• Rebound in auto output key to May’s strength in industrial production and manufacturing output.
• Retail sales fade slightly in May after two stimulus-fueled months of record spending.
• Housing starts stabilize with a small gain after three months of volatile activity.
• General freight truckload Producer Price Index posts its strongest gain ever in May.
• Rail carload rebounds to pre-holiday volume but intermodal still lags.
Surface Transportation Investment Act
A week after the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee approved a transportation bill in a highly partisan vote after a marathon 19-hour session, the Senate Commerce Committee approved its own version of a transportation bill in a far less contentious markup.
The driving factor in the relatively smooth consideration of the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 (S. 2016) is the fact that membership on the committee is split equally among Democrats and Republicans. Democrats technically are the majority in the Senate and on the committee because of Vice President Harris’ tiebreaking vote in the Senate.
The even split meant that S. 2016 was introduced as a bipartisan bill, and amendments generally were noncontroversial. For example, S. 2016 does not address minimum insurance coverage for trucking companies as the House bill (H.R. 3684) does.
However, the Senate bill does include some safety technology measures that are similar to those in the House bill, including a requirement for automatic emergency braking systems in newly built commercial vehicles and stricter standards for trailer underride guards.
Another significant provision, which was adopted as an amendment during the committee’s markup, is a three-year pilot apprenticeship program for individuals aged 18 to 20 to drive commercial motor vehicles interstate. In essence, the legislation is the DRIVE-Safe Act (H.R. 1745, S.659) except that it is a three-year pilot program rather than a permanent change in law.
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