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THE BIG SELL CONTINUES: President Joe Biden and his Cabinet are continuing their sales pitch to the country on the American Jobs Plan, with rail taking center stage on Friday. In Philadelphia, Biden celebrated Amtrak’s 50th birthday by calling for a big boost in funding and an expansion of routes on the railroad, rattling off a list of new city pairs that could be created with some of the $80 billion for trains in his infrastructure proposal. Our Tanya Snyder has the details.
All the routes he name-dropped for new or faster service: Atlanta to Charlotte, Chicago to Detroit, Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Milwaukee to Green Bay via Madison, Scranton and Allentown to New York, and Indianapolis to Louisville.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg got in on the action, too, waxing poetic about his hope for America’s rail future in North Carolina on Friday. “When we envision travel for the next 50 years, the train should be a common sense option. The rumble of rails, the freedom of looking out your train window should once again be known to be as all-American as the open road,” he said. On the way home, he did an on-board Amtrak interview with NBC wearing an Amtrak mask.
What’s next: Biden travels to Virginia and Louisiana this week to continue making the pitch.
AND SO DO THE TALKS: Meanwhile, things are heating up on Capitol Hill — or are they just going in circles? Democrats and Republicans remain far apart, and it’s not clear to what extent either side has budged behind closed doors, but negotiations are ongoing. Another meeting is planned for this week between Biden and Republican senators, including chief GOP infrastructure negotiator Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), White House chief of staff Ron Klain said over the weekend.
Republicans still think they can get there. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) said Sunday that Republicans and Democrats are “a lot closer than you might think” on a bipartisan path. And Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) said something similar, although he did it while pointing out what he doesn’t like about fundamental pieces of Democrats‘ proposal. “I believe there’s a deal to be had if we leave things out like the Green New Deal and recyclable cafeteria trays and climate justice,” he said. POLITICO’s Myah Ward has the full roundup from the Sunday shows.
VEEP WATCH: Vice President Kamala Harris was in Cincinnati on Friday meeting with local officials and public transit leaders — and making some comments that were music to the ears of transit advocates about the importance of bus frequency and more.
IT’S MONDAY: You’re reading Morning Transportation, your guide to Washington policy and politics on planes, trains, cars and everything that moves. Send your tips, pitches and feedback to [email protected] or @samjmintz.
INDIA RESTRICTIONS COMING: Airlines and the travel industry have been pushing for governments to reopen international travel, but the devastating path of the coronavirus in India has instead led to more restrictions. At the recommendation of the CDC, the Biden administration is planning to restrict travel from India starting on Tuesday, POLITICO’s Adam Cancryn reports. “The restrictions come on the heels of a mushrooming health crisis in India, which is currently in the midst of the worst Covid-19 outbreak in the world,” Adam writes.
The context: Biden has limited travel from a number of countries in the first months of his presidency, including reimposing Trump-era bans on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, the U.K., Ireland and dozens of other European countries. The administration in January also restricted travel from South Africa.
MORE MASK MANDATE: TSA announced Friday that it is extending the face mask requirement across all transportation networks through Sept. 13, Tanya reports. The requirement, which went into effect Feb. 1, was initially set to expire May 11.
The Association of Flight Attendants had called for the mask mandate to be extended earlier this month, both in a letter to TSA and in congressional testimony, and it applauded the move, saying it “will keep passengers and aviation workers safe.“
HAPPENING THIS WEEK: The House Energy and Commerce Committee holds a hearing on Wednesday on driving decarbonization in the transportation sector. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has a hearing Thursday on high-speed rail and other advanced technologies, featuring a dozen witnesses from across the rail industry and public sector.
— “Inside the newest U.S. airline, launching in a pandemic.” The Washington Post.
— “Buffett says better economic recovery clouded airlines decision.” Bloomberg.
— “1 in 5 electric vehicle owners in California switched back to gas because charging their cars is a hassle, new research shows.” Business Insider.
— “Biden’s plan to spend $4.5 trillion without boosting deficits depends on factors beyond his control.” The Wall Street Journal.