Political Landscape:

Reps. prepare for new session

January 03, 2009

A December lull in the halls of Congress will soon give way to the buzz of the 111th session, when local lawmakers expect to imprint their priorities on a host of issues including housing tax credits, federal stimulus funds and renewable energy.

When the newest session for the U.S. House of Representatives begins Tuesday, a slew of bills could come forward from Reps. David Dreier, Adam Schiff and Brad Sherman, the representatives and their aides said this week.

But while all three intend to put forth their own individual pieces of legislation, most of their official duties will likely be wrapped up in the greater travails of the economy, at least near the beginning of the term.


President-elect Barack Obama intends to stimulate the economy to alleviate a national recession via a massive economic recovery package that officials have estimated could be as much as $850 billion.

Obama’s proposed stimulus package includes a massive public works program for local roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects, with departments in Glendale and Burbank hoping that some federal dollars will flow their way.

“We would hope to obtain additional funding for roads, traffic signals and bridge upgrades,” Burbank City Engineer Sean Corrigan said. “But we’re not aware that any details have been [worked out] though we have needs throughout the city.”

Glendale officials have similarly voiced the need for federal dollars in the face of declining state funds and an increasing number of public works projects.

Details have yet to be voted on, but in December, Rep. James Oberstar, a Democrat from Minnesota, proposed $18.25 billion for highways and bridges, $6.5 billion for transit, $2 billion for rail and $9 billion for environmental infrastructure.

Other groups, like the American Assn. of State Highway and Transportation, have proposed $64 billion just for bridges and roads, officials with the group said.

Association officials said California could use $5 million in highway project funds for “ready-to-go” projects, or jobs that could be under contract within 180 days. Individual cities were not named.

Bob Hope Airport could also get some attention from Congress this year. The proposed curfew on flights from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., part of the airport’s Part 161 application to the Federal Aviation Administration, stalled in 2008 after the federal government forced officials to beef up its submission with environmental impact reports.

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