|Although a few results are still outstanding, we already have a good idea of the makeup of the 108th Congress. The Republicans have increased their majority in the House by several votes, and they have regained control of the Senate by at least one vote (Louisiana will not be decided until December). The 108th Congress presents important new challenges and opportunities the entire bicycling community. While our vision and goals remain the same, our message must be more broadly defined, amplified and delivered to achieve success. |
If the League of American Bicyclists (http://www.bikeleague.org) and America Bikes (http://www.americabikes.org) have been doing their jobs, then you know how critical 2003 is for bicycling. Next year, the legislation that provides a majority of federal funding for bicycle projects (TEA-21) expires and must be reauthorized. Following is a brief analysis of the new Congress and the Committees that will have primary jurisdiction of TEA-21 reauthorization.
As stated, the Republicans have regained control of the Senate and, therefore, control of the agenda.
It will be some time before Committee assignments are set, but we can draw several conclusions now. Clearly, the biggest change will be in leadership. On the Republican side, Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who won reelection, will most probably become the new Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Kit Bond (R-MO) will likely chair the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, but that is always subject to change once Senate members start vying for other Committee opportunities. John Warner (R-VA) and Pete Domenici (R-NM), the only other Republicans up for reelection, easily won.
On the Democratic side, only Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) was up for reelection and he won. We can expect Jim Jeffords (I-VT) and Harry Reid (D-NV) to play important leadership roles on the Committee, but which one will be Ranking Member of the full Committee and which one will be Ranking Member of the Subcommittee remains to be seen. Committee ratios also won't be set for a while, so it is hard to predict if there will be any vacancies or lost seats.
Of the eight members of the Senate Bike Caucus, only Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Susan Collins (R-ME) were facing reelection and both of them won. (Please go to http://www.bikeleague.org/events/index.html to see the full list of members of the Senate Bike Caucus.) Durbin is Co-chair of the Senate Bike Caucus, and he and Collins cosponsored the Conserve By Bike Amendment in the Energy bill. With nine new Senate members, our challenge is to grow the Caucus in the 108th Congress.
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The Republicans will remain in the majority and actually picked up several seats. Overall makeup of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee should not change too much. None of the current Committee members lost their seats, but at least four Republican and five Democratic slots are now open due to retirements, primary losses or members running for other office. Chairman Don Young (R-AK) is expected to remain Chairman in the 108th Congress. Tom Petri (R-WI) will continue to chair the Highways and Transit Subcommittee. On the Democratic side, Jim Oberstar (D-MN) will remain Ranking Member. The biggest change will occur at the Subcommittee level. Current Ranking Member, Bob Borski (D-PA) retired and it is likely that Bill Lipinski (D-IL) will take his place. There will be additions to the Committee on both sides of the aisle and Subcommittee seats could be exchanged, but those determinations won't be made until 2003.
Unlike the Senate, House Bike Caucus members must renew their memberships every Congress. Of the 115 members in the 107th Congress, 102 will be returning. (Please go to http://www.bikeleague.org/events/index.html to see the list of Congressional Bike Caucus winners in Tuesday's elections.) Without a doubt, we can rely on returning Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) to lead the Caucus again. We should have no problem getting current members to rejoin, plus we have 48 new members to talk to when the 108th Congress convenes.www.bikeleague.org