Business Travel News interviewed Venable partner Jim Burnley in a January 27, 2017, article on President Donald Trump's likely transportation policies. Burnley covered a variety of topics including restructuring the current air traffic control system into a nonprofit entity, the president’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure investment, and Open Skies.
A proposal to spin off air traffic control into a nonprofit entity is likely to resurface again this year and its success could depend on support from new Transpiration Secretary Elain Chao, according to Burnley. "In my experience in the Reagan years, when we privatized Conrail, it took us three years, and it took secretarial-level attention," he said. "With [then-Secretary of Transportation] Elizabeth Dole, the two of us worked on that every day. Secretarial leadership and engagement on these issues are very important, and I hope we see that."
Given President Trump's promise for $1 trillion in infrastructure investment during the campaign, Burnley expects it to be a major part of his domestic policy agenda. "In the context of the debate about tax reform in particular, there may be some serious discussion about infrastructure opportunities the federal government can encourage," he said. "I know of no scenario that we'd have a stimulus-style bill a la 2009, but [we could see] freeing up capital in the private sector in various ways. Whether that is in the form of an infrastructure bank that a Trump administration can support, we'll see." He added, "One area we might see a focus on is accelerating the delivery of projects. It would not surprise me if [Trump] embraced a proposal or proposals to try to very substantially accelerate federal reviews of major infrastructure projects."
Finally, on the Open Skies initiative, Burnley said, "If you take the president-elect at his word on these matters, you're going to see the U.S. negotiating position perhaps be a bit stronger in terms of representing U.S. interests… It's too early to predict with any confidence what a new administration would do, but I would hope that is at the top of the list of issues for the new secretary of transportation and new secretary of state."