Here are the political areas we think will be most greatly impacted by the Republican control of the government and Trump’s presidency.
Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.
The New York business mogul won 276 electoral college votes to best former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was an incredibly close race – she is likely to win the popular vote when the final votes are counted – but ultimately Trump’s brazen, anti-establishment, economic populist message won out.
It’s a reality that is sinking in for all those who work in government and policy as the post-election question is, where do we go from here?
Trump spent a year campaigning on ideals rather than details, on feelings rather than facts – he will likely go down in history as the candidate who released the the fewest concrete policy ideas to then be elected to the White House. It makes the agenda and reality for the first 100 days of the new Congress nearly impossible to predict.
The lame-duck session of Congress, which we will visit in the next iteration of Insights, will be vastly different than what was expected even two days ago. However, two scenarios are more likely – utilizing the lame-duck session to advance the remaining spending bill or punting a stop-gap funding bill for three months to allow negotiations to occur under a Trump administration. Both are equally plausible.
In the first scenario, the Trump administration would begin their term without a looming spending fight and could start their term in office with the Trump agenda – not leftover legislation from the 114th Congress. The second scenario assumes that it would be easier to move an omnibus without needing to negotiate with the Obama White House. But Republicans will still need to negotiate with Senate Democrats regardless of whether it happens now or next year so Democrats will still be a complicating factor.
That’s not to say things won’t get done. Trump rode a populist wave into the White House that wants to see real action taken on the economy and jobs. Trade, Obamacare, and infrastructure will be among the top priorities.
Trump’s first 100 days in office – a period often characterized as a political honeymoon where victors have political capital to push forward promised goals – will likely be chaotic. Among other potentially disruptive changes, the business mogul has promised to repeal the hundreds of executive orders signed into law by President Barack Obama. Many of the hallmark legislative victories from the Obama administration have the potential to be expunged by Trump’s signature, including rollbacks to immigration reforms, healthcare, and national security and defense practices.
As we saw in Britain during their BREXIT vote, this shock-filled election pitted the net losers of globalism versus the net winners, and the working class clamored for Trump – even if the billionaire Manhattanite is an unlikely champion for the disenfranchised blue collar workers of the country.
We can count on a few things. Trump gave signals early on that he would focus on the more theoretical issues – encompassed in his campaign’s enticing tagline, “Make America Great Again.” When the Trump campaign was shopping for vice presidents, close advisors to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich reported that the vice president in a Trump administration would have broad control over domestic and foreign policy.
That means that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence – the vice president-elect – could be the policy bastion of the administration. Pence, a fiscal and social conservative, was best known for rolling back abortion rights in Indiana, along with his defense of businesses who refused to service customers based on religious beliefs. Pence is a well-known figure on Capitol Hill – enjoying a close relationship with Speaker Paul Ryan and Republicans in Congress (he served in leadership during his time in the House).
Expect that any vacancy on the Supreme Court will be filled with conservative choices if Pence is given the leeway to oversee those selections. Including the current vacancy, Trump may have the ability to fill two – three seats on the Supreme Court – leaving a conservative majority on the court that will last decades longer than Trump’s tenure in the White House.
Below are the policy and political areas we think will be most impacted by the Republican control of the government and Trump’s presidency.
The House Republican Conference had been facing predictions of significant losses—potentially 10 to 15 seats—but managed to emerge unscathed Tuesday with only minimal losses. This will bring a new energy to the GOP in the House.
What that new energy is, however, has yet to be determined, as the election has further divided Republicans, who already scheduled a Wednesday morning conference call with lawmakers (dubbed a “family meeting”) to discuss the outcome.
Those who aggressively supported Trump have become increasingly frustrated with those who haven’t – mainly Ryan. Furthermore, the conservative House Freedom Caucus is coming back to D.C. with many strong demands (though they are finding themselves without the increase in influence that a reduced Republican majority would have provided). The excitement around the positive election results for Republicans won’t entirely erase the often-dysfunctional dynamics within the House Republican Conference.
Conventional wisdom dictates that Ryan and the rest of Republican leadership should be safe, but this has been an election where conventional wisdom doesn’t always hold up. Trump and Ryan have had an acrimonious relationship for months; however, it is likely that Trump and Ryan need each other. Ryan’s nod to Trump’s role in preserving the larger than expected Republican majority may quell the disharmony.
The next two years will be auspicious for the Republican agenda. For the first time in six years, a single party will hold both the presidency and the majorities in the Senate and the House. The margin in the Senate isn’t large, but plays in the GOP’s favor for the 2018 election as Democrats will be defending 25 seats. Republicans will only be defending eight.
While traditionally the party that holds the White House loses seats in the midterm election, the dynamic may be changed by the map in 2018.
This matters for the agenda of the Senate, as many of the up-for-election Democrats are in moderate, blue-collar, purple, or red states. This could help Republicans push forward controversial bills with Democratic support, thus padding their thin majority.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will be looking for ways to grow his majority in 2018. That will mean continuing his focus on finding examples for Republicans to demonstrate they can govern. Across the aisle, Sen. Chuck Schumer, the expected minority leader, will look for ways to show that the Democrats can work together to defend core Democratic ideals. These priorities will come to a head as Republicans will look to force votes on wedge issues that could be difficult to vote against if you’re a vulnerable Democrat.
A wild card in this outlook is that no one knows whether Trump will govern divisively, or try to bring the country together, as he committed in his victory speech. Given the tension between Congress and Trump during the election, the relationship will be closely watched and likely be very mercurial over the next cycle.
The debate over the Supreme Court vacancy will likely become the single most divisive issue, as Democrats will use the process to highlight the difference between the two parties during the confirmation process. McConnell was prescient for refusing to move Obama’s nominee as Trump will have an immediate vacancy to fill. It will be a delicate dance as vulnerable 2018 Democrats in red states will have tremendous pressure on them to approve a qualified nominee. Still, it is likely that Democrats will adopt a strong adversarial posture against the Republican nominee.
Finally, expect a divisive debate on the debt ceiling early in the year.
In the never-ending debate over the federal government’s role in America’s behemoth healthcare complex, Trump’s election will have significant consequences. Since the enactment of Obamacare in 2010, Congress has voted more than 60 times to repeal the legislation, which is at the heart of Obama’s achievements while in office.
Trump has been very clear that he plans to overhaul the controversial law, saying the law will be repealed “very, very quickly.” Still, Republicans have struggled since 2010 to outline a palatable plan to repeal Obamacare without denying Americans healthcare or taking away popular provisions in the law.
Ryan and Trump have outlined similar plans, in theory, for a healthcare alternative. The plan relies heavily on tax credits to help individuals purchase insurance plans and adopt Health Savings Accounts.
With Republican majorities in the House and Senate there is the potential for Congress to use the reconciliation process to move forward on healthcare in 2017, but Democrats will surely put up a fight. Then there is the actual process of dismantling the law. The unwinding of Obamacare will be extremely challenging, if not impossible, in practice. Key policy issues regarding the previously uninsured, preexisting conditions, and other key issues of the law will need to be addressed in any repeal effort.
Beyond the repeal of Obamacare, Trump has detailed several policy initiatives to implement free market reforms which he claims “will broaden healthcare access, make healthcare more affordable and improve the quality of the care available to all Americans,” including:
- Allowing for the sale of health insurance plans that meet state requirements to be offered across state lines
- Providing for the full deductibility of individual health insurance premium payments
- Requiring healthcare providers to provide price transparency that allow individuals to compare prices for procedures, exams or any other medical-related procedure
- Expanding block-grant Medicaid to the states.
There is a trio of names that have consistently been mentioned as possible candidates for Department of Health and Human Services secretary. They include former presidential candidates Ben Carson and Newt Gingrich, also a former speaker of the House, and Florida Gov. Rick Scott. As with many of his ultimate cabinet selections, Trump could surprise the country with a private sector pick or someone whose name has yet to emerge.
Infrastructure is expected to be a top-tier domestic policy priority for Trump. In his victory speech Tuesday evening, he said, “We are going to fix our inner cities and rebuild our highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, schools, hospitals. We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure, which will become, by the way, second to none. And we will put millions of our people to work as we rebuild it.”
He’ll likely develop a legislative package in the first 100 days that is heavy on infrastructure investments, as well as pursue opportunities to use executive authority to advance infrastructure goals by eliminating regulations and streamlining the administrative approval process for infrastructure development.
Trump pledged to move forward with a deficit-neutral “America’s Infrastructure First” policy that drives investments into transportation, clean water, electricity grid upgrades, telecommunications, security infrastructure, and yet to be detailed domestic infrastructure needs.
As with many of the policy proposals laid out in the campaign, Trump has indicated a desire to redirect spending to reduce waste and costs through regulatory reform and reduction of bureaucracy. Additionally, he has highlighted his intention to provide flexibility to the states and to seek opportunities to leverage private investment to supplement federal support. These are all generally aligned with the Republican party policy priorities.
One area where the President-elect has provided some specificity is related to clean water. He has proposed tripling the funding for State Revolving Loan Funds, which focuses on the upgrade of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. Furthermore, he has pledged to accelerate approvals for private sector energy infrastructure projects, specifically highlighting pipelines and coal export facilities.
Tax reform was considered one of the most probable areas for compromise between congressional leaders and the White House, regardless of who won the presidency. Trump and Ryan have similar plans to drive down the highest tax rates for businesses and individuals though there are some important deviations that will have to be addressed if either plan is going to avoid exploding the deficit.
The House GOP’s plan for tax reform – outlined in Ryan’s “Better Way” policy agenda – focuses on simplicity and fairness and big wins for business-minded independents and Republicans. The plan would decrease the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent, create a ceiling of 33 percent for the highest-earning individuals, and collapse the individual tax system into just three brackets. The plan would abolish the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax – allowing individuals to fill out their taxes on a form the size of a postcard (a proposal House Republicans borrowed from conservative presidential candidates like Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul). There is also a nod to the base with provisions to overhaul the Internal Revenue Service. The plan aims to streamline the IRS’s structure and focus the agency on customer service. The IRS would center around three units: families and individuals, businesses, and small claims court. The IRS administrator would be limited to a maximum of two three-year terms.
The “Better Way” plan aligns with Trump’s promises to deliver the “largest tax cuts since Ronald Reagan.” Under Trump’s plan, individual income tax rates would be cut to 12 percent, 25 percent, and 33 percent. The corporate tax rate would be reduced to 15 percent from 35 percent, but it would be applied to corporations of all types, including the so-called pass-throughs or S corporations and partnerships, who currently pay taxes based on the individual rates.
These plans broadly favor the wealthiest earners in the country – and likely will be fought tooth-and-nail by Democrats who want to see greater parity in how the tax code treats those of different income levels.
Trump gets into perilous territory in two respects: the cost of his plan and the tax breaks he eliminates. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimated that Trump’s plan would add $6.2 trillion to the federal debt over ten years. When you consider a likely repeal of Obamacare, which brings in tax revenue, it could be higher.
Another potential landfall for the new president will be his decision to scrap many favored tax breaks from the code. While businesses large and small always say they’d be willing to give up some of their breaks in exchange for a lower rate, the corporations always put up a fight when their favored breaks on the chopping block. Trump proposes ending the carried interest provision, capping deductions, and ending depreciation write-offs.
Still, corporate tax reform is the most likely contender to see actual action. Democrats could use their leverage in the Senate to insist on individual tax changes beyond just the rate but there is wide agreement that the tax code is outdated and limits economic growth.
Trump has staked out hardline positions on immigration since his very first day on the campaign —and has not wavered from his isolationist position since. Although popular opinion is at odds with Trump’s most steadfast positions (building a wall, mass deportations, etc.), his election could be seen as a mandate for him and other hawkish Republicans to follow through on his immigration promises.
Trump has called for a 20 percent to 60 percent reduction in green cards along with significant increases in both the manpower and funding dedicated to immigration law enforcement. We could see a moderation on the idea of building a physical wall, which would be pricey and somewhat ineffective. There are already 700 miles of walls and barriers along the border that do little to deter individuals who want to enter the U.S. illegally.
A way to fulfill this promise could be the enactment of a virtual wall that includes increased security on the border, monitoring by drones and planes, and stricter security and entry requirements. Additional promises from Trump include mandated nationwide e-verification for all new hires in the U.S. and the end of birthright citizenship (the practice of granting citizenship to those born in the U.S.).
A top priority for Trump would be to roll back one of Obama’s signature – and incredibly controversial – executive orders that shielded thousands of illegal immigrants from deportation. The executive order was based on the DREAM Act which provided children brought here illegally the opportunity to gain work permits, protecting them from potential deportation. The 665,000 people who were impacted could see their status change.
Trump’s plan calls for a “pause” on the issuance of new green cards to workers abroad so that “employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers.” Depending on how you dice it, this provision could cut between about 140,000 and 540,000 green cards annually.
Immigration is a critical issue where Ryan and Trump do not see eye to eye – a potential source of early friction for the two Republican leaders. Still there is broad support among Republicans to push an early enforcement bill out of the House Homeland Security Committee. This legislation would likely only deal with security, leaving those calling for immigration reform dry. It is likely that any hardline bill passed through the House would be blocked by Schumer once it arrived in the Senate. Democrats in the chamber are still in the minority but the 60-vote threshold to vote on legislation will give Schumer and the Democrats a power play for highly controversial bills.
The Department of Homeland Security has a massive purview, but security and immigration have emerged as high priority items in recent years because of the focus on our borders. David Clarke, a conservative sheriff from Milwaukee County, Wis., is noted as a possible candidate for the secretary post because of his outspoken views.
Providing for a strong national defense, while reorienting overseas activities, will be a priority for the incoming Trump administration. The challenges facing Trump are significant. This begins with his campaign promise to “crush and destroy” ISIS and other terrorist groups through military, financial, and cyber warfare. While countries like China and Russia are demonstrating increasingly expansionist agendas, the next administration will face acute defense-budget constraints including sequestration, the planned replacement of several key military platforms, and rising defense healthcare costs. Within this complex budget and political environment, the Trump administration has made clear throughout the campaign that rebuilding the military will be a priority.
Within the first 100 days of his administration, Trump has voiced his intentions to work with Congress to end the budget sequester for defense spending, without seeking any balance in non-defense spending. That will be a tough sell for Republicans in Congress, who have been unwilling to pass budget busting bills without offsets. This could set up a clash between Trump and some of his biggest supporters in Congress early on.
He envisions that by pursuing his “peace through strength” agenda, the United States will face less conflict and can focus on pursuing the following initiatives to rebuild the armed forces:
- building toward a 350-ship Navy
- increasing the Air Force’s active fighter inventory to 1,200
- growing the Marine Corps from 27 to 36 battalions
- growing the Army from 490,000 soldiers to an active end-strength of 540,00
- establishing centers of excellence in places like Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Hampton Roads, Virginia, and the Philadelphia Navy Yard
To pay for the effort, Trump has pledged to order a “full audit of the Pentagon focused on eliminating incorrect payments, reducing duplicative bureaucracy, collecting unpaid taxes, and ending unwanted and unauthorized federal programs.” The next administration will also focus considerable effort on ensuring that federal defense contractors are prevented from over-inflating costs. In Congress, a narrow Senate Republican majority will require compromise with Senate Democrats to move any legislation and enact the budget increase required to secure the defense recapitalization investments sought by Trump.
One of the must-watch Cabinet selections is sure to be who Trump taps to run the Department of Defense. There are several names circulating, including Sen. Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, who was an early supporter of Trump. Former National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and former Sen. Jim Talent, a Republican from Missouri, are also considered potential candidates.
At the center of Trump’s appeal to blue-collar and populist voters was his rejection of U.S. trade deals – past, present, and future. He spent significant amounts of time during the campaign – in both the primary and the general election – railing against the perceived failures of the North American Free Trade Agreement, one of the largest U.S. trade deals in history.
It would be difficult, but not impossible, for Trump to alter NAFTA as president. Congressional Republicans remain staunchly pro-trade (most of the concern GOP lawmakers had about Obama’s accords were with the president, not the trade deals), so there will likely be strong resistance against stripping key components of that legislative package. Trump will have the ability, however, to use executive power on trade related issues by hiking tariffs on foreign countries (as he threatened to do to Mexico and China by 35 to 45 percent) or act against countries like China for currency manipulation.
These actions, however, risk starting a trade war, which would likely lead to countries retaliating by filing complaints at the WTO. Given his tough on trade stance, Trump is unlikely to be moved by WTO fines. But pressure from American corporations who would bear the largest burden from trade wars may moderate him here.
The largest scalps from Trump’s win will ultimately be the Trans-Pacific Partnership along with trade deals with Europe that are currently being negotiated. It is unlikely that either will see passage during a Trump presidency. There isn’t an appetite in either the House or Senate to take up the deals without strong presidential support.
Trump’s U.S. trade representative would likely play a major role in these decisions but potential appointee names have yet to surface —though we expect to see those in the coming days. Another big Cabinet player in terms of trade is who runs the operation in Foggy Bottom. As it stands now, Gingrich and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee are the individuals most often floated for Secretary of State in a Trump administration. Corker is currently the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The election outcome will likely result in a significant shift in federal energy and environmental priorities. The Obama administration has focused on regulatory action to advance policy priorities in the face of a divided Congress, but with Trump in office, those regulatory efforts are likely to be rolled back and, where possible, reversed.
Trump supports increased domestic fossil fuel production, including the expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling. He intends to restore the domestic coal mining industry and support coal-fired power generation. During the campaign, he committed to rolling back Obama’s environmental regulations and to withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement. He has described climate change as a “hoax” and appointed a well-known climate skeptic to lead his EPA transition team. While many of these positions may represent campaign rhetoric rather than firm policy commitments, it is reasonable to expect that Trump will seek to expand domestic energy production, and reverse the Obama administration’s domestic and international efforts to address climate change. His term may well be defined by his interactions with the courts regarding EPA’s authority to reinterpret and reverse regulations.
Trump will find willing partners in the Republican-controlled Congress, though Senate Democrats are likely to force the majority to find 60 votes on any major policy effort. The 2018 re-election dynamics will further complicate the Senate picture, as Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, are both in cycle, and frequently align with Republicans on energy policy issues.
We expect Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, to continue to work closely with Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, the top Democrat on the committee, as the two have formed a strong working relationship over the past two years. Murkowski’s priorities are likely to include a continued focus on energy reliability and infrastructure, as well as permitting reform and a host of Alaska-specific natural resources issues. Incoming Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso is a strong supporter of domestic energy production and is likely to support the Trump administration efforts to reverse Obama’s climate change and broader regulatory agenda. Senate Democrats are likely to mount strong opposition to those efforts, with additional pressure coming from the growing “Keep It in the Ground” movement.
In the House, the new chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will undoubtedly set new priorities for legislative efforts related to energy and environment. However, regardless of whether Rep. Greg Walden, a Republican from Oregon, or Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois, succeeds Michigan Republican Rep. Fred Upton as chair, we expect continued oversight over EPA’s regulatory programs and a strong focus on increased domestic energy production. On the legislative front, committee Republicans specifically plan to pursue reforms to the Federal Power Act, addressing recent changes in the energy markets and the expanding authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Trump confidant and informal advisor Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm is seen as the leading candidate for energy secretary in the new administration. Hamm has helped build much of the energy policy platform Trump ran on throughout the campaign.
Cybersecurity policymaking over the years, from Capitol Hill to the executive branch, has for the most part been incremental. This year and into next, the Department of Homeland Security will reorganize its cybersecurity and infrastructure protection offices, but there could be pushback from Congress.
The encryption debate will continue to be kicked down the road. Congress might find more relevance by giving DHS the statutory authority to do what the agency has already been doing, while efforts to expand information-sharing and incident response are proceeding tentatively. The upcoming report from the President’s Cyber Commission will tee up a platform for the next White House to build on the modest successes of the past year, while high profile concerns about hacking state election systems will re-concentrate federal and congressional attention on how to buttress state cyber resources, to defend everything from election systems to personal data to “smart cities.”
Trump did not offer a cohesive cyber policy during his campaign, indicating a general business preference for less regulation, while also saying he would close off parts of the internet and force Apple to decrypt and open its mobile operating system to government surveillance. He also has said he would call on the Department of Justice to create a task force “to crush this still-developing area of crime.” These pronouncements suggest a more interventionist stance with respect to privacy and security in the networked world.
Policy direction will likely hinge on the strength of the cyber team he appoints. Absent clear direction from the White House, Trump’s cyber leadership could fall back on the approach articulated in the 2016 Republican platform, which calls for “diplomatic, financial, and legal pain, curtailing visas for guilty parties, freezing their assets, and pursuing criminal actions against them.” The platform sees the government going “on the offense” and giving users “a self-defense right to deal with hackers as they see fit.”
Finally, the Republican manifesto envisions a cyber insurance market, supply chain protection “against contamination of components made all over the world,” and expansion of the nation’s cyber workforce “with the assistance of the military, business, and hacker communities to better protect our country.”
The Trump administration will likely seek to reduce regulatory burden on the financial services industry by proposing to repeal, in whole or in large parts, the Dodd Frank Act. This could include eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – a major progressive victory from the Obama administration. Trump has also signaled that he intends to freeze all agency regulations, which likely include financial services rules. There is potential here for dramatic and wide-reaching changes to the regulation and view of the financial services industry.
The Senate Banking Committee will be led by Sen. Mike Crapo, a Republican from Idaho, and the top Democrat will be Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Given the razor-thin majority maintained by Republicans, the expectation is that many of the initiatives that pass the committee will face a difficult road on the Senate floor. Much of what may be proposed in the committee will receive strong opposition from the progressive wing, whether this be an agency nominee or a regulatory reform effort. The House will operate similarly with House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, pushing forward his CHOICE Act, a Dodd Frank alternative, presumably with more confidence in its ability to advance through Congress.
A hiccup in Republicans’ plans could be Trump’s wavering support of traditional Republican values. He is not married to the GOP brand or ideology in any significant way. While it stands to serve that the New York business mogul would prefer fewer regulations, he rode a populist wave to the White House – a wave that has long been fueled by a distrust of Wall Street.
Looking forward to 2017, a focus on the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, which expires on September 30, 2017, represents one of the must pass pieces of legislation in the financial services committee.
Trump has been unusually clear about his preference for who he wants leading the Treasury Department. Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s finance chairman for the campaign, is a Goldman Sachs veteran of 17 years, who now runs a private investment firm.
There was little focus on the U.S. aviation system during the 2016 presidential race beyond Trump calling for its modernization while criticizing New York airports. We discussed Trump’s commitment to infrastructure funding above, which also includes a pledge to “work with Congress to modernize our airports and air traffic control systems, end long wait times, and reform the FAA and TSA, while also ensuring that American travelers are safe from terrorism and other threats.”
The current Congress was unable to reach an agreement on a long-term reauthorization of the FAA prior to its expiration in July, and instead opted for a stop-gap bill that was short on length and a bit longer on substance. While both the House and Senate committees of jurisdiction reported out legislation, the House did not consider the legislation on the floor.
In contrast to the Obama administration, many anticipate that the Trump administration will play a more proactive role in shaping the future of the nation’s aviation system. Key policy topics likely to be discussed in 2017 include federal airport funding and financing – to address the estimated $75.7 billion in capital spending required over the next five years – the future of the air traffic control system and how best to modernize it, as well as how to provide a more effective regulatory structure for incorporating new technologies into our national airspace. Such regulatory changes will impact FAA policies and programs addressing the certification of new aircraft and associated technologies.
We believe that Rep. Bill Shuster, the Pennsylvania Republican who also chairs the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, will continue to push his air traffic control privatization reform proposal aggressively in the next Congress. However, challenges remain for the chairman as several Republican members of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and the House Freedom Caucus – the conservative rebels – opposed the proposal last Congress. We don’t see their opposition dissipating.
Additionally, an increase in passenger facility charges—long sought by the airport community to boost revenue based on passenger volume—was not supported by Shuster, making it unlikely that we will see such a provision included in the House version of the legislation next year. In the Senate, South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, the chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, will carefully watch the House debate before moving legislation in the Senate. With more narrow margins in the Senate, getting a FAA reauthorization bill through the Senate that contains air traffic control provisions or an increase in the passenger facility charge remains a high hurdle.
The challenge for any of the significant policy questions facing aviation is essentially vote counting – are there enough votes to enact air traffic control reform?
With contributions from the entire SIGNAL advocacy team.