Heavy Duty Trucking

DEC 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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12 HDT • DECEMBER 2014 www.truckinginfo.com Republicans will take charge of Senate transportation committees WASHINGTON N report T he Republican sweep in the mid-term elections changes the players, but it is too soon to know how it will affect transportation policy. Republicans strengthened their hold on the House with a projected 244 seats out of 435, with five races still in runoffs. The key change is the defeat of Nick Rahall of West Virginia by Republican Evan Jenkins. Rahall, a 30-year veteran of Congress, is the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and has played a leadership role in transportation policy. Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon is his likely replacement. The major changes will come in the Senate, where Republicans took over the majority. When they take control next year they will assert leadership of the key transportation committees. The next highway bill, due in May, will be drafted in the Senate by four committees: Environment and Public Works, Commerce, Banking and Finance. The new chairman of EPW will be Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, who will replace Sen. Barbara Boxer, D- Calif. Inhofe supports infrastructure investment. EPW's Transportation and Infrastructure Subcom- mittee is now chaired by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a strong champion for the Highway Trust Fund. The ranking Republican on the panel is Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming. In line to chair Commerce, which is responsible for truck safety among other concerns, is Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, replacing Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. The key subcommittee in Com- merce is Surface Transportation, now chaired by Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The ranking Repub- lican is Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, who recently championed American Trucking Associations' push to sus- pend the 34-hour restart provision of the hours of service rule. Banking, which is responsible for the transit portion of the highway bill, has been chaired by Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota. His likely successor is Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas is in line to chair Bank- ing's transportation subcommittee, replacing Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey. It is the Finance Committee's job to come up with the money to pay for a highway bill. In line to replace chairman Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. Highway funding, 34-hour restart It is not yet clear how these changes will affect the ongoing debate over transportation funding. Much will depend on how Speaker John Boehner of the House and incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell exercise their leadership. Polls indicate that voters supported Republicans in hopes that a change would end the gridlock in Washing- ton. This election gives the Republican leaders a chance to show that they can get something done and maybe earn voters' allegiance in the 2016 election cycle. McConnell said he wants to look for areas of agree- ment with President Obama. "The American people have spoken," he said. "They've given us divided government. The question for both the president and the speaker and myself and our members is, what are you going to do with it. I want to first look for areas we can agree on." McConnell specifically mentioned trade agreements and tax reform as areas where cooperation is possible. President Obama and Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, have expressed interest in using tax reform as a one-time funding source for the Highway Trust Fund, but Camp is retiring at the end of the year and it's not clear that there is strong interest in this approach among his colleagues. Immigration also has been men- tioned as a possible area of compro- mise, but that seems unlikely given President Obama's promise to take ex- Oliver B. Patton Washington Editor PHOTO: ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/SPXCHROME

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