By Dean Franks, senior vice president, congressional relations 

Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Nov. 18 announced his intent to leave the post and instead lead Republicans on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee when the next Congress convenes in January.

Barrasso has led the EPW Committee since 2017, overseeing federal highway, environmental, and water resources programs. He shepherded the highway portion of a new surface transportation bill, which advanced through the committee unanimously in 2019. Other committees of jurisdiction and GOP leadership chose not to move the legislation, leading to the year-long extension of current law through Sept. 30, 2021.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) is next in line to lead Republicans on the EPW Committee. She chairs its Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee and has two decades of experience on Senate and House committees with jurisdiction over transportation policy.

Whether Capito becomes chairman or ranking member of the Committee will be determined by the outcome of two Senate runoffs in Georgia on Jan. 5, 2021. If Republicans win at least one of the two seats, they will keep control of the Senate. If Democrats win both seats, they will control the evenly divided chamber with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) breaking any ties.

Regardless of the outcome, ARTBA will continue working with legislators on both sides of the aisle, to ensure a robust surface transportation authorization law is enacted next year.