The trucking industry had largely hoped for a Romney win. American Trucking Associations CEO Bill Graves topped the list of lobbyist bundlers of campaign contributions for Mitt Romney during the third quarter. According to published reports, Romney got more than $2.5 million from the industry: $1.68 million in contributions gathered by Graves, and more than $900,000 individually from fleets, truck rental companies and truck and trailer manufacturers.
However, President Obama held on to the White House for four more years, the Senate remains under Democratic control and the House under Republican. In some ways, nothing changed. That's leading many to wonder if were looking at four more years of political gridlock.
Meanwhile, the fiscal cliff is looming in the headlights as mandatory spending cuts and the expiration of tax cuts are scheduled to take effect the first of 2013 unless Congress fixes it.
But let's assume we get past that in one piece and into next year.
The Next Highway Bill
One of the biggest trucking-related issues coming up in the next year is that Congress needs to get started on a longer highway reauthorization plan than the 27-month program Congress passed this summer.
GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) budget would have limited transportation funding to revenues generated by the federal gas tax.
The Hill reports that President Obama's reelection is likely to ensure efforts to cut transportation funding will be unsuccessful.
Joshua Schank, president of the nonpartisan Eno Center for Transportation, told The Hill that he would be "very surprised to see the president and a Democratic Senate accept a cut" to transportation funding.
Committee Musical Chairs
There will be changes to the transportation committees in Congress, which is where the real work gets done on the highway bill.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) helped get the MAP-21 highway bill through the Senate on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. But he is facing a term limit as ranking member when Congress convenes its 113th session next year.
The House Transportation Committee is likely to be taken over by Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), taking over from current chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), whos also facing a term-limit situation.
Politico.com, in its Morning Transportation e-newsletter Wednesday, reported that Shuster officially declared his candidacy for the position in a letter sent to the House GOP conference on Wednesday afternoon. A House leadership aide told MT that he wasn't aware of anyone mounting a challenge to Shuster.
Who exactly is going to be on the committee is still up in the air. Democrats added about a half-dozen seats to their minority in the House, which could mean they get another seat on the T&I committee, says Politico. Many members are not coming back, because of Tuesday night losses or because they've moved on to other positions.
Politico reports that "Shuster's experience educating first-term committee members on Congress's role in federal transportation policy could potentially make the next bill an easier sell to Republicans, most of whom will be back in January.
"The leadership aide said Shuster is ready to hit the ground running with a 'fair degree of autonomy' to steer the committee in a bipartisan fashion," according to Politico. "The aide said Shuster is expecting to unite, not divide: 'He's a got a great ability to bring people together and get along with people.'"
We'll keep our fingers crossed. A little bipartisanship on the highway funding issue would be a breath of fresh air.
(We will take a more in depth look at the election and trucking in the January and February 2013 issues of HDT.)
6/29/2012 Agreement Sets New Course for Highway Program