee holds a hearing on TSA’s screening partnership program. A House T&I panel and a House Agriculture subcommittee hold a joint hearing on maritime transportation’s role in international food aid programs.

The NTSB meets to discuss a 2014 median crossover collision in Oklahoma. The National Business Aviation Association hosts a convention and expo.

Wednesday – The Senate Commerce Committee marks up a “Pilot Bill of Rights” measure. The House Oversight Subcommittee on Information Technology holds a hearing titled “The Internet of Cars,” with testimony from a top NHTSA official and executives from GM, Toyota and Tesla.

The FRA holds a meeting of the Northeast Corridor Safety Advisory Committee. PHMSA hosts a workshop on the National Pipeline Mapping System. The Hudson Institute hosts a discussion on the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor network of roads, railways, pipelines and other infrastructure projects.

Thursday – A House Energy and Commerce subcommittee holds a hearing on evolving uses and economic impacts of drones. FMCSA hosts a teleconference meeting of the board of directors for the Unified Carrier Registration Plan.

Friday – TSA holds a meeting of the Aviation Security Advisory Committee. Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, as well as Rep. John Carney and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, speak at a General Aviation Manufacturers Association jobs rally in the Diamond State.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration holds a meeting on drones, focusing on privacy and transparency. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission holds an advisory committee meeting to discuss spent fuel storage and transportation.

McCAUL CITES WATCH LISTS, VISA WAIVER AMONG TERRORISM CONCERNS: Weighing in on the U.S. security implications of Friday’s attacks in Paris, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul has been driving home his concerns about the ease with which foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq can slip back into European countries that are a flight away from the United States. During interviews on both Fox News and NBC’s Meet the Press this weekend, the chairman mentioned international watch list checks and the Visa Waiver program the United States uses to allow citizens from 38 countries to apply for visa-free travel to the United States. “You can fly in from Istanbul Airport in Turkey, where the foreign fighters go, and not even be checked past the watch list going into Europe,” McCaul told NBC. “And then when you talk about Visa Wavier countries that can potentially come in the United States with Western passports, that’s where the homeland gets implicated.”

Refugee routes: While investigators have yet to confirm the roots of the men who perpetrated Friday’s bombings and shooting sprees, reports out of Europe claim that at least one of the attackers used refugee status to travel from Syria to Greece and then on to France. In a bipartisan report McCaul’s committee released in September on foreign fighter travel, a panel task force suggested that “extremists who blend in with asylum-seekers and make their way onto the continent could easily obtain European passports within a few short years and have visa-free access to the United States. While the scenario is not the likeliest route for terrorist travel, it is certainly possible, especially since terrorist groups have vowed to exploit weaknesses in refugee routes.”

** A message from CIT: CIT View from the Middleâ„¢ – Aviation infrastructure is at a critical juncture now that Congress passed a temporary measure to reauthorize funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. This video, Runways to Riches: The Importance of Aviation Infrastructure to the Global Economy, explores aviation industry issues. Watch now at **

SAFETY LEADERS TICK OFF ISSUES: Hinting that safety proposals for the multiyear transportation plan could be a deal-breaker for some senators, 13 of the chamber’s Democrats have sent a letter asking thier chamber’s leaders to “prevent any rollback of safety or consumer protections” during conference negotiations. As we explained for Pros, the lawmakers warn that action is needed to fend off House changes “in order to avoid any potential erosion of support for the final bill.” Off the Hill, a coalition more than 200 strong has voiced complaints with proposed safety language as well. Our Heather Caygle reports that, “in a letter sent to House and Senate conferees, the groups urged lawmakers to walk back several provisions dealing with the trucking, bus and auto industries before a final bill makes it to the president’s desk.”

SECURITY OFFICIALS WEIGH U.S. RISK AMID PARIS ATTACKS: U.S. intelligence officials have been working since Friday’s multi-venue massacre in France to figure out whether the United States could be the target of a linked attack. And while the Department of Homeland Security has said there’s “no specific or credible threat,” security experts say the U.S. is far from immune to this scale of terrorism, as we reported over the weekend. The risk is especially concerning to those in the transportation sector, since – as we saw with the downing this month of a Russian plane in Egypt – it’s clear that ISIL leaders (like their al Qaeda counterparts) see transportation modes (and planes in particular) as high-value targets.

SHARE A RIDE, SAVE THE PLANET? Our Lauren Gardner reports that NRDC and UC Berkeley are teaming up on a first-of-its-kind research project to look into the climate impacts of ride-hailing resources like Uber and Lyft. The study, which the groups aim to publish next fall, will examine the effects that both ride-sourcing (ordering a Lyft to get to that dinner res) and ride-splitting (like Uber’s new “pool” option to let drivers pick up others along a route for a lower fare) affect climate change. Researchers will collect data from surveys taken by Uber and Lyft users (who will get emails from the companies asking them to participate), as well as information about customers’ ride activity, like ride origin, occupancy level and type of vehicle being used, said Susah Shaheen, UC Berkeley’s lead on the study.

The researchers plan to cast a wide net. They want to see whether this impacts consumers’ decisions to postpone buying (or even just get rid of) their personal vehicles, as well as whether the availability of Uber and Lyft siphon customers away from public transit systems – and thus put more carbon-emitting cars on the road.

MT MAILBAG: A group of 18 senators from Northeastern states has joined to give transportation bill negotiators another nudge to nix House-passed language that would cut into transit funding for high-density regions in order to provide more money for bus programs and facilities. “While many of us support the concept of increasing funding for a discretionary grant program for bus and bus facilities, it makes no sense to slash existing commitments to transit agencies to do so,” the senators wrote to conferees. “The urban areas negatively impacted by the House provision face unparalleled congestion that cannot be addressed by building new highway infrastructure alone.”


– A lot of what passes for security at airports is more theatrical than real. The Economist.

– Airplane Wi-Fi should soon be somewhat less awful. Bloomberg Business.

– Industry pushes to shape transportation law. The Associated Press.

– Marchers warn of safety crisis amid spate of pedestrian deaths. The New York Times.

– Quiet U.S. ports spark slowdown fears. The Wall Street Journal.

THE COUNTDOWN: Highway and transit policy expires in 5 days. DOT appropriations run out in 28 days. FAA reauthorization expires in 137 days. The 2016 presidential election is in 357 days.

Spike Lee Calls For Diversity

Spike Lee Calls For Diversity, Spike Lee told an audience of entertainment luminaries that it’s easier for a black person to become President of the United States than head of a Hollywood studio or network.

Lee made the remarks Saturday as he accepted an Oscar statuette at the film academy’s seventh annual Governors Awards dinner in Hollywood, where Gena Rowlands and Debbie Reynolds were also honorees.

“We need to have some serious discussions about diversity and get some flavor up in this,” Lee said. “This industry is so behind sports it’s ridiculous.”

The filmmaker praised Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Cheryl Boone Isaacs for “trying to do something that needs to be done.” Earlier in the evening, Isaacs called on the industry powers in attendance to take action toward “recognizing and embracing a broad cross-section of talent.” She also announced the academy’s new five-year plan to improve diversity in its staff and governance.

Isaacs opened the Governors Awards ceremony with condolences for France in the wake of the terrorist attacks.

“All of us here stand in solidarity and support of France and the French people,” she said. “Our connection with the film-loving French is especially deep.”

Lee offered “peace and love to people in France” as he received his award. Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes and Samuel L. Jackson brought the filmmaker onstage for his Oscar.

“Spike Lee has put more African-Americans to work in this business than anyone else in this business,” Washington said in his introduction.

Cate Blanchett and Laura Linney each paid tribute to Rowlands, calling her a trailblazer and inspiration. The 85-year-old actress, whose career spans six decades, received her Oscar from her son, Nick Cassavettes, who directed his mother in 2004’s “The Notebook.” He noted that the award was “the first Oscar in the family.”

Looking lovingly at the golden trophy, Rowlands thanked the academy governors for “introducing me to this fine fellow.”

“He’s very handsome,” she said. “You know, he’s just so elegant… I think I’ll take him home.”

Reynolds received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep introduced the 83-year-old entertainer, who announced Friday that she would be unable to attend the ceremony.

Reynolds was recognized for her decades-long commitment to various charities, including the mental health organization she founded, the Thalians. Her granddaughter accepted Reynolds’ statuette.

A live band played throughout the evening, and there were two musical interludes: Zooey Deschanel performed the Oscar-nominated song Reynolds sang in 1958’s “Tammy and the Bachelor.” Aloe Blacc sang “A Change is Gonna Come” as part of Lee’s introduction.

Other famous faces at the starry dinner included Johnny Depp and wife Amber Heard, Daniel Craig and wife Rachel Weisz, Will Smith, Ice Cube, Mark Ruffalo, Quentin Tarantino, Saoirse Ronan and Michael Caine. Portions of the untelevised ceremony may be included in the 2016 Academy Awards telecast.

‘Sister Wives’ star expecting: Robyn Brown Kody Brown

‘Sister Wives’ star expecting: Robyn Brown Kody Brown, ‘Sister Wives’ star Meri Brown dramatically revealed deep loneliness caused her to have an online affair. Now husband Kody Bown and sister-wife Robyn are ready to show how loved she is by possibly naming their unborn baby after her, can EXCLUSIVELY report.

Meri Brown, 44, shocked her Sister Wives family when she admitted she’d been the victim of “catfishing” on the season finale, which airs on TLC Nov. 15. Meri sat down with Kody Brown and her sister wives to divulge what really went down during her online love connection, admitting she did it because she was so lonely. Now all is forgiven and not only has her family come together in support, has learned EXCLUSIVELY that Kody and pregnant Robyn Brown are considering naming their new daughter after Meri. How sweet!

Following lonely Meri’s catfishing scandal, “They’ve all vowed to make sure she never feels that way again, since she came clean the whole family has rallied around her to show their love. There’s even been talk about naming the new baby girl after her. It would be a tribute to her, to let her know how important she still is,” source tells EXCLUSIVELY. What an honor that would be.

“Meri would love it if they name the baby after her, it would show her that they’ve truly forgiven her and maybe then she’d be able to forgive herself,” our source continued. Meri admitted that she’d sought out love online in early 2015, only to later find out that the man she thought she was developing feelings for turned out to be a woman in Oklahoma who was catfishing her.

There’s another reason that Robyn and Kody should feel thankful for Meri. She made the gut-wrenching sacrifice to legally divorce her husband in early 2015, paving the way for Kody to tie the knot with Robyn in more than just a spiritual sense. Meri’s decision meant that Kody could formally adopt Robyn’s three children from her first marriage. Sadly, Robyn’s first husband rarely saw the children and paid nothing for their support. Now her kids receive insurance and benefits since Kody is now legally their dad.

Actress gets flirty with co-star: Kaley Cuoco Johnny Galecki

Actress gets flirty with co-star: Kaley Cuoco Johnny Galecki, When “The Voice” co-stars Blake Shelton and Gwen Stefani divorced their respective partners Miranda Lambert and Gavin Rossdale earlier this year, they denied up and down they were dating each other – until they finally admitted they were.

When Kaley Cuoco divorced her husband, tennis player Ryan Sweeting, at about the same time, she and her ex-boyfriend and “Big “Bang” co-star Johnny Galecki denied up and down they were dating, too.

But could they really be the next Blake and Gwen?

The two took to Instagram on October 14th to try to put the romance rumors to rest.

Actress gets flirty with co-star: Kaley Cuoco Johnny Galecki

Actress gets flirty with co-star: Kaley Cuoco Johnny Galecki, It seems that “The Big Bang Theory” stars Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki might follow Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton. Read on for more details.

According to Mail Online, Cuoco divorced her husband Ryan Sweeting, tennis player, last September. The primary reason behind their divorce was reported to be Sweeting’s failure to get sober, as he was addicted to prescribed painkillers after his back surgery.

In the mean time, the actress and her ex-boyfriend Johnny Galecki denied their reunion rumors. It looks like “The Big Bang Theory” stars might follow Shelton and Stefani by denying their relationship now and then admitting it later, according to a report by Fox News.

“The Voice” coaches Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton shocked everybody in the beginning of this year when the pair confirmed their budding relationship through their rep. Shelton and Stefani ignited their relationship rumors shortly after the divorce from their respective partners. The pair admitted their relationship after denying it for several times. Now, it is the turn for Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki, reports iSCHOOLGUIDE.

Cuoco and Galecki remained to be friends and starred together in “The Big Bang Theory” even after breaking up in 2010 after two years of dating. The pair denied their reunion rumors on Instagram, on October 14.

Now, it seems that the pair has become more than just friends as Galecki posted on Instagram, a “photo of himself biting Cuoco’s shoulder,” last weekend.

Hollywood Life reported that Shelton helped Stefani to come out the heartbreak after the divorce from her husband Gavin Rossdale. Is Galecki trying to help Cuoco to go through her divorce?


Pamela Anderson says she’s ‘cured': Pamela Anderson Hepatitis C

Pamela Anderson says she’s ‘cured': Pamela Anderson Hepatitis C, Six days after Pamela Anderson announced to the world that she’s finally ended her 16-year battle with Hepatitis C, the actress showed off her healthy glow in a sparkly black dress on the red carpet.

Anderson, 48, wore the shimmering number while attending the Bambi Awards 2015 in Berlin Thursday night.

Last Saturday, Anderson revealed that she had successfully completed her treatment for Hep C. The former Baywatch star started taking a new, FDA-approved drug this summer, which she says cured her.

“I am CURED!!! – I just found out #nomorehepc #thankyou #blessing #family #prayer #live,” Anderson announced through a sexy photo post on Instagram.

Reality star marries her longtime love: Tim Rosenman Whitney Port

Reality star marries her longtime love: Tim Rosenman Whitney Port, ICYMI: Whitney Port officially tied the knot to longtime beau Tim Rosenman in a romantic sunset ceremony in Palm Springs on November 7.

The City alum met her new husband on the set of the MTV show, and they’ve been inseparable since. After becoming husband and wife last week, the adorable pair jetted off to Fiji for a tropical honeymoon.

In typical Whitney fashion, the 30-year-old has been keeping us up to date on their intimate vacay with social media over the past week — she even admitted to bringing a selfie stick!
We really hope this isn’t the case.

Following the news that Charlie Sheen will sit down with Matt Lauer on Tuesday morning to divulge some very personal information, speculation over the actor’s health reached an all time high.

Sheen’s abnormal absence from social media (the father of three hasn’t tweeted since October 28) and his lack of public appearances have understandably caused fans to worry.

Star steps out with soon-to-be ex?: Halle Berry Olivier Martinez

Star steps out with soon-to-be ex?: Halle Berry Olivier Martinez, Halle Berry is NOT “worried” Olivier Martinez will do a “tell-all,” despite a report. Gossip Cop can correct the story, which comes from one of the tabloids. We’re told there’s no truth to the claim.

According to Life & Style, Berry is “absolutely petrified” that Martinez “will do a tell-all interview and reveal her secrets.” The magazine alleges the actress “has threatened to fight for full custody” of their son Maceo “if Olivier dishes the dirt, but that may not stop him.” Money is said to be a factor, as it’s claimed “he can get $1 million to spill the beans on Halle and their relationship.”

“He’s desperate for cash and is worried he won’t get much from Halle because of their prenuptial agreement,” a so-called “source” tells the tabloid. “She’s convinced Olivier will try to ruin her.” Does any of this sound familiar?

It should. Life & Style has a long history of falsely claiming “Star X” is “worried” about a “tell-all” after breaking up with “Star Y.” This kind of story was used for Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries in 2011, Jennifer Lopez and Casper Smart last year, Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber earlier this year, and Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick in August. And not one of these “tell-alls” has ever come to fruition.

Life & Style is now just applying its same story template to Berry and Martinez, and using the recent tweets from Berry’s exes David Justice and Eric Benet to bolster its claims. But like the magazine’s past “tell-all” allegations, it’s all just tabloid fiction and not based at all in reality. In actuality, Berry and Martinez will likely have a confidentiality agreement restricting what they can say in the press.

But even that aside, a trusted insider tell Gossip Cop, “They wouldn’t do such a thing to each other.” Only Life & Style would.