With one of the most hotly-contested elections in generations completed, President Bush has won a second term in office and Republicans have expanded their majorities in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. While there will undoubtedly be a number of personnel moves in the second term of the Bush Administration, the real changes flowing from the elections are anticipated to occur on Capitol Hill.
Surprising many analysts, Republicans will add to their majority in the U.S. Senate by four new seats in the 109th Congress that begins in 2005. No Senate Republican incumbent was defeated and Republican Senate candidates won six of the eight races that became open due to the current office holder not seeking re-election — Democrats won the other two. The lone Senate incumbent to lose was Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD, who was defeated by former Representative John Thune, R-SD.
On the other side of Capitol Hill, House Republicans also have padded their majority. While a handful of incumbents from both parties were defeated, most House members who sought re-election will be returning to Washington, D.C. House Republicans will have a majority in the 109th Congress.
Also being decided Nov. 2 were several governor races and a host of ballot initiatives dealing with transportation infrastructure issues. Of the 11 gubernatorial elections, Republicans won five, Democrats won five, and Washington State was undecided as of press time.
As a result, the current 28 to 22 Republican majority over control of state houses will not change much, if at all. There were 56 ballot initiatives related to transportation funding in 22 states. Voters approved more than 80 percent of the measures to increase or extend transportation revenue.
Of particular interest were five ballot initiatives related to state transportation infrastructure investment — four of the five statewide initiatives that passed would protect or expand transportation investment.
The following analysis details the impacts of the 2004 elections on the make-up of the 109th Congress and, specifically, the committees that have control over the federal transportation programs. It also provides a brief overview of how the new Congress could affect the pending reauthorization of the federal highway and transit programs.
TEA-21 Reauthorization Outlook
The major question for the transportation construction industry following the electoral results is “What does this mean for the reauthorization of TEA-21?” At this point, it is only possible to speculate about a number of “what if” scenarios following the elections.
Several facts remain unchanged:
• The investment needs to maintain the condition and performance of the nation’s highway and transit systems.
• The level of increased investment necessary to increase state’s individual rate of return on contributions to the Highway Trust Fund without adversely impacting other states.
• ARTBA’s belief that the investment levels in the Senate-passed TEA-21 reauthorization bill ($301 billion in guaranteed funds and $318 billion in authorizations) is the minimum Congress should be considering.
It remains possible that a bill could be passed during the “lame duck” congressional session that has been scheduled (primarily to finish the FY 2005 appropriation bills, including transportation) to begin Nov. 16. Such action would require final decisions on the overall funding of the bill and on a number of major, and potentially contentious, policy issues.
In ARTBA’s judgment, these decisions will remain extremely difficult to reach if the overall funding level being discussed continues to be constrained to barely keeping pace with expected inflation and/or the priorities of members of Congress for the bill (donor state equity, demonstration projects) continue. Nonetheless, congressional leaders are expected to make a serious effort to move a final reauthorization bill in mid-November — and may settle for a modest increase in funding that is said to have the Administration’s blessing.
If the reauthorization process rolls over into the 109th Congress, the House and Senate transportation committees would be required to start the reauthorization process over with the introduction of new legislation. While it is impossible at this point to determine where the leaders of these committees would start the process in 2005, President Bush has made clear his desire to hold all non-defense or homeland security programs to modest funding growth.
A number of newly-elected Republican Senators are fiscal and social conservatives and are expected to bolster the President’s call for fiscal discipline. The Administration also has been very clear in its opposition to increasing federal highway user fees or other revenue mechanisms.
It is important to remember the Senate-passed reauthorization measure has essentially the same deficit impact as the Bush Administration’s proposed reauthorization bill because the Senate Finance Committee ensured the bill’s new investments were “paid for.”
It also is important to remember that TEA-21 was enacted in a political environment heavily dominated by an agreement between the GOP-controlled Congress and President Clinton to balance the federal budget. TEA-21 was the first legislation to exceed the investment levels called for in the balanced budget agreement of 1997 and was characterized by opponents as a budget buster. The measure passed the House 297 to 86 and passed the Senate 88 to 5.
Key Congressional Committees
The House and Senate Republicans and Democrats will begin organizational caucus meetings Nov. 15. The only change expected in the congressional leadership will be with the Senate Democrats who have to select a new leader after the defeat of Tom Daschle, D-SD.
• Assistant Democratic Leader and Ranking Member of the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Harry Reid, D-NV, is expected to run for Democratic leader.
• Senator Christopher Dodd, D-CT also is rumored to be considering the leader’s race.
• Senator Byron Dorgan, D-ND, and Senator Richard Durbin, D-IL, are expected to compete to succeed Reid as Assistant Democratic Leader.
There are a number of changes in congressional committees — particularly chairmanships — that are anticipated in the 109th Congress. Both the House and Senate Republican Conference rules limit committee chairmen to six years. This will force a number of key chairmen to step down from their current posts at the end of the 108th Congress.
Neither the House nor the Senate Democrats have similar rules. Committee leadership will not be selected until early 2005, after the new Congress convenes. Committee Assignments also will be determined at that point.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee (T&I)
At the beginning of the 109th Congress, there will be seven vacancies on the 75-member (currently 41 Republicans and 34 Democrats) T&I Committee. There also is expected to be a number of committee members moving to other committees.
• Chairman Don Young, R-AK — with two years remaining on his six-year term limit as chairman — will continue leading the Committee.
• Representative Jim Oberstar, D-MN, will continue as ranking member.
• The retirement of Representative Jack Quinn, R-NY, leaves open the chairmanship of the Railroads Subcommittee.
• Representative Steve LaTourette, R-OH, is expected to succeed Quinn.
• The retirement of Representative William Lipinski, D-IL, leaves open the Ranking Member position on the Highways, Transit & Pipelines Subcommittee.
• Representative Peter DeFazio, D-OR, or Representative Gerry Costello, D-IL, is expected to seek the ranking member position of the Highway, Transit and Pipeline Subcommittee.
• Jack Quinn, R-NY —retired.
• William Lipinski, D-IL — retired.
• Jim DeMint, R-SC) — elected to U.S. Senate.
• Johnny Isakson, R-GA — elected to U.S. Senate.
• Brad Carson, D-OK — ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.
• Joseph Hoeffel, D-PA — ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate
• Vacant Seat (R).
House Appropriations Committee
The chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee will be open, as current Chairman C.W. Bill Young, R-FL, prepares to step aside because of the Republican term limit rule.
Three senior members of the committee are currently running for the chairmanship:
• Representative Ralph Regula, R-OH — currently the chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee;
• Representative Jerry Lewis, R-CA — currently the chairman of the Defense Subcommittee; and
• Representative Hal Rogers, R-KY — currently the chair of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security.
• Representative Ernst Istook, R-OK and Representative John Olver, D-MA, are expected to continue to serve as chairman and ranking- member of the Treasury, Transportation and General Government Subcommittee.
George Nethercutt, R-WA — ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.
• David Vitter, R-LA — elected to U.S. Senate.
House Budget Committee
Representative Jim Nussle, R-IA, is expected to retain his position as the chairman of this committee, and ranking-member John Spratt Jr., D-SC, also is expected to continue in his current role. The Budget Committee now has four open seats — three Republican and one Democratic-as the result of the Nov. 2 elections.
• Ed Schrock, R-VA — retired.
• Denise Majette, D-GA — ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.
• Patrick Toomey, R-PA — ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.
• David Vitter, R-LA — elected to U.S. Senate.
House Ways & Means Committee
Representative Bill Thomas, R-CA, will continue his chairmanship of the House Ways & Means Committee, with two years remaining on his term as chairman. Representative Charles Rangel, D-NY, also is expected to continue as ranking member of the committee.
• Phillip Crane, R-IL — defeated in general election.
• Gerald Kleczka, D-WI — retired.
• Jennifer Dunn, R-WA — retired.
• Amo Houghton, R-NY — retired.
• Scott McInnis, R-CO — retired.
• Mac Collins, R-GA — ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.
Senate Environment & Public Works Committee (EPW)
EPW Committee Chairman James Inhofe, R-OK and Senator Jim Jeffords, I-VT, are expected to continue as the chairman and Ranking Member of the EPW committee.
Senator Kit Bond, R-MO, is expected to continue serving as chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee.
Current Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee Ranking Democrat Senator Harry Reid, NV, is expected to run for the position of Democratic Leader. It is unclear who will succeed Reid on the subcommittee if he is selected leader.
Bob Graham, R-FL — retired.
Senate Appropriations Committee
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, R-AK, will be stepping aside at the end of the l08th congressional session. He is expected to become chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he will replace Senator John McCain, R-AZ.
Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS, is expected to become chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Senator Richard Shelby, R-AL, and Senator Patty Murray, D-WA, are expected to continue serving as chairman and ranking member of the Treasury, Transportation and General Government Subcommittee.
Ernest Hollings, D-SC — retired.
Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-CO —retired.
Senate Finance Committee
Senator Charles Grassley, R-IA, will remain chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and Senator Max Baucus, D-MT, will continue to serve as the panel’s ranking Democrat.
• Don Nickles, R-OK — retired.
• Tom Daschle, D-SD —defeated for re-election.
• John Breaux, D-LA— retired.
• Bob Graham, D-FL — retired.
Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee
Senator Richard Shelby and Senator Paul Sarbares, D-MD, will continue to serve as chair and ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over the federal public transportation programs.
Senator Wayne Allard, D-CO, and Senator Jack Reed, D-RI, are expected to remain chair and ranking member of the Housing and Transportation Subcommittee.
• Zell Miller, D-GA —retired.
Senate Commerce, Science and
As previously mentioned, Chairman John McCain, R-AZ, will be stepping down as the chair of this committee, and will likely be replaced by Senator Ted Stevens.
The retirement of Senator Hollings also will likely move Senator Daniel Inouye, D-HI, up to ranking member of this committee.
• John Breaux, D-LA —retired.
• Ernest Hollings, D-SC — retired.
• Peter Fitzgerald, R-IL — retired.
Senate Budget Committee
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Don Nickles, R-OK, is retiring at the end of 2004. Potential successors include Senators Judd Gregg, R-NH, and Wayne Allard, R-CO.
• Don Nickles, R-OK —retired.
• Ernest Hollings, D-SC — retired.
To complement the association’s ongoing direct lobbying and other advocacy activities, ARTBA provides political contributions to members of Congress who support transportation infrastructure. This financial support is important to ensure members of Congress and candidates that share the priorities of the transportation construction industry continue to get the opportunity to advocate for these issues in federal legislation.
During the 2003-2004 election cycle, the ARTBA Political Action Committee (ARTBA-PAC) supported 99 candidates for the House and Senate — 92 percent of these candidates will be serving in the 109th Congress.
The Bush Administration has already signaled it will pursue additional business tax reform in a second term. With the retirement of several Senate Democrats that had opposed legislation to provide tort reform, this issue may have moved closer to passage in the U.S. Senate. Tort reform is a key issue for ARTBA manufacturer members.
For more information, call 202/289-4434.
Today's top stories