All eyes on Sinema- POLITICO

With help from Oriana Pawlyk 

— Sen. Joe Manchin says Sen. Kyrsten Sinema should support party-line energy, tax, deficit reduction and health care legislation.

— House progressives who have long complained about Manchin are now eager to take whatever he and the Senate Democratic caucus can pass.

— TSA says it did not relax screening protocols for PreCheck passengers after a whistleblower said TSA “lowered security guidelines” for PreCheck passengers with medical devices and x-ray baggage.

IT’S MONDAY: You’re reading Morning Transportation, your Washington policy guide to everything that moves. As always, send tips, pitches, feedback and song lyrics to [email protected]. You can find all of us on Twitter: @alextdaugherty, @TSnyderDC and @Oriana0214.

“Well, I’m a-standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona/Such a fine sight to see/It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford/Slowin’ down to take a look at me”

HARD SELL: Manchin (D-W.Va.) was all over the Sunday shows, making the case for his $700 billion-plus deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that includes approximately $50 billion in transportation-related spending. Manchin was asked repeatedly about Sinema, who remains the biggest wildcard to passing a Democrat-only spending bill ahead of the midterm elections.

“Kyrsten Sinema is a friend of mine, and we work very close together. She has a tremendous, tremendous input in this legislation,” Manchin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “She basically insisted [on] no tax increases, [we’ve] done that. And she was very, very adamant about that, I agree with her.”

LONE WOLF: Manchin said he didn’t brief Sinema or anyone else in the Democratic Caucus on his negotiations because of the very real possibility they would fall apart, Burgess Everett reports. Manchin said on CNN that when Sinema “looks at the bill and sees the whole spectrum of what we’re doing and all of the energy we’re bringing in, all of the reduction of prices and fighting inflation by bringing prices down, by having more energy, hopefully, she will be positive about it.”

I HAVE LEVERAGE: Manchin was also asked about a separate deal he negotiated with Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi about overhauling federal permits for energy projects like pipelines and transmission lines. The details are not known at this point, but a separate bill requiring 60 votes, instead of a simple majority needed for the spending bill, would streamline the permitting process. That’s likely to rankle some environmentalists, but Schumer told reporters on Friday “there’s some kinds of permitting that get in the way of clean energy as well.”

BRB DELETING SOME TWEETS: Jordain Carney and Sarah Ferris report that House progressives, who have frequently criticized Manchin over the past year for his shifting public statements on a reconciliation package, are now eager to take whatever he and the Senate Democratic caucus can pass. If Democrats manage to pass the bill, it will give them a chance to trumpet action on several long-running campaign promises — taxes, climate and drug pricing — in the months before a potentially brutal November election.

“It’s not the full Build Back Better bill. But it’s a significant investment. … It’s a step forward. It would be a significant victory and it is the president’s agenda and the Democratic agenda,” said Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), whose members quickly lined up behind the Senate deal.

FIRST IN MT: A group of nine Republican senators, who all voted for the infrastructure law, sent a letter to FHWA deputy administrator Stephanie Pollack arguing that FHWA’s proposed rule to have states track on-road carbon dioxide emissions and set targets to bring emissions down is “burdensome, and potentially unlawful.”

“This proposed rule falls outside the scope and congressional intent of the bipartisan IIJA,” the senators, led by Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) wrote. “Furthermore, the implementation of the calculating and tracking greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions is overly burdensome on state DOTs and MPOs. For these reasons, we urge you to rescind this proposed rule.”

DHS v. Special Counsel: TSA on Friday issued its response to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, arguing that the agency follows strict screening protocols for its PreCheck passengers. TSA was investigated following former whistleblower complaints alleging that TSA did not use technologies available to them to thoroughly vet PreCheck passengers, potentially compromising safety for the traveling public. The DHS OIG investigated complaints from an individual, who was not named publicly, dating back to 2018. The individual said TSA “lowered security guidelines for passengers with medical devices and for X-ray baggage screening in Pre-Check lanes,” among other discrepancies.

“DHS determined in 2019 that TSA’s actions did not constitute gross mismanagement or a substantial and specific danger to public safety,” TSA said in its July 29 response to the Special Counsel. In a letter to the White House, the Special Counsel last week said that it found DHS’s determination “did not appear reasonable.”

Given the Special Counsel’s take on the matter, the issue could see further actions from the Biden administration. TSA stands by its approach, saying it “devotes more of its resources to standard screening lanes than to TSA PreCheck lanes,” the agency said. “This approach is consistent with TSA’s core mission, its deployment of technology, multiple layers of security, and its risk-based and intelligence-driven security screening approach.”

SAF BAILOUT?: NATSO, the trade association representing fuel retailers, urged lawmakers to oppose the Manchin-endorsed climate bill because it provides a tax credit of up to $1.75 per gallon for sustainable aviation fuel. NATSO characterized the tax credit as “another airline industry handout, just two years after their most recent billion-dollar bailout.” Instead, NATSO wants parity between the $1 per gallon biodiesel tax credit and any tax credits for sustainable aviation fuel.

“This legislation purports to create a ‘technology neutral’ clean fuels tax scheme, which fuel retailers have long supported. Favorable treatment for SAF flies in the face of this approach,” said David Fialkov, NATSO executive vice president of government affairs.

The American Council of Engineering Companies, American Public Works Association and American Society of Civil Engineers are teaming up on a partnership for a national roadshow to shed light on infrastructure projects and the work of engineers and public works professionals around the country.

— “FAA clears Boeing 787 inspection, delivery restart plan.” AviationWeek.

— “Air taxis keep crashing, bursting into flames in testing phase.” Bloomberg.

— “Amtrak’s return to Burlington took vision and nearly 30 years of work.” Burlington Free Press.

— “How far can you go by train in 5h?” ChronoTrains.

— “Auto makers expect car sales to defy economic gloom.” Wall Street Journal.

— “JPMorgan is building a giant travel agency.” Wall Street Journal.

— “A toxic culture and ‘race to the bottom’: Pilots open up on why air travel is in chaos.” CNBC.

— “Elon Musk’s antics turn owners and would-be buyers against Tesla.” Bloomberg.

— “Democrats open to Manchin’s push for permitting reform.” POLITICO’s E&E News.

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