Jeff Urbanchuk sits down with Bloomberg Government's Shaun Courtney to discuss current affairs in Washington, what's happening in Congress and the prospects for an infrastructure bill.  

Show Transcript:

Announcer: 00:00 Welcome to Engineering Influence, a podcast from the American Council of Engineering companies  with your host Jeff Urbanchuk

Host: 00:30 Welcome again, back to engineering influence, a podcast from the American Council of engineering companies. Very, very pleased to be joined today by Shaun Courtney of Bloomberg News. Another extremely good, example of reporting on infrastructure, which is timely, informative, and really matters, especially to the business community who we represent, the CEOs, the people who care about what's going on in Washington and how it affects their business. Shaun has appeared on the front page of the Washington Post. She's also written for investigative reporting workshop, Washingtonian, AOL news and Huffington post among others. So it's really great to have her on today. Welcome, Shaun.

Shaun Courtney:01:12 My pleasure to be here. Thanks so much for having me.

Host: 01:13 Oh, we are in kind of an interesting time because we've lived through yet another infrastructure week. Uh, we survived and were pretty much exactly where we were the last infrastructure week.

Shaun Courtney: 01:26 Yeah. I mean it's, it is a, it feels kind of like a Groundhog Day almost, which is unfortunate.

Host: 01:31 Yeah. Which, which kind of goes to, what's the mood like right now with, with the Hill? I mean after that meeting, what's the, what's the takeaway?

Shaun Courtney: 01:38 Yeah, I mean I think anybody who was hoping that there'd be like a deus ex machina and like Trump would somehow come through with a magical funding, uh, suggestion. Um, it's pretty deflated at this point and resigned to the fact that if there's going to be any kind of infrastructure legislation, it'll have to be the surface bill, um, that they have to pass before, um, you know, September 30th of 2020,

Host: 02:02 I guess the service Bill Fast Act II or Fast Act "plus" or how are they really want to call it. I mean that's still out there and that's probably the best mechanism to get this done. I know that Chairman DeFazio also kind of has an interest in a larger policy bill that kind of puts a lot of his ideas from, you know, the last congress and before that and then also potentially pennies for progress and things like that. Do you see that shaping up any way or does that kind of taking a sideline to we have to just focus on reauthorization?

Shaun Courtney: 02:33 Yeah, I mean, I think that he wants the reauthorization to be his big policy bill. He wants it to be a game changing reauthorization. He's not looking for incremental-ism, which I think is more what the Senate is moving towards, especially given how quickly they're trying to advance their bill. And that he has just been starting with a lot of these hearings. Um, penny for progress obviously is in the end up to Ways and Means, uh, and so think he's looking to do a heavier lift rather than just, you know, I'm scrounging around for some funds to cover the highway trust fund, which is what I expect the Senate to do.

Host: 03:08 Yeah. And that's, that's one of the things which was interesting, uh, for, um, some of our members who don't follow everything that closely is the fact that the policy piece coming out of the Hill and the special on the House side, that's, you know, T&I, and that's an authorizing committee. When you start talking about revenue, that's Ways and Means. Two separate committees, hopefully working together to try to come to some kind of compromise to get something done right and the same in the Senate. So it's a little bit more complicated than just putting together one bill in dealing with everything.

Shaun Courtney: 03:40 It is. And I, you know, the other thing that um, people should be looking at or thinking about as the appropriations process, which we're going through right now just next week, um, in the next week or so, we're going to have a markup of the THUD - the Transportation, HUD spending bill for the next fiscal year. And that, uh, if you talked to any appropriators will, they'll tell you that's the infrastructure bill because that's where the money's coming from and that's what you remember. So we'll be seeing sooner than they'll see anything out of the Fast Act or reauthorization or anything along those lines.

Host: 04:07 And even though the Senate kind of created the budget with kind of a carve out to address the highway trust fund, there is no guarantee that that's going to actually be addressed in any of the appropriations actions that they take.

Shaun Courtney: 04:19 Well, no, that's true. And you know, the appropriators know we'll have to find funds from somewhere and it's up to Ways and Means to allow them, I suppose to, to appropriate from the trust fund or they're going to have to appropriate from somewhere else. So it gets messy really fast. Um, but you know, I guess if you're trying to be a little bit of an optimist and you know, worrying about what's going to happen, at least there's an appropriations bill that's in the process and there's some money that's coming along, which means something for business in the short term.

Host: 04:48 Yeah. Uh, that's, there is something happening, which is the positive thing and it's, it's, it's, it's kind of interesting to see where things stand after that White House meeting where you had the president essentially saying, you know, I'm not going to play ball until you stop all the investigations. And of course you have, um, presidential politics kind of also feeding into this. Do you think there's anything that can happen that would get the president back to the negotiating table with Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer? Or is that just kind of dead in the water?

Shaun Courtney: 05:21 I mean, I, he would just have to have a change of heart. I don't see there being any internal pressure from within the administration to move anything. Um, you know, there were a lot of concerns with congressional leaders that Mick Mulvaney was going to kind of derail their infrastructure negotiations and, and, um, you know, it seems like perhaps he was effective in getting that done when the president decided to walk out of that meeting. So yeah, I mean I don't, I'm not entirely sure what it would take to get him back on board. I know it's unfortunate, but you know, the stranger things have happened. I think that's the one thing about this administration is that you can't always call something, um, you know, at the end of the story that things can always come back and, and he can change his mind. So, you know, there's always that, I think there's always that glimmer of hope and a lot of groups are, are kind of hanging on that at this point. Yeah.

Host: 06:17 It seems like there, there's a lot of, you can never really tell week to week exactly what's going to be happening.

Shaun Courtney: 06:23 Right, exactly.

Host: 06:25 I, the one thing with the president never misses an opportunity to talk about is, you know, with the fact that he made his billions as a builder building things and how important infrastructure is. And the one thing that we heard, you know, we hear from the hill, from everybody from Steny Hoyer says it to, you know, rank and file, the Chamber downtown. Everybody says that nothing's going to happen without leadership from the White House.

Shaun Courtney: 06:49 Right. I mean, everybody seems to agree that, that, um, it just seems like if you talk to essentially Senate Republicans, I think that maybe they weren't necessarily looking for leadership, especially on a gas tax from the president, you know, it might've put them in an uncomfortable position actually, if, if he had backed it. So I think while there are a lot of groups pushing a lot of strange bedfellows as you mentioned, you know, you have the Chamber of Commerce and then you have labor, um, and you have the trucking association and labor and like their whole pushing for the same thing. Uh, but it's, it's just seems to fall on dead ears. And part of it I think is its Congressional Republicans who are concerned about the, um, the optics of having passed this tax bill and then raising taxes on the average person.

Host: 07:36 Which is an interesting thing because of course, you know, we know that historically, uh, there have been more Democrats in Congress had been pushing for a fix to the user fees and Republicans. And when the Republicans come out, they generally have to modify it or, or come up with another idea of asset recycling or something else, which is not directly an increase in taxes. But at the state level, we've been seeing a lot of activity, you know, over 30 states have dealt with the revenue question for them, you know, for their own states. And it's not all blue states. You know, there's a good amount of red there.

Shaun Courtney: 08:11 Right? There's, there's a range in and you even see referendums and then maybe that's part of that. I mean, I guess we could have a national referendum on if we want to have the gas tax, but um, barring that, I think it's, it's hard, but I think that is part of the reason why you're seeing this is that people are signaling to their leaders that this is something that they're willing to invest in because they'd been told where it's going to go. And I think that some people would say that at the national level, there's a concern about they're not sure where that money is going. um, and because earmarks are not a thing anymore, I can't be like, hey, that, that extra 5 cents you're paying at the pump went to fix that bridge, uh, in your neighborhood or in your city.

Host: 08:46 Which kind of brings up kind of two separate issues because at, you know, the, the question I always have is with all the states kind of taking it on themselves to do this, does it soften or weaken that age old opposition to increased taxes If you're a republican and a republican state with a Republican governor who's done it, you know, is that enough political cover to say, well maybe I can actually go in and vote for a user fee increase?

Shaun Courtney: 09:12 Yeah. I mean, I think for some people it could be, there's been some suggestion from conversations and no direct, um, you know, confirmation from Senator Roger Wicker, but it seems like he might be open to the idea of maybe passing a gas tax increase and he's from a red state and he's a Republican, and he's the head of the Commerce Committee and he'll have a role in passing a surface bill. Um, but then there are others who are just, um, kind of look at the states raising their or their own taxes and saying, well that seems, that seems right. The state should be paying for the roads they own most the roads, so why shouldn't they invest in them? So good for them, leave it up to them to invest.

Host: 09:49 Exactly. And that's, that's kind of the interesting balancing act. And you know, it's interesting because I think all the groups are coming together and they're saying the same thing that you've got to fix the trust fund, you have to increase the user fee or you know, index it, and it just doesn't seem to be moving the needle as much as we needed to. Is it, is it a question of the same old, same old or is it, is it, does something new have to happen do you see anyone out there that's kind of bringing up a new idea or is it just, just kind of, you know, the same thing?

Shaun Courtney: 10:18 I mean it seems it's mostly at the same thing. I mean it's different groups, right? That or as you were saying there that are pushing for it. Um, but it's the same people that you would expect to be concerned about raising a user fee, especially in the Senate. Um, and I, I think a lot of it falls on the lap of, of leader McConnell who has said that if the president backed a gas tax increase and said that, that an infrastructure proposal was his priority, uh, that he would, he would support it if there was support within his membership, but he is not coalescing people around it. And that's a really key, that's a really key person. I mean, he kind of runs the show as much as Nancy Pelosi is in charge of the House and she is, she is leading the conversation on a lot of these things, the house can only do so much and then, uh, and then it falls on deaf ears in the Senate. Um, and, and so that's, that's really the problem. And trying to convince him, especially when he's up for reelection, I think is, is a, a tough row to hoe.

Host: 11:15 And, and that kind of goes into the personalities of the chambers because you're absolutely right. I mean, in the Senate really it's leader McConnell who would have to really drive the conversation and get his membership behind him and reached a consensus to get something done. And on the House side, it's a little bit more regimented, I guess that you have of course Speaker Pelosi running the show. Um, and of course Chairman DeFazio really, you know, working on the committee side. How much flexibility do you think that that Chairman DeFazio has to kind of follow his policy goals? I mean, has he been given a fairly lane, the move, or is he, uh, you know, being held back by leadership at all?

Shaun Courtney: 11:58 Oh, I don't think he's being held back. Uh, I mean, I think he'd like things to be moving more aggressively than they are. And I think that maybe not with the house, but he's expressed some frustration, I think with some politics in the Senate. And I don't think he's just talking about later and McConnell. I think that there's a little bit of frustration perhaps with Senator Schumer based on just some comments that he is, he's made, uh, you know, Schumer was saying that if the president wants to raise the gas tax to pay for infrastructure, um, that they'd have to roll back the, some of the tax bill and DeFazio was like, that's a stupid 2020 talking point. I mean, so I think that within his own chamber, he feels confident that he has leadership behind him and that he can move a bill and, and he is able to work in a bipartisan manner, you know, he worked with, um, former chairman Shuster for years and they would, they would have their tiffs at the, you know, at the Das and then behind the scenes would, would work out a deal. And he knows how to do that and I think he's working closely with, um, now Ranking Member. Sam Graves. Um, so he is somebody who is capable of, of legislating and striking a bargain and being reasonable. And I think that his leadership and trust him to do that.

Host: 13:06 On the House side of the T&I Committee with the new Congress. Has the dynamic shifted at all? Like how has the relationship with Graves and DeFazio and among the subcommittee leadership, is it still fairly cordial?

Shaun Courtney: 13:20  It's my understanding that is, is that it's relatively cordial. Uh, you know, they're still working now, but I mean DeFazio's spent a long time in the minority and he knows what it's like. And I think that he is trying to be respectful while also still, you know, leading and, and pursuing his own policy goals. Uh, and so, you know, I, I think that so far he's been, you know, giving Representative Graves the heads-up when they're planning to do things, um, and, uh, giving them an opportunity to, um, to weigh in. So, and I think they are still working together on a surface bill and, you know, they've been working closely on these Boeing investigations, um, especially since Representative Graves is, um, you know, a pilot. Um, so I do think that they have a, a good working relationship. Um, and so we'll just have to see, you know, does that continue on, um, and for how long and, and, um, you know, there are going to be external factors that might affect their ability to cooperate.

Host: 14:15 Was it surprising when the president came out in that letter before the meeting where you essentially kind of put down that marker saying that, hey, you know, we asked, we will infrastructures the goal, but we got to do the USMCA first. Uh, it seems like infrastructures an easier get than a trade deal, especially given the environment we're in.

Shaun Courtney: 14:34 Yeah. I mean it, it seems, I mean when that letter came out the night before the meeting, anybody who's been covering this, this, uh, these negotiations, you know, it was just sort of banging your head against the table because they just realized that this is not going to go smoothly and, and it's going to become the, the joke infrastructure instead of the actually productive infrastructure week. Um, I don't think, I don't think many people anticipated that he would just walk out of the meeting and, and it's possible that that was being laid out there as like a bargaining tool, that he wanted to come into the meeting with some sort of leverage and was trying to change the optics because Democrats had been hammering on about how the president needed to come to that meeting with his ideas and his plan. Um, so it, it seems not like a good sign, but it didn't seem like a death knell or anything like that when it happened. Um, more of like a bargaining tactic, uh, and then, you know, things changed rapidly as they tend to do in these new cycles.

Host: 15:33 Rapidly is putting it lightly. I mean, I think it was, it was indication that, okay, that could be a bargaining chip. Maybe, you know, looking at it saying, okay, in the last meeting of walked out and some, somehow a $2 trillion number was agreed upon and that was something which I guess, you know, caused some consternation within, you know, the Republicans in the House or the Senate. And then they had to kind of figure out how do we, you know, bring this back. Right. Um, it was just kind of interesting to see that being laid out right before, like the evening before the meeting.

Shaun Courtney: 16:05 Yeah. And, and the letter itself, just the tone of it was, um, just on something you tend to see. Um, it was almost kind of measured in some ways. It was a, we're so used to tweets, you know, that it was, um, there was something about it that was kind of odd. It seemed like some, somebody else wrote it obviously, like the president wasn't writing and somebody in the staff is, but, um, somebody who is kind of more in depth on some of these negotiations, put it together. I don't, I don't know who did it, but, um, it struck me as something that might have even come out at DOT.

Host: 16:38 Yeah. We, we kind of talk about infrastructure week every year. It's something else that kind of eclipses it. And you know, really the debate on infrastructure being really focused on deficiencies. Right. This is how many bridges are deficient. This is how many roads fixed. Right. Do you think that there's a, a lack of the positive, the kind of look at what we can do together if we actually got together and cooperated and you know, for example, you'll look at some of the projects which, you know, we talk about that our members are doing, which were fairly significant that it doesn't really get talked about much by Members.

Shaun Courtney:17:18 Yeah. I mean, I think that it doesn't get talked about very much in Washington, you know, but they go home to their home districts and love a good ribbon cutting. You know I know somebody who was saying that they had a lawmaker coming out and to get them to come out, they had to put a ribbon around the bus stop this or that. Like, oh, he'd come out because it was a ribbon cutting and it was like, you know, we're celebrating that they added, I don't know, a certain number of new electric bus charging stations or something on those lines. Um, but you know, so they, they do like when there are projects that come out or anytime you see it like a grant notice DOT is constantly celebrating it and whoever gets it usually some appropriate or, um, it was very happy that they've gotten a new build grants, which used to be tiger or, um, in for a grant or something along those lines.

Shaun Courtney: 18:01 Um, so I think that there is some positive conversation, but to be perfectly honest, from a media perspective, uh, I'm not necessarily going to write a story about, um, the fact that members, so-and-so was really happy about the bridge in their district. Right. Where it might come into play was a, you know, if somebody was saying that they don't want to fund transit cause they don't think that their system benefits and then they wind up getting a big grant well then like that's something that you'd wind up covering.

Host: 18:30  Oh so it actually changed their mind or show that this could have a benefit.

Shaun Courtney: 18:33 Yeah. Yeah. So I think, I mean part of the issue is probably just that at least national level reporters are unlikely to report on that kind of thing. Local, local reporters will, you know, when there's, when you got a new grant for a big transit way, that's something you're going to cover.

Host: 18:46 Is there anything, I mean, for example, you know, our members are largely CEOs and they're really busy doing their job and monitoring their own businesses. Is there anything happening which they should really be paying attention to that may not be getting as much coverage as it ought to?

Shaun Courtney: 19:05 I mean, I think it is a wonky area, but I, I've talked a lot about appropriations. I think that is something where you should be paying attention, where, where is the money going? Who's benefiting from it and, and how is it being justified? So, you know, is Congress giving DOT a lot more instruction on how they should be spending this money? Which would signal to your CEO's that they should probably be adjusting how they're pitching their projects. Um, you know, uh, are, do they need to use a different kind of material because it's sustainable? Um, there's sort of a push towards that. Um, do they need to be thinking about, um, getting their supplies from us based companies versus a Chinese company? There's a lot of drama around that on the hill right now, which if you're not paying attention to and you have any kind of, um, role in infrastructure that has to do with like connectivity. Uh, you know, Huawei has been a really big issue. It was ZTE or if you're looking at kind of getting, um, we all projects or anything along those lines. The CRC and BYD companies are two that are, um, have come up in the news a lot. So I think that there, um, there, there are places like that where money is moving. Um, and it's coming out of DoD, which is setting the policy on where they want money to go. And then appropriators are also trying to tell DoD how to spend that money.

Host: 20:24 Yeah. And I think you raised a really good point, especially with when it comes to the technology side of things because infrastructure these days is not your old style, just bricks and mortar anymore. Now it's technology and are connected with everything else. So things that are happening in DOT yeah, that's important. But we also have to look at the other regulators.

Shaun Courtney: 20:44 True, true. Uh, you know, if you want to look where, you know, Department of Energy is focusing their efforts and other agencies that are, are looking to, um, improve the way the country is connecting to each other and um, smart roads and um, you know, better charging stations and things along those lines.

Host: 21:02 Yeah. The sustainability argument outside of the green new deal. I mean, that's probably the best example of somebody that's gotten a lot of attention. Has there been more of a focus or have a, actually, let me ask you, on the Republican side of things, have you noted sustainability? More resiliency was a big deal last congress has that kind of continued on. Is that, is is the idea of building in a sustainable fashion, a more resilient fashion something which is, um, caught a lot of traction.

Shaun Courtney: 21:31 I don't know if it, it caught a lot of traction, but I would say that people are starting to look at it and each side has its own justifications for it, right So you have the green, new deal, sort of environmental push from the Democrat side. And then on the republican side it's like, let's not waste our money. Let's stop building things that we're going to have to rebuild and five years, why not just do it right the first time, make a better investment now and have a better long-term return. And I think that you are seeing some of that. Uh, you know, it's a little bit of a side show, but there's been all these objections to the disaster aid bill, which includes flood insurance and some of the more conservative Republicans, especially the Freedom Caucus folks are particularly worried about just pouring money constantly into communities where maybe it doesn't make sense for people to live anymore or maybe if you're going to rebuild those houses you should build them to be fire resistant. Um, and so they want to make sure that the money is being spent wisely.

Shaun Courtney: 22:24 And so I think that there is a place on either side where they can come together and you may have some interesting folks pairing up on that.

Host: 22:32 Which is an interesting area for us because being engineers, it's more just the question of if you're going to build something, you have to build something to last. So it's more like dealing with the world the way it is. Not really entering into the politics of it, but just saying, if you're going to build a structure, you're wanting to do it in such a way where it's efficient, where it's going to last. We're just going to be resilient to the environment and, and kind of making that argument. And it's interesting how it's developing on the hill and, and how that kind of plugs in because you have kind of both sides, like you said, more of the social consciousness side on the Democrats and more of the dollars and cents side on the Republican side.

Shaun Courtney: 23:09 Right. And if you can get those two on the same page, then you might be able to get something done.

Host: 23:12 Yeah, exactly. Um, so the, one of the questions that also we have is that, you know, we do a lot of fly ins. We do a lot of meetings, you know, our members come in of course, for the convention that we just had they flood the Hill, they're having members of the member meetings at the state level, uh, in districts. Have you noticed, I mean, does that still move the needle? Has anything changed from your view or is, you know, the prevalence of social media, digital communications, is that offsetting some of it or is it still, you know, you can't beat a knock on the door?

Shaun Courtney: 23:48 I think it's both. Um, so I think that you need to both have a presence where you're knocking on the door and you're having a face to face time that you're getting, if not with the member or the senator with their Legislative Director, with the Legislative Assistant who focuses on your key issue areas. I'd like making it very clear to them why this matters to them and their district and the reelection. Uh, and then pressure on social media matters as well as you kind of have to partner both of those in order to be really effective.

Host: 24:16 Yeah. So the, among the topics that you cover, what, what's getting the most attention from your readers? What are you seeing the most focus on from, from the people who consume the information you put out?

Shaun Courtney: 24:27 Uh, I mean, this, this year there's been a ton of attention on airline safety and, well I should say aircraft safety really because of the, the Boeing crash in the grounding that that has been an important but a distraction to an extent from the agenda. I think that that, that they had had in terms of moving forward on looking at a surface bill. Um, and that's getting a lot of traction, you know, any kind of updates on that because it is a business focused and it's safety focused. You see, you kind of get just a ton of interest from, from both ends. You know, most people will fly at some point in the next year, you know, air, air traffic, um, has just keep kept increasing. Uh, and so, you know, people are thinking like, am I getting on a plane that's safe, you know? That's something you, you want to know.

Shaun Courtney:              25:11                     Um, that's, that's getting a lot of attention. Um, and just because of Harvard leadership, um, anytime I write about something that has to do with the Gateway Project in New York, we get a ton of attention on that. And that's, that's the harbor bridge and tunnel that connects a New Jersey to Manhattan. And they're both in pretty dire straights. But trying to build a second bridge and build another tunnel and excuse me, uh, and, and, um, everybody's kind of saying like, oh, let's get collapsed at some point and trying to get it done. But there's a lot of politics behind that. So like the politics, the, the business in New York that, that's just the natural traffic driver.

Host: 25:48 Do you think that's a standoff based on personalities between Schumer and Trump or is policy or,

Shaun Courtney: 25:54 I think it's a ton of a standoff between Trump and, um, and she wore it and I think it has become a policy argument because of that. So I think that, um, DOT, you have seen them kind of a pull back a little bit on funding for transit projects and, and rail investment, um, especially in urban areas. And part of that was trying to choke off the funds for the Gateway Project and it happened to be that that also affected other cities. And then there wasn't necessarily a distaste for that. Oh. Among some conservative members and, and within the administration. So, um, it's kind of a little bit of both.

Host: 26:32  Yeah, it seems like that could be a, I almost see that as a linchpin. You solve gateway and then we might have a clear path for a lot of infrastructure.

Shaun Courtney: 26:43 Oh yeah. I think so. But I mean that's like a, that's the personality and then that's, that's the big question with the president. So, um, yeah, I mean, I think that if Schumer could get gateway covered, I don't know. I don't know. What do you give up for that? And I don't know. I mean, I think that he'd get a lot of pressure from Pelosi and others not to give like the wall for that. Um, but it is a huge issue for him and it's become very personal.

Host: 27:07 Yeah. It's really interesting, the dynamics in Washington when it comes down to this stuff because it's, it's, it's the same groups that a lot of, a lot of institutional memory and there's a lot of, you know, this was when things get really personal or regional because everybody kind of wants to have their money or in their projects and their in their region.

Shaun Courtney: 27:24 Right.

Host: 27:25 Which goes back to the idea of earmarks because that was the easiest way. WRDA was easy to do when you had were earmarks and you had to kind of reinvent the wheel in a, in a post earmark environment and then, you know, used to have these bills. And do you see any inkling of a return to, you know, project specific funding?

Shaun Courtney: 27:45 You know, uh, Chairman DeFazio is very open to that idea and was trying to get that approved early on that there could be earmarks. And Nita Lowey who's the head of appropriations, um, essentially said, no, we're not gonna do that. Um, but it's possible that he might get a special permission to be able to do that for a surface bill. Um, and, and he said he wants to do it differently from how they were done before. And it would be very transparent that each member would put on, uh, like post online, what they're requesting, their justification for it, have some sort of numbers from their state DOT's saying why this was something that they needed and, and, uh, how much local money was going into it. So that, so that if anybody had any questions, they could, they could see, you know, how the, how the sausage was getting made, essentially.

Host: 28:30  I didn't, I didn't realize that that was, that was in the offing - a possible dispensation.

Shaun Courtney: 28:36 Yeah. I mean he's talked about it and we'll see what it comes down to in the end. Um, but I haven't heard him close that door entirely. And, um, the idea that he might be able to get it just for a specific bill is interesting. Uh, it might've been easier or it might be easier if it's a bill that the president's backing. Right. Um, and so there's, there's, uh, you know, everything is in question. Um, but, um, I, I have not heard him completely closed.

Host: 29:03 Well that's, that's, that's going to be interesting to see how that develops as well as everything else from appropriations to president and where he stands on things, the 2020 campaign and whether anybody's, I mean other than John Delaney, you know, coming out with his plan, right. If anyone else is going to be coming out with something and then just, you know, the clock is ticking on the schedule. We're getting close to August and then you know, things get a little bit tight.

Shaun Courtney:  29:27 I know it, it's possible maybe September but um, everybody kind of thinks after that we're not going to see much activity. And so then do we get a extension on a surface bill or, or what happens and, and that's a big question I think that everybody has in our minds. Do you want to be in the same situation you are a couple of years ago where you're just doing an extension extension extension, right? Right. Yeah, exactly. And that didn't really work well with the FAA bill for a while cause it, we kept on doing that. It was just like, you know, plugging, plugging a hole and then call in and didn't create any stability or predictability for people to be able to plan out longterm projects. This is your members now, these things you need the predictability of the funding stream.

Host: 30:04 Absolutely. Well, there's going to be a lot to look at. Um, and the news is going to be developing quickly. Uh, and you can definitely catch, uh, Shaun's reporting on this because you know, she'll be on top of it as it develops. So really, um, and also on Twitter, what's your Twitter handle again? It says, @SCourtneyDC. So follow her on Twitter, read her reporting in Bloomberg, um, and just, you know, stay on top of it because things can change very quickly in Washington and especially these days. You don't know what's going to happen from week to week. So, um, uh, Shawn, thank you again for coming on the show. Thanks for having me. And, uh, we'll be, uh, keeping watch on, uh, what happens in Washington.



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