Transportation

House Oversight scraps transportation subcommittee

A House panel is scrapping its subcommittee that maintained oversight of transportation agencies like the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Amtrak and Washington's Metrorail.

House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said the subcommittee on transportation and public assets is instead being changed to an "intergovernmental affairs" subcommittee in the new Congress.

"Structure-wise, that's one of the bigger changes," Chaffetz said during a news briefing with reporters on Monday.

The new subcommittee will focus on issues like how federal grant money is awarded and spent. Although transportation won't necessarily be the focus, the topic could still resurface since state and local governments use federal grants and highway aid to fund a large portion of their infrastructure projects.

"There are billions of dollars that flow out the door that are done in conjunction with grants. Think of [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] when there's a disaster," Chaffetz said. "So we're going to start looking at that and that process."

An official description says the new panel will have jurisdiction over "the relationship between the federal government and states and municipalities including but not limited to unfunded mandates, federal regulations, and grants and programs," according to a committee aide.

Chaffetz has not yet named a lawmaker to lead the new subcommittee, but hopes to do so later this week, he added.

The transportation subcommittee was previously chaired by ex-Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who lost a tough reelection battle in November.

Mica, who helped create the TSA, used his seat on the subcommittee to grill TSA officials, question Metro's safety and highlight the lack of progress on high-speed rail in the U.S.

Transportation agencies will still be scrutinized by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

- Scott Wong contributed to this report.

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