Wednesday, July 15, 2020

HR 7214 Introduced – Transportation R&D Authorization

Last month Rep Johnson (D,TX) introduced HR 7214, the Surface Transportation Research and Development Act of 2020. The bill would authorize FY 2021 appropriations to the DOT for surface transportation research, development, and deployment. There are two cybersecurity related provisions in the bill.

Highway Safety Improvement Project

Section 102 of the bill would amend 23 USC 148(a)(4)(B) by adding four new categories of to the list of projects that would qualify as Highway Safety Improvement Projects. The last of these new categories is the undefined ‘cybersecurity’.

Autonomous Trucking

Section 207 of the bill would add a new §5507 to 49 USC Chapter 55. It would require DOT to establish the Heavy Freight Autonomous Trucking Research Initiative. In addition to establishing an R&D agenda that would include “analyzing, modeling, and piloting the feasibility and benefits of dedicated autonomous trucking corridors” {new §5507(c)(1)} the initiative would provide deployment guidance. Of the three specific topics to be addressed in the guidance, one would be “cyber-physical security” {new §5507(c)(2)}.

The bill would authorize $6 million per year through 2025 for the initiative.

Moving Forward

Johnson is the Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, one of the two committees to which this bill was assigned for consideration. She is also a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee the other committee. This means that it is highly likely that the SS&T Committee will take up the bill and probable that the T&I Committee will as well.

This is not a must pass authorization bill, but one that will likely make its way to the full House. I suspect that the bill will pass with some bipartisan support. I am not sure that the bill has enough weight to make it to the President’s desk in this COVID-19 impacted election year.

Note: Corrected bill number prefix in the title to HR 7214, it was correct in text 8:20 EDT 7-16-20

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