A highlight of NASSTRAC's Logistics Conference and Expo each year is Washington counsel John Cutler's legislative update. At this year's event, held in Orlando, Fla., in April, Cutler spoke about the change in administration and what it means for shippers, carriers, and third parties.
On the positive side is the appointment of Ray LaHood as transportation secretary—" a plus for the people in this room," Cutler said. He also was complimentary about Department of Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, citing her recent testimony that screening 100 percent of air cargo by 2012 would not be feasible. "It's nice to see that touch of realism," Cutler said.
Cutler also characterized economist Frank Mulvey, who was recently named acting chairman of the Surface Transportation Board, as "the closest thing to a friend of the shipper" the board has seen in many years. And shippers should welcome the appointment of Jay Rockefeller to chair the Senate Commerce Committee, he said. The West Virginia Democrat is in their corner regarding railroad rates and service.
On the down side is the new administration's failure to fill key transportation positions, including the top spots at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Transportation Security Administration. Cutler's other big worry is that the Obama administration's environmental focus may lead to policies that hamstring the trucking industry and thus undermine an economic recovery. "The level of cluelessness out there is hard to believe," he said. "I've dealt with people on Capitol Hill who have no idea that the trucking industry has any impact on the U.S. economy."