2010 Elections' Impact on Automotive Service and Repair Industry
Major Committee Changes Ahead in the House of Representatives
Although all of the 2010 races have yet to be finalized, it's evident that there will be major changes in the U.S. Congress for the 112th Congress. House Republicans have picked up approximately 60 seats, enough to have a comfortable majority in the House of Representatives. About half of the Blue Dogs (conservative democrats) were defeated. The committee ratios - the number of Republicans and Democrats who sit on committees - in the House of Representatives will change dramatically.
The Senate will remain in Democratic hands. Republicans needed a 10-seat pickup to win. Although there are still a few races outstanding as this issue goes to print, this won't happen. Committee ratios will change in the Senate to include more Republicans on committees, but the chairmanships will remain Democratic.
Gridlock in the new 112th Congress will likely be more prevalent than it was in the 111th Congress. Congress will return before the end of the year to address several important issues including the funding of the government for fiscal year 2011, which actually began Oct. 1, 2010. In addition, the 111th Congress may address the Bush tax cut extensions, the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010, food safety, etc.
In the House, the following members of key automotive repair-related committees lost their congressional seats in November.
U.S. House of Representatives
• Energy and Commerce Committee:
• Judiciary Committee:
• Financial Services Committee:
• Small Business Committee:
In the Senate, the only members who lost who sat on key automotive repair-related committees were Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
With regard to insurance reform, Rep. Melissa Bean, D-Ill., and Rep. Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., were very active with Kanjorski leading the way to establish a federal Office of Insurance and Bean heading up the House efforts to move insurance regulation from the states to the federal government.
Rep. Steve Driehaus, D-Ohio, had held a series of meetings with ASA and other industry segments to try to develop national policy on aftermarket crash parts regulation.
Republicans will work on their agenda over the break and formalize committee assignments in early 2011.
Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper, D-Pa., had chaired a subcommittee hearing on the Right to Repair legislation and made it clear that the legislation was not necessary. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Ga., the ranking minority member of the subcommittee, will now have a subcommittee chairmanship on the Small Business Committee. Westmoreland has successfully led the House effort to kill the Right to Repair legislation.
What about committee chairmanships? In the House, the following are possible chairmanship scenarios for the 112th Congress:
• Energy and Commerce Committee - Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking minority member, has reached his time limit in leadership on the committee. He has requested a rule waiver from the Republican leaders so he can be chairman of the committee again. If not Barton, it most likely will go to Rep. Fred Upton, D-Mich. Upton has been a longtime supporter of the automotive repair industry and small business.
• Judiciary Committee - Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, will be chairman of the Judiciary Committee. He has been a national leader on immigration reform.
• Financial Services Committee - Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., is in line to become chairman, but Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., is making a surge to take the seat. Royce was the lead co-sponsor on insurance reform legislation introduced by Rep. Melissa Bean. If Royce gets the chairmanship, the key insurance authorization committees in the House and Senate would have as chairmen two insurance industry reformers, Royce and Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., who have supported the federal regulation of the insurance industry.
• Small Business Committee - Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., will be chairman of the committee. Graves has been a strong supporter of the small business community.
In the Senate, we will have a new Banking Committee chairman, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., due to Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., retiring.
The other key Senate committee chairmen will most likely stay the same.
In the new 112th Congress, the House leadership will target high-profile issues in the first few months; i.e., health care repeal and tax reform. At some point the Congress will need to move major transportation authorization legislation. Rep. John Mica, D-Fla., will be the new chairman of the House Transportation Committee.
The House legislative agenda will be aggressive and move quickly. Because the Senate now has a more evenly distributed party membership, it will move at a slower pace than the 111th Congress.
ASA members can track important industry legislation and regulations on ASA's legislative website, www.TakingtheHill.com.
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