The midterm elections are in the rearview and just a few races are still "too close to call." Nonetheless, it's clear Republicans will continue to control the Senate (51-46 with two races undecided and a run-off set for Nov. 27 in Mississippi) and the Democrats will lead the House of Representatives (227-198 with 10 races uncalled).
"AED looks forward to working with all lawmakers, regardless of political party, to pursue pro-growth policies that expand equipment markets and lower our members' cost-of-doing business," said AED President & CEO Brian P. McGuire. "During the past two years, AED has laid the groundwork to engage Republicans and Democrats in Washington, positioning the association to work on a bipartisan basis regardless of party control. Divided government provides a unique opportunity for Congress and the president to work across the aisle to solve the biggest issues facing the United States, such as rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure."
There's significant jockeying and uncertainty in both caucuses as party and committee leadership posts are determined during the next few weeks. However, as far as AED's legislative agenda goes, there's early optimism about one of the equipment industry's top legislative priorities - infrastructure investment.
With Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), an outspoken advocate for substantial, long-term and user-funded federal infrastructure programs, taking the reins of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, construction industry groups are hopeful that the House will consider legislation early in 2019. President Donald Trump made infrastructure investment a key part of his domestic agenda, and moving into a presidential cycle he's signaled a willingness to work with Democrats to achieve his campaign promise to rebuild the country. Infrastructure investment was also a pillar of the Democrat's "A Better Deal" agenda, which served as the campaign platform for many of their newly-elected candidates.
House Democrats will focus time and energy on rigorous oversight of the Trump administration and expect hearings on the new tax law, increasing the minimum wage, climate change, health care, immigration, gun control, Russia electoral interference and a host of hot-button issues. However, with the Senate still in GOP hands (and a high likelihood Republicans will add to that majority), only bipartisan legislation will finds it way to the president's desk. There won't be Tax Cuts 2.0 enacted, but it also means the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act won't be repealed. House Democrats will make every effort to counter the administration's regulatory reform agenda, but aside from hearings and rhetoric, there's little that can be done by one congressional chamber to reverse President Trump's agency actions.
Other areas of bipartisan compromise could be workforce development and ratifying the renegotiated NAFTA (known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canadian Agreement).
With the number of retirements and ousted incumbents in both chambers, there's a significant amount of work to be done to introduce the equipment industry and AED's legislative priorities to the biggest freshman class of lawmakers in recent memory. Dealer engagement in this process is key to educating lawmakers and advocating for pro-growth policies, so be sure to mark your calendars for the 2019 AED Washington Fly-In on June 11-13.