Congressman Mark Sanford

May 19, 2018 View Online
Weekly Review
May 12

Transportation & Infrastructure Roundtable: Do you have a moment for a quick snapshot of a part of your future? I ask that because this week I was a part of a fascinating roundtable tied to my role on the Transportation Committee. Though this subcommittee is not in my wheelhouse tied to the debt, deficits, and government spending, it’s a fascinating subcommittee based on the way in which new technology is going to impact the way we move in ways that have never before been the case. Today’s transportation technology revolution is every bit as real as the advent of air travel or even the wheel in its day.

The representative from Waymo, which is an offshoot to what used to be Google’s self-driving car division, was emphatic that before this president finishes his first term there will be a large number of trucks moving to and from coasts that for major portions of their drive will be self-driving and automated. A driver will still be in the truck, but he will be able to set it on an autonomous setting that will allow him to rest as the miles go by.

Nvidia Corporation has computers that now, in simulation form, can and do drive every roadway in America over three days. That’s not just every interstate, that’s every state road, secondary road, and dirt road in every state in the union over a three-day period. They do it over and over again so that they can simulate different sun settings, rainfall, or snow amounts and, therefore, be that much more ready in their adaptation to what might come on the roadway as their computer capacity is incorporated into vehicles.

The next generation of vans, like those that are produced by Daimler in North Charleston, will not be about a driver running his route...but rather a van that runs its route. The “driver” on board will simply walk the packages too big for drone delivery from the van to the front steps. As he’s doing so, there will be as many as four drones picking up packages from the top of the van and running simultaneous routes to other houses in the neighborhood while he carries the bigger boxes.

The lidar technology now used as a sort of “sonar” in pinging off of objects ahead on the road can now see the equivalent of one second out, while the next generation of technology can see nine times faster and further. It can pick up a dark object 250 yards ahead on the road, and this seems to be expanding by the month as technology grows upon itself.

What all this adds up to is revolutionary change in the way that we shop, live, and relate. It used to be that when you became too old to drive, either you moved in with your children or to a retirement home. Their point was that with driverless cars, a person would no longer be confined to the same choices that they have today. They would be able to stay in their home and still have mobility. The same holds true for the disabled, who would see a level of movement and interaction that they have been denied. On the shopping front, their point was that a van could be outfitted as a shoe store that came to you with a full selection of shoe choices, you pick what you like and it goes on to the next would-be customer. Amazon’s hope is to have delivery time within 30 minutes of the time of purchase in this combination of drone and driverless moving forward.

I won’t belabor the point, but the conversation was fascinating for what it will likely mean over the course of our lives...and maybe even not that far out in our lives!

May 15

Rescissions Package: I frequently say to my team that absolute numbers mean absolutely nothing to most people. When you hear the number $5 billion, or $5 trillion…or $5 million…we know that it is a big number, but it is the context of that number relative to others that gives it meaning and weight. Five million as a part of five trillion is not that big a financial commitment. Five million of six million would be.

In light of this notion of context, let me offer a few thoughts on the administration’s announced proposal to cut spending by $15.4 billion in what’s called a “rescissions” package.

Within the next few weeks, Congress will vote on it, and I intend to vote for the package.

Doing so will be good from the standpoint of every little bit helps when it comes to financial restraint in Washington…but these rescissions packages are hardly a cure-all in holding the line on Washington spending.

In this regard, for all the bluster for and against, let me give you a little context as to what this spending cut package really means.... Click here to read more...

Click above to watch a short clip about WRDA

May 17

Protect and Serve Act: 
Yesterday, the House voted on a bill H.R. 5698, which would expand federal criminal laws against harming or attempting to harm police officers. The bill passed 382 to 35, I along with 10 of my Republican colleagues voted against the bill.

The bottomline is that I agree with strict punishments for those who would bring harm to or kill police officers. On that basis alone, I would have liked to have supported this bill, but it codified beliefs about federal power that I think weakened local power, and for this reason, I voted against the bill.

The good news with regard to the bill’s intent is that there are indeed already very strict laws on the books, both at the federal level and in all 50 states. These laws make it a crime to harm police officers, and they do indeed carry strict penalties, including the death penalty. This makes the bill the House voted on today unnecessary. There are specific federal laws that carry a life sentence or death penalty punishment for those convicted of murder of federal officers, state and local law enforcement, or those assisting with federal investigations. So in that vein, this bill would do nothing to meaningfully improve law enforcement safety or achieve greater levels of justice.

But the bill’s scope goes to the heart of federalism - that government decisions should be made at as local a level as possible...and that all governmental decisions do not need to be made in Washington. This is what the Tenth Amendment is all about. And this bill would stretch the Commerce Clause in such a way that would, in many ways, end up neutralizing the whole notion of federalism.

I am a member of the House Liberty Caucus with Rep. Justin Amash, and I think he succinctly described this bill better than I could. Accordingly, I share it below…. Click here to read more...

Click above to read CRFB's analysis on the Penny Plan

Legislation to Help Homeowners Move out of Danger: WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) introduced legislation that would help more vulnerable homeowners move out of dangerous flood zones. The bipartisan bill calls for a comprehensive review of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) program to reduce flood risk and taxpayer exposure by buying homes from property owners in flood-prone areas. In addition to lead sponsors Sens. Schatz and Scott, and Reps. Blumenauer and Sanford, original cosponsors of the House bill include U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sean Duffy (R-Wis.).

“As severe weather becomes the new reality, homeowners are increasingly caught in a dangerous and costly cycle of flooding and recovery,” said Sen. Schatz. “FEMA is working to help homeowners through voluntary buyouts, but that process can take years, and it leaves homeowners and taxpayers at risk. We have a fiscal and a moral obligation to make sure this program works efficiently and helps as many people as possible, and that’s what our bill will do.” 

“As a South Carolinian who grew up on the coast, I know well the devastation floods can bring without warning. Unfortunately, many of our communities have flooded repeatedly over the years, leaving families facing the constant fear of flooding and rebuilding their homes over and over again,” said Sen. Scott. “The bipartisan Promoting Flood Risk Mitigation Act will create better ways of helping people stuck in repeatedly flooded areas while putting the NFIP on stronger financial footing so it’s around for future generations.”

“Community after community has been devastated by flooding, and too many families continue to be in harm’s way,” said Rep. Blumenauer. “The federal government must be proactive to reduce flood risk. That means ensuring those families trapped in repeatedly flooded properties have a way out.”

“Massively destructive storms have become more common in recent decades,” said Rep. Sanford. “For example, in Charleston, there were fewer than five days of flooding annually in the late 1950s, but in 2016, there were a record 50 days of flooding. Accordingly, flood insurance buyouts are the ultimate form of mitigation. Indeed, every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation saves $8 in avoided future damages. The current process needs improvement, and this bill will help to streamline the system.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, in 2017 the United States experienced 16 severe weather events that have resulted in losses exceeding $1 billion. These events include a record number of Category 4 hurricanes that have killed dozens of people. Over the past ten years, the U.S. government has spent more than $350 billion to help communities recover from severe weather. Research shows that in communities subject to repeated flooding, it is more cost-effective for the federal government to work with local communities to purchase homes from willing owners, rather than rebuilding after each flood.

The legislation has been endorsed by the Association of State Floodplain Managers, Consumer Mortgage Coalition, National Association of Realtors, R Street Institute, Enterprise Community Partners, The Pew Charitable Trusts, American Rivers, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Nature Conservancy, and the Union of Concerned Scientists.


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