Washington Insider
Taking stock, looking ahead

By Mike Joyce
OOIDA director of legislative affairs


This is the time of year that often provides us with moments to reflect on our lives and our endeavors. Hopefully we’ve been able to join our family and friends during the holiday season, taking a bit of a break from the daily hustle and bustle that we live in.

During our time of contemplation we may take stock of what has happened in the year gone by, while looking to the future. We’ll each consider changes we want to make and goals we are striving toward, all in the hope that there will be opportunities for a better year ahead. We do this in our personal lives, and we do this in our professional lives. In our OOIDA government relations endeavors, we do this on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. The short congressional break between December and January provides us with a time to review, renew and look ahead.

Looking in the side mirror
Taking a quick glimpse back down the road that we call 2009, we bear in mind the dramatic changes that took place in Washington, DC. We were witness to a historic transition of power in January from the Bush presidency to the Obama presidency. Along with the new president came new Cabinet members and political appointees, including new faces at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others.

In 2009, Washington also welcomed a more Democratic Congress – both House and Senate – with many new members, new staffers and new committee assignments. And with the Obama administration and Democratic Congress came newly funded organizations advocating public policy positions different from our own.

Through 2009, I believe we at OOIDA have stepped up to the challenge, kept our focus, and continued to aggressively advocate for you in the halls of Congress.

Looking down the road
In 2010, the debate on Capitol Hill and in state capitals around the nation will remain much the same as in 2009. We will continue to hear about the next highway bill, extensions of the current bill, the economy, fuel prices, fuel taxes, the Highway Trust Fund, 2010 trucks/engines, climate change and environmental regulation. There’ll be more on Mexican trucks, EOBRs, livable communities, tolling (both new toll roads and tolling existing highways), public-private parternships (PPPs), speed limiters and more. We are likely to see activity on any or all of the above issues in the months to come.

The Obama administration will press ahead, as they have been doing, with a very active agenda. The Democratic Congress will continue to work with President Obama on an array of issues, but a bit more cautiously in this New Year.

Why do I say “cautiously?” 

Because in November of 2010 a new ingredient will be added to the mix of policymaking. That new ingredient is called the midterm elections.

The “midterm” refers to the midway point in the president’s four-year term in office. So everything becomes more politicized with 435 House members up for election (they run every two years). Out of 100 U.S. Senate seats, 36 are up for election – 34 for full 6-year terms and the other two to fill the remaining Senate terms of Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Also, 36 gubernatorial seats will be up for election. Therefore, everything will become more amplified.

So 2010 offers to be an exciting year, with lots of policy and political activity – for who said the two weren’t connected? LL