Mid-Term Election Impacts on ACT’s Federal Transportation Advocacy
Historically, whichever party is not in the White House tends to see significant gains in seats in both the House and Senate during midterm elections. For much of 2022, this historical trend seemed likely to repeat itself. A variety of factors, such as increasing inflation and President Biden’s poor job approval numbers, combined to give Republicans a good chance to take over majorities in both the House and Senate with many pundits predicting a “red wave”. Ultimately, the “red wave” never appeared as Democrats had a much stronger than expected showing in the House with Republicans gaining only a very narrow majority. The Democrats also far exceeded expectations in the Senate. With Democratic incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock prevailing over Herschel Walker in the Georgia Senate runoff on December 6, the Democrats will hold a 51-49 majority in the US Senate.
Heading into the 118th Congress, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee will see some meaningful leadership changes. On the Republican side, Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) will likely become the next Chairman. On the Democratic side, current Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is set to retire opening the door for a new Member to take the top Democratic spot. The two leading contenders for the Ranking Member position are Congressman Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will likely not see any change to either Democratic or Republican leadership.
While it is unfortunate to lose a longtime TDM champion like Rep. DeFazio from such a high-ranking position many other supporters of ACT and TDM, such as Rep. Marilyn Strickland (D-WA), remain in positions of influence throughout Congress. The split control of Congress should also mark a turn back towards bipartisan consensus. With the narrow majorities in both the House and Senate, Republicans and Democrats will likely need to rely on support from the other party to pass major pieces of legislation.
This means ACT’s advocacy efforts will continue to focus on promoting broad, bipartisan agreement on issues that make transportation more efficient and reduce traffic congestion. This includes priorities such as ensuring Congress fully funds transportation funding programs and working with policymakers at the Department of Transportation to ensure policies, like the Travel Demand Data and Modeling program, are developed in the most comprehensive and impactful way possible. All of these advocacy efforts can be greatly enhanced by the participation and engagement of ACT members. Often times the most impactful message lawmakers can hear comes directly from constituents and organizations in their districts and states. By providing a first-hand account of the impacts TDM program have in their communities, ACT members play a vital and unparalleled role in promoting policies and programs that can change the way policymakers think about commuting and transportation issues.