Transportation is everywhere all of a sudden. The Senate is debating a long-awaited Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. The House will hold hearings on the FAA this week, and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will mark up its own FAA bill next week. President Obama goes to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday to discuss infrastructure investment and other areas where businesses can get involved in government. The White House theme for the week is simply this: "Build." If there were ever the political will to actually get something done -- on FAA or on a highway bill -- that time appears to be now.
There is a problem with all this consideration, of course. Some lawmakers aren't really paying attention to transportation per se. Take Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who decided the FAA bill was as good as any for forcing a vote on repealing health care. Or there's newly elected Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is beginning his legacy as the Senate's prime budget buster by asking to cut FAA funding across the board.
You in the aviation and surface transportation communities have been patient for several years waiting for Congress to come around to your issues. Now that it's your turn, what's more important, getting it done or getting it right? The FAA bill already passed the Senate with industry support. Would it be OK if it passed just like that again, or should the House tweak it to ensure that it's better for the community once it goes to the president? The surface transportation bill is likely to come up short on funding for everything the administration wants, but is it better to pass half a bill than no bill at all? Is this year the best chance for major transportation legislation to be completed? Or should we wait until Congress is less divided and budgets are less tight? Now that you're in the spotlight, what can you accomplish?