This Legislative Update is shared from the American Public Transportation Association:
APTA's Legislative Alert
APTA continues to digest the results of last week’s election, analyze the outlook for the incoming 115th Congress and advocate for the conclusion of the ongoing appropriations process for Fiscal Year 2017.
Things are moving quickly and subject to change, but here is a look at where things stand today:
Post-Election Wrap Up
On November 8th, Republican Donald J. Trump was elected to be the 45th President of the United States. In addition, Congressional Republicans will retain their House and Senate majorities in the 115th Congress, although with tighter margins.
In the U.S. Senate, Republicans will hold a 51 – 48 majority, with one outstanding election in Louisiana to be determined in a December runoff. The slimmer majority is a result of Senators-elect Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) prevailing in their elections over incumbent Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans will retain control, after losing only a net of 6 seats, although a handful of races remain outstanding. Of note, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee members John Mica (FL-7) and Crescent Hardy (NV-4) lost to their re-election races.
Overall, 34 of the 48 local and statewide ballot initiatives related to public transportation were approved on November 8th, for a success rate of 69 percent. This brings the overall success rate for transit ballot initiatives in 2016 to 71 percent. For more information on ballot measures, please visit Passenger Transport.
Presidential Transition Team
The official Transition Team for President-elect Trump continues to take shape under the leadership of Vice President-elect Pence.
Leading the Department of Transportation (DOT) agency action team is Shirley Ybarra, former senior transportation policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit think tank. Ybarra served as Virginia’s secretary of transportation from 1998-2002. She also served as the state’s deputy secretary from 1994-1998, when she authored Virginia’s Public-Private Transportation Act of 1995.
APTA staff is already engaging with the transition team and will continue to cultivate these important relationships.
Congressional Leadership in the 115th Congress:
The House Republican Conference recently voted to nominate Speaker Paul D. Ryan to stay on as Speaker of the House in the 115th Congress. The new Congress will formally vote on the new Speaker when it convenes in January. House Democrats have postponed their leadership elections until November 30.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was re-elected to his leadership role unanimously on Wednesday morning. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will succeed retiring Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) as the top Senate Democrat.
Committee Leadership Changes in the 115th Congress:
In the U.S. House of Representatives, there are no changes expected to Committee leadership of either the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure or the Committee on Ways and Means. However, Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations Harold Rogers (KY-5) is expected to be replaced by Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11), based on term limits.
In the U.S. Senate, there are no changes expected to Committee leadership of the Committee on Finance or the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) is expected to be replaced by Senator Michael Crapo (R-ID). Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH) will remain in his position. In the Committee on Environment and Public Works, both Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) and retiring Ranking Member Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will be vacating their positions and are expected to be replaced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) as Chairman and Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE) as Ranking Member. Lastly, retiring Committee on Appropriations Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is expected to be replaced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) will remain as Chairman.
Please note that this analysis remains subject to change but represents the best information available.
Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations
As noted in a previous Legislative Alert, the Federal Government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution under which government funding will expire on December 9. APTA staff is closely monitoring negotiations and will continue to advocate for a full-year FY 2017 Department of Transportation appropriations bill. Some in Congress are advocating for another short-term continuing resolution into early 2017, which would further delay FTA’s ability to make apportionments to transit agencies. APTA staff continues to engage with Members of Congress and staff on Capitol Hill to explain the detrimental impacts of short-term funding bills on the public transportation industry and advocate for completion of a full-year appropriation bill at funding levels consistent with the FAST Act. Today, APTA transmitted the attached letter to the Members of the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations on this important topic. Please feel free to forward it to your own federal elected officials or use it as a template for your own letter to Congress.