By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations, ARTBA
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Jan. 3 became the first person in over 60 years to become Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for a second time. She took the gavel as Democrats officially regained control of the chamber and ushered in the return of divided government to Washington.
The historic occasion was eclipsed by the continuation of the two-week government shutdown. Congress and President Donald Trump have failed to reach agreement on seven of the 12 annual spending bills due to Trump’s insistence that any final FY 2019 spending package include additional resources for the construction of a wall along the southern border of the United States, one of his main 2016 campaign promises. Democrats won the House majority in November due in part to their opposition to wall funding.
While the showdown over federal spending continues to dominate Washington, the impact on the federal transportation programs is limited, as detailed in this ARTBA memo. Also, here is a comparison of the two chamber’s FY 2019 transportation spending bills.
It’s uncertainly how long the partial shutdown will last. The longer the battle over border wall funding continues, the less time and energy Congress and the Trump administration will have for other issues, including an infrastructure package that has been discussed as a 2019 agenda item by both Democrats and the president.
History indicates a solution to reopen the government will occur at some point, and that agreement will require bipartisanship.
Pelosi received 220 of a potential 435 votes for speaker. Among other responsibilities, the speaker controls which bills and amendments are brought to the House floor, determines committee membership and leadership, and is second in the line of presidential succession.
After winning the post, Pelosi said the new House “will pursue our mission… to increase paychecks by rebuilding America with green and modern infrastructure from sea to shining sea. We want to work with President Trump on that.” Trump, in congratulating Pelosi, said, “hopefully we’re going to work together and get lots of things done, like infrastructure.”
ARTBA will work in the coming weeks to encourage that bipartisanship and compromise does indeed extend to infrastructure once the shutdown concludes.