While Senator Johnson is a consistent advocate for reduced federal government spending across all areas of our economy, it’s clear there are a few areas in which federal investments should be prioritized: defense, science, drug and disease research, and transportation infrastructure. Airports, roads, bridges, locks and dams, ports and harbors — Senator Johnson agrees with those who argue that America’s once world-class transportation infrastructure system is slowly but surely crumbling. And in the face of this reality, Senator Johnson, like many in Congress, wants to investment in both maintaining and expanding our transportation system.
Notably, the Highway Trust Fund, funded by motorists through federal gas tax revenue, has a shortfall of approximately $15 billion. One possible solution Senator Johnson has raised is to ask appropriators to seriously scour each agency’s annual allocations to find lower priority spending. By identifying and shutting down programs that are repetitive or wasteful, Congress could direct the dollar-for-dollar savings towards higher-priority transportation infrastructure investments. Think about it: In a $3,700 billion annual federal budget, if the president and Congress can’t find $15 billion to reallocate into the Highway Trust Fund, then America’s transportation budget problems may be bound to continue.
During the past five years, Senator Johnson proudly supported several pieces of legislation that helped enhance all areas of our transportation infrastructure. Senator Johnson serves on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. With renewed and committed presidential and congressional leadership, bipartisan actions to increase America’s investment in transportation infrastructure programs can and should be achieved.
- Authored an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016 to prohibit the FAA from charging additional fees for large general aviation fly-in events, like EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, for air traffic controllers to work the towers.
- Supported final passage of the bipartisan FAA Reauthorization bill that provided federal funding for the FAA.
- Key provisions in the Senate’s FAA bill Senator Johnson sought include:
- General Aviation Protection – Includes the Commerce Committee-passed Pilot’s Bill of Rights II.
- Pilot Training Standards – Maintains current pilot training standards, and requires the prompt finalization of the long-delayed FAA rule to implement an electronic pilot record database.
- Drone Safety – Allows the FAA to implement a pilot project to serve as the basis for a future report on drone mitigation safety standards at America’s airports.
- Federal Contract Tower Program Protection – Continues the existence and strong funding of the program, and includes reforms to the program’s participation rules.
- Emergency Medical Equipment Enhancement – Directs the FAA to update current guidelines regarding the contents of emergency medical kits carried aboard airliners, so that they include epinephrine auto-injectors to combat allergic reactions.
- Signed a letter to Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson of the Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation requesting reform for the cost/benefit eligibility rules and process for the Federal Contract Tower Program to be included in the FAA reauthorization. Letter dated Feb. 23, 2016. Sent a similar letter dated March 13, 2015.
- Cosponsored the Pilot’s Bill of Rights II, S.571, in the 114th Congress.
- Signed a letter to the administrator of the FAA requesting information on the administration’s long-term strategy and plan for the Federal Contract Tower Program. Letter dated July 31, 2014.
- Signed a letter to the Department of Transportation (DOT) and FAA appealing to the department and agency to continue nonstop service between Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) in Madison and Washington. Letter dated Dec. 12, 2013.
- Signed a letter to Congressmen Petri and Ribble to encourage their efforts “to pass legislation to grandfather in the current weight limits on Wisconsin’s portion of U.S. Highway 41.” Letter dated June 13, 2013.
- Signed a letter to the administrator of the FAA requesting that the FAA provide air traffic services for the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture in Oshkosh without additional cost. Letter Dated June 6, 2013.
- Signed a letter to the administrator of the FAA on concerns of poor business management and planning for implementation of sequestration. Letter dated May 16, 2013.
- Signed a letter to the DOT and FAA urging the secretary and administrator to use recently approved funds to end furloughs of 47,000 FAA traffic controllers and continue the operation of 149 contract towers that otherwise were set to close. Letter dated May 2, 2013.
- Cosponsored the Pilot’s Bill of Rights, S. 1335 of the 112th Congress. Became law on Aug. 3, 2012.
- Cosponsored legislation to expedite the replacement of the St. Croix River bridge, S. 1134 of the 112th Congress, St. Croix River Crossing Project Authorization Act. Became law on March 14, 2012.
- As a member of the Northeast-Midwest Senate Coalition of the Great Lakes Task Force, Senator Johnson signed a letter to the Department of the Army and the Army Corps of Engineers urging the ACOE to spend $30 million from its budget on Great Lakes navigation infrastructure projects. Letter signed Feb. 7, 2014.
- Cosponsored the Harbor Maintenance Acts of 2011 and 2013, which designated money from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund to be used for harbor maintenance programs only and created requirements for the expenditures and receipts for the trust fund.
- Submitted amendments and supported H.R. 22, FAST Act, a bipartisan highway bill that reauthorized surface transportation program for the next six years and provides offset funding for projected shortfalls in the first three years. Became law Dec. 3, 2015. Specific provisions that benefit Wisconsin include:
- Improving the process for seeking federal permitting authorization for major infrastructure projects.
- Improving rules on carrying fluid milk so that fewer milk trucks would be needed, cutting costs for dairy farmers and benefiting consumers.
- Ensuring that fire trucks and other heavy emergency vehicles are exempt from federal axle highway weight laws.
- Allowing logging trucks on their way to a mill to continue driving a 12-mile stretch of I-39 in Marathon County. Currently, these logging trucks must exit U.S. Highway 51 south of Wausau when it becomes I-39, because federal Interstate weight limits restrict trucks to 80,000 total pounds while the state’s highway limit is 98,000 pounds. Logging trucks will no longer have to pull off the highway and slowly traverse narrower city and county roads, thus improving safety conditions.
- Prohibiting the Department of Transportation from awarding grants to local and state governments for motorcycle-only checkpoint programs.
- Reinstating the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC), which would advise the Federal Highway Administration on infrastructure issues of concern to motorcyclists.
- Signed a letter to chairmen and ranking members of several Senate committees asking for support for language classifying milk as a nondivisible load in H.R. 22, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act. Letter dated Nov. 23, 2015.
- Signed a letter of support to the chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on the decision to waive its vote on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for a mandatory safety standard for recreational off-highway vehicles. Letter dated Oct. 17, 2014.
- Cosponsored an amendment to the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill that would prohibit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from issuing grants to states for motorcycle-only checkpoints for one year.
- Previously cosponsored a stand-alone bill, S.2078, Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act.
- Cosponsored legislation to ensure continued use of Highway 41 in Wisconsin for trucks, S. 1299 of the 113th Congress, a bill to amend title 23, United States Code, with respect to the operation of vehicles on certain Wisconsin highways, and for other purposes.
- Cosponsored the Railroad Safety and Positive Train Control Extension Act, S.650 of the 114th Congress.