All eyes Tuesday will be on the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, but the 2016 election also could have broad congressional consequences for the trucking industry.
Senate and House subcommittees that shepherd through legislation related to transport and highways are due for a shakeup.
All but one of the 28 Republicans and 21 Democrats on the House Highways and Transit subcommittee are either vacating or fighting to retain their seats (Illinois Democratic incumbent Daniel Lipinski is running unopposed).
In the Senate, roughly two-thirds of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security subcommittee are safe. But six senators are up for re-election Tuesday.
Four are Republicans, including Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Jerry Moran of Kansas. Two — Brian Schatz of Hawaii and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — are Democrats.
Ayotte’s race is a toss-up, according to several polls. Johnson’s race seems to be leaning Democrat, while Blunt’s is leaning Republican. 2016 election analysts believe that Moran, Schatz and Blumenthal will win their races.
Several vocal House politicians are also in the fray. Seven subcommittee seats from California are in contention, as are four each from Florida, Pennsylvania and New York.
And take Oregon Democrat Peter A. DeFazio, first elected to the House in 1986 and serving as ranking minority-party member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure since 2014. He’s currently running against three other candidates.
DeFazio believes the U.S. should invest more in multi-modal transportation and infrastructure in order to remain competitive. In 2012, he helped negotiate a federal highway and transit spending bill known as MAP-21 and currently calls himself a “key architect” of a similar multiyear effort.
He wants to preserve the Highway Trust Fund, which is designed to draw money from a federal fuel tax to build and fix roads.
In March, he took issue with a provision in a recently introduced aviation-related bill that would override intrastate laws related to truck drivers’ meal and rest breaks and hourly wage tracking. In a statement, he called the effort “disingenuous,” an “expansive hacking away at the ability of a state to promote healthy working conditions for truck drivers.”
The House and Senate subcommittees have jurisdiction over many U.S. Department of Transportation agencies and programs, including the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Members oversee infrastructure development, commercial vehicle regulation, research initiatives and more.
In the presidential race, infrastructure spending is a rare point of agreement between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Clinton has proposed spending $275 billion over five years to infrastructure. Some $250 billion would go directly toward dredging seaports to accommodate larger vessels, increasing the capacity of highways to reduce congestion, revamping aging rail tunnels and promoting intermodal and last-mile connectors that link different forms of transit.
Trump has proposed double that, but has not provided details about how it would be spent.
“We are hopeful that regardless of the results on November 8, Congress and the new administration will be able to break through the gridlock and logjams that have plagued Washington and address transportation- and freight-related issues,” said Bill Sullivan, executive vice president of advocacy for the American Trucking Associations.