Washington Waves
Washington Waves

Senate Committee Chair Sets Transportation Bill Goals

Washington, D.C.—Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the recently installed chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, set Memorial Day as the goal for getting the next transportation reauthorization bill out of his committee.

Carper also laid out a list of principles for that measure such as coming up with a way to pay for it without adding to the national debt.

He specifically mentioned a user-pay feature and a Vehicle Miles Traveled approach, conceding it would require several “bridge” funding mechanisms for that to work.

Funding such bills clearly remains a major challenge for Congress.

Both Carper and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the panel’s ranking member, recalled the bill the committee passed unanimously last Congress only to see it fail to get a Senate vote.

That measure included a number of provisions important to the waterways industry.

Adding another word of caution for the upcoming bill, Capito warned that the strong bipartisan support that usually exists for transportation bills will not extend to a multi-trillion dollar package stocked full with ideologically driven, one-size-fits-all policies.

Fortifying Supply Chains

Transportation was one of six key sectors President Joe Biden included in an executive order calling for a long-term review to come up with recommendations to fortify the nation’s critical supply chains.

“The American people should never face shortages in the goods and services they rely on, whether that’s their car or their prescription medicines or the food at the local grocery store,” Biden said.

“Resilient, diverse and secure supply chains are going to help revitalize our domestic manufacturing capacity and create good-paying jobs.”

Defense, public health, information and communication technology, energy, agricultural and food production were the other sectors included in the order.

Biden also ordered 100-day reviews of four vital products: semiconductors, key minerals including rare earths, pharmaceuticals and their ingredients and large-capacity batteries.

‘Build Back’ Tax Hikes

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said tax hikes would be needed to pay for Biden’s much-anticipated Build Back Better package of infrastructure, clean energy that addresses climate change, education and training.

“The parts that are permanent will be paid for in order to not raise long-term deficits,” Yellen told CNBC.

She could not provide a price tag, explaining that while different elements of such a package have been discussed, details have not been decided.

Yellen said she expects the package to be proposed later this year with the spending and investments in the various areas to continue over a number of years.

Tax increases to fund the package would probably phase in over some time, she said.

Such a package is needed, Yellen said, to get the economy back to full employment by next year.

New Civil Works Post

The National Waterways Conference (NWC) said the Biden administration plans to name Jaime Pinkham as the new principal deputy assistant secretary of the Army (PDASA) (Civil Works).

 NWC said it was basing its news alert on unnamed sources.

Currently the executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in Oregon, Pinkham is a citizen of the Nez Perce Tribe and has served as a tribal official.

He has served on numerous conservation boards such as The Wilderness Society and American Rivers.

NWC noted the PDASA helps the assistant secretary of the Army oversee the civil works portfolio of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

So far, the administration has not filled the assistant secretary post, which requires Senate confirmation.

Levee Safety

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is releasing a revised draft version of its Levee Safety Engineer Circular (EC) and is accepting public comments through March 21.

Comments should be sent to EC218@usace.army.mil.

“The Engineer Circular has been updated to fit the required format for USACE guidance,” the agency explained.

“No significant changes have been made to content since the version shared in October 2020. Reviewers should focus their attention on the appendices, which are new.”  

The agency said the appendices, which provide another level of detail for the guidance, can be found on pages 35 to 101.

“While they do not provide procedures for implementing the program, they provide important context for [the Corps] and levee sponsors who will work together to implement the program,” the agency explained.

“We encourage the public to review these appendices.”

The EC is expected to be posted at https://www.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Levee-Safety-Program/ in the coming days.

In its statement on the document, the National Waterways Conference (NWC) also focused on appendices, saying they include information the agency and levee sponsors will need for risk assessments.

Citing the agency, NWC states the document is “an attempt at more plain language, incorporating suggestions such as an appeals process for risk assessment findings, a flexible inspection process that recognizes one size doesn’t fit all for frequency of inspections and a much greater focus on partnership and relationships with our non-federal sponsors.”

NWC said the agency states it also is developing training materials/sessions for non-federal sponsors to manage levees.


The Coast Guard has published Marine Safety Information Bulletin 03-21 “Continued Awareness—Active Exploitation of SolarWinds Software” as it continues to remediate the ongoing threat posed by the cyber incident.

According to the recently established Cyber Unified Coordination Group, the compromise of the SolarWinds Orion supply chains affected approximately 18,000 public and private sector customers with a smaller subset of that group targeted with follow-on activity.

“Even if you do not own SolarWinds Orion, you may be impacted as your third-party networks, services and vendors may use SolarWinds Orion,” a blog for mariners stated.

“It is critical that the Coast Guard understands the potential risks of this APT actor on marine transportation system networks and supply chain connections.”

For additional information, contact the Coast Guard Cyber Command 24×7 watch at 202-372-2904 or CyberWatch@uscg.mil.

Cyber Risk Management

A Coast Guard office has updated the Vessel Cyber Risk Management Work Instruction to include a compliance timeline for NonSafety Management System vessels that are subject to the Marine Transportation Safety Act of 2002.

These vessels are required to address cybersecurity vulnerabilities within their Vessel Security Assessment no later than December 31, according to a blog for mariners.

The Work Instruction and other information can be found at the Coast Guard Office of Commercial Vessel Compliance (CG-CVC) Mission Management System (MMS) website.