State and Federal Relations

Biden’s Pick to Oversee Highways Moves Toward Confirmation

Shailen Bhatt previously led state transportation departments in Colorado and Delaware. He’d take the helm of an agency that has drawn flak from Republicans over infrastructure law guidance.

Federal Watchdog Calls for National Online Sales Tax Standards

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have shown interest in the idea. But any plan along these lines is sure to draw skepticism from states and localities worried about ceding their power over tax policy.

Housing Advocates Worry About Civil Rights Protections in Texas Disaster Standoff

The state is under scrutiny for how it distributed billions in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development dollars to prevent future storm and flood damage. But whether the feds will take action to address discrimination concerns is an open question.

Republican Governors Blast Biden for Infrastructure Labor Plan

They’re at odds over a proposal calling for contractors to agree to project-specific labor standards on federal job sites.

Biden Administration Looks for Ways to Provide More Free School Meals

With a pandemic-era program expired and no help from Congress on the horizon, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says his department is considering options for how it can take action.

Feds Call for State-Local Cooperation on Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety

The Biden administration is urging state DOTs to turn to local governments as they plan for projects to make streets safer for people outside of vehicles.

States Divided on Setting Targets for Curbing Highway Emissions

A proposal from the Biden administration is drawing backlash from Republican states who criticize it as federal overreach.

Cities and States Bristle Over Proposal to Change How They Report on Finances

Congress is weighing a plan that calls for overhauling how state and local government financial data is made public, stirring worries about new costs for software and staff. But supporters of the revamp say it’s long overdue.

$1B Cybersecurity Grant Program Still Coming Into Focus

The new federal initiative is in its early stages, with questions about how the money will be spent and how much control localities, versus states, will have over it.

The Infrastructure Law: ‘Hitting Timelines Without Cutting Corners’

Biden administration officials are pushing for projects to move quickly, while also meeting goals like benefiting disadvantaged neighborhoods and strengthening the nation’s workforce.

A Leading Republican Looks to Get Tough on the SALT Deduction

Rep. Adrian Smith, who is vying to be the top Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee, views the state and local tax deduction as a potential federal “subsidy” for liberal policies.

How the Supreme Court Could End Up Blocking a Key Path to Sue States

The court will hear arguments next month in an Indiana case that could decide whether people can take legal action against states and localities if they believe their rights are violated under safety net programs, like Medicaid. Advocates for the elderly, poor and people with disabilities say the stakes are enormous.

Republicans are Gearing Up for ‘Aggressive’ ARPA Oversight if They Take Back the House

Lawmakers tell Route Fifty that “clawing back” unspent or misspent American Rescue Plan Act funds from states and localities is a possibility.

Biden Calls on Governors to Pardon Marijuana Possession Offenses

He did so after issuing a blanket pardon for all federal convictions for simple possession of the drug.

Supreme Court Could Shift More Control Over Wetlands to States

The court will begin its new term with a long-running dispute over when wetlands fall under the nation's main water quality law. Depending on how the justices rule, it could leave federal regulators with less authority and states taking up the slack.

Senate Reaches Deal to Avoid Shutdown, Punts Threat for 10 Weeks

Lawmakers agreed to drop controversial provisions and set up a new deadline for a lame duck Congress.

The Emerging Concerns Over the Infrastructure Law Rollout

State and local leaders are happy to have the money. But state transportation officials are flagging issues they’re worried about, as Republican lawmakers chafe over Biden administration rules.

26 Freight Projects Selected To Share $1.5B of Infrastructure Grants

The U.S. Department of Transportation revealed the funding recipients on Thursday. Millions of dollars will go to cover costs like expanding truck parking, bridge and highway improvements and an interstate teardown.

States and Localities See Big Infusion of Cash From Earmarks

The once-tainted, but now revived process to fund congressional lawmakers’ favored projects is sending hundreds of millions of dollars to state, local and tribal governments.

Clash Over Infrastructure Permitting Heats Up on Capitol Hill

Despite objections from fellow Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will press ahead with a deal to attach an overhaul of energy project permitting to a must-pass spending bill. Meanwhile, Republicans have a plan of their own.