Senate approves Jeffrey Rosen as DOT deputy secretary

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Dive Brief:

  • The U.S. Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's nominee Jeffrey A. Rosen on Tuesday for the position of deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation in a 56-42 vote, according to The Hill.
  • Rosen has been working in the private sector but previously served as general counsel for the DOT, as well as for the federal Office of Management and Budget. He will be second-in-command to Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and will oversee the department's daily operations.
  • Rosen's confirmation saw pushback from Democrats due to the Trump administration's proposal to cut funding for DOT programs like Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants and the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment program, as well as its halt of funding for the electrification of a Caltrain rail line in California.

Dive Insight:

​The California Republican Congressional delegation reportedly lobbied the FTA to delay a $647 million grant that was intended to go toward the electrification project this year. The agency said in February that the grant was shelved until after Congress finalized the 2018 budget. California GOP members allegedly said they wanted a full audit of the California High Speed Rail Authority's bullet train project before they would agree to additional funding that might benefit it.

Rosen's confirmation comes on the heels of a Trump administration announcement that it would provide more details on the president's much-touted $1 trillion infrastructure initiative in the coming weeks. This news, while not concrete, is a welcome development for advocates of increased infrastructure spending and financiers who want to take advantage of the private investment component that the administration has said will be a key part of the plan. Both Rosen and Chao will play key roles in the administration's infrastructure initiatives.

The potential for a nationwide infrastructure push has drawn interest from foreign investors, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Earlier this month, Saudi officials announced that the country's Public Investment Fund was considering investing up to $40 billion in U.S. infrastructure projects. And t the end of last year, the Qatar Investment Authority announced that it would put $10 billion toward U.S. infrastructure initiatives.

Despite international enthusiasm for a massive U.S. infrastructure plan, there has yet to be a solid proposal from the administration. Aside from proposed cuts to transportation spending, Trump also left infrastructure out of his tax reform proposal. Proponents of infrastructure funding were hoping that the president would earmark the repatriated corporate earnings contained in the measure for infrastructure, but there was no mention of such an action in the plan.

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Filed Under: Regulation