Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/425123
December 2014 | Construction Equipment Distribution | www.cedmag.com | 25 Election Analysis Rahall's most likely successor is Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), now the longest serving Democrat on T&I and the current ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee. Unlike Rahall, DeFazio is more of a main stream Democrat whose views on regulatory policy are generally in line with the Obama administration. However, DeFazio is a fierce infrastruc- ture supporter and has a strong inde- pendent streak as well. For example, he bucked his party's leadership and voted against the 2009 stimulus bill because he thought it didn't spend enough on roads, bridges and transit. Tax Committees Boast Strong Leadership New leadership on the tax committees on both sides of Capitol Hill means the tax reform debate is on hold in the short-term. But both Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), respectively the presumptive incoming chairmen of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees, have considerable depth on tax and budget issues, which means the process could get underway quickly as soon as new committee staff is in place. In the days immediately following the election (when this article went to press) it was still unclear whether Congress would deal with expired tax provisions – including Sec. 179 and depreciation bonus – during the lame duck session immediately after the election or take up the so-called "extenders package" in early 2015. Fast Action on Keystone? One of the most immediate policy consequences of the election results may be on an energy issue. The Obama administration has been dragging its feet for years on the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. We are assum- ing that when the dust settles, the GOP will control 54 Senate seats. Add to that number the six return- ing Democrats who say they support Keystone and you have what looks like a filibuster-proof majority in favor of getting the project underway. It is not unlikely that one of the first bills the new Congress sends the president will deal with Keystone. Regulatory Overreach Goes Under the Microscope The Obama administration's aggres- sive regulatory agenda was one of the major factors that motivated Republican voter turnout. We are certain to see more aggressive execu- tive branch oversight by House and Senate committees and legislative efforts to stop the implementation of some controversial new regulations, particularly through the appropria- tions process. Among the regulatory proposals likely to get the most scrutiny are those associated with the Obama administration's war on coal and the expansion of the Environmental Protec- tion Agency's water jurisdiction. Risks and Opportunities for Dealers in the New Environment The GOP's Senate takeover is generally good news for many of the issues AED members care about, particularly tax, regulatory, and energy policy. However, Republicans' track record on trans- portation policy is cause for concern. For example, House Budget Commit- tee Chairman Ryan has proposed cutting highway funding as part of his budget plans. Additionally, 54 House Republicans are co-sponsors of a bill to eliminate the federal highway program and 28 Senate Republicans voted in favor of similar legislation this summer. Perhaps most significant, the turn- over on Capitol Hill means that there are many new members of Congress who know little or nothing about how equipment distributors are affected by highway, bridge, and water investment, Sec. 179 and depreciation bonus, like kind exchange, last-in, first-out accounting, technician hours of service rules, energy development, and a host of other issues that impact equipment markets and costs of doing business. It's up to us – AED and its members – to begin the education process for new lawmakers quickly and aggressively. Thanks to all the distributors around the country who made this the most successful election cycle ever for AED. Now it is time to roll up our sleeves and work together to make 2015 one of the most successful from a policy standpoint. * AED PAC accepts contributions only from eligible AED employees and from owners and executives of AED dealer member companies that have given prior solicitation approval in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act. PAC Picks: How AED Chooses Candidates AED PAC is the lynchpin of the association's political program. Federal law prohibits AED from using its general revenues (e.g., your dues payments) to support congressional candidates, but the law does permit associations like AED to set up a PAC to collect personal contributions from individual industry executives and association employees. Those PAC dollars are then used to help elect House and Senate candidates who share AED's policy priorities. Simply put, the AED PAC allows the equipment distribution industry to speak with a single voice in the political process. AED uses a number of factors to determine whether to support any given candidate, including: Whether the candidate is committed to AED's federal policy priorities, including strong federal infrastructure programs, tax policies that encour- age capital investment and entrepreneurship, a strong energy sector, and commonsense regulatory policy Membership on House or Senate committees with jurisdiction over AED's policy priorities Strong relationships with AED members in the candidate's home state CHRISTIAN KLEIN is AED's vice president of Government Affairs in Wahsington, D.C. He can be reached at caklein@ aednet.org.