In wake of the 2012 elections, much in Washington, D.C. remains the same. President Obama won reelection. The Democratic party remains in control of the Senate, increasing their majority to 55 to 45 (when including independent senators that will likely caucus with Democrats), and the Republican party will hold onto control of the House of Representatives.
Despite the balance of power remaining the same, there will be some changes within House and Senate Committees that are relevant to NATSO. It appears likely that Rep. John Mica of Florida will be replaced as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, due to Republican rules that limit members to six years as the chairman or ranking member of a particular committee. Rep. Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania last week formally announced his interest in the chairmanship. Also, the committee's Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Jimmy Duncan from Tennessee faces tenure limits, though it's unclear at this time who the successor might be. In the Senate, Barbara Boxer is expected to remain chair of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee. However, after six years as the ranking EPW Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma will likely be replaced by Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana.
The fight against tolls on I-95 got a boost last week with the election of Republican Pat McCrory as governor of North Carolina. During his campaign, McCrory repeatedly voiced opposition to the I-95 tolling plan in North Carolina. Our coalition plans to work with the governor-elect, highlighting the negative impacts that tolls on I-95 would have to the citizens and businesses depending on the corridor.
The House and Senate plan to return on November 12 for a "lame duck" session of Congress. The legislative agenda remains unclear; however, lawmakers will be discussing the so-called "fiscal cliff," a term used to describe a combination of automatic tax increases and significant spending cuts that will occur on or around Jan. 2, 2013, if Congress does not act. Issues on the table include expiring Bush-era tax cuts, automatic across-the-board "sequestration" budget cuts to reduce the deficit that include defense spending, expiring payroll tax cut from 2011 that reduced the rate from 6.2 to 4.2 percent, and a national debt limit increase. The president and congressional leadership in both parties are currently positioning themselves in the debate. Only time will tell whether a grand bargain can be struck.
Photo Credit: Amy Toner/NATSO
This article originally ran in NATSO News Weekly (NNW), NATSO's member only weekly electronic newsletter. NNW is packed with the latest updates on government and business issues affecting the truckstop and travel plaza industry.
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