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Election outcomes take shape one week later

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One week after Election Day, we finally have a good idea of what the next two years will look like on Capitol Hill.

While long thought that this year’s midterm elections would bring a “red wave” across the country, in the end Democrats were able to hold their ground in several swing states and remain in control of the Senate, while narrowly losing the House of Representatives to Republicans.

Even with the Senate race in Georgia headed to a run-off next month, Democrats know they will be in control of the Senate at least until 2024. They currently control 50 votes, plus Vice President Kamala Harris would provide a 51st vote in the event the Senate stays 50-50 as it was prior to the election.

ATSSA Board Member Cindy Williams testifies before Congress

Williams participates in hearing to address the rise in roadway fatalities

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Today, Cindy Williams, president of Time Striping, president of the Arkansas ATSSA Chapter, and a member of the ATSSA Board of Directors, testified before the Highways and Transit Subcommittee in the House of Representatives on Capitol Hill.

The hearing, entitled “Addressing the Roadway Safety Crisis: Building Safer Roads for All,” focused on the recently released 2021 traffic fatality statistics, and countermeasures that can combat that increase.

“The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) is a critical component to achieving the goal of Towards Zero Deaths,” Williams said in her testimony. “Having a dedicated funding stream for roadway safety has been critical to addressing safety needs and continuing this program was a bipartisan priority for Congress and ATSSA.”

Discussion during the hearing also focused on rural road safety, something Williams said she understands well from her experience in Arkansas.

House Transportation Committee Democrats unveil surface transportation authorization proposal

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Democratic leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Friday released their five-year, $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal, named the INVEST in America Act (identical to the name of their package last year, which failed to become law). This package includes funding titles for highways – including roadway safety infrastructure, bridges, transit and passenger and freight rail.

The legislation was unveiled without Republican support; Republicans had released their own version, dubbed the STARTER 2.0 Act, in May.

They’re baaaaaaaaaack – Earmarks that is

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Late last week, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) announced a process for bringing back congressional directed funding, also known as earmarks. Additionally, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) disseminated a “Dear Colleague” letter to members of Congress indicating his plan to include earmarks in the upcoming highway bill, which is expected to be part of a larger House infrastructure package.

Earmarks are projects that receive some level of federal funding for state and local projects in congressional districts. They differ from competitive grant programs in that competitive grants are applied for and decided by staff at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), whereas earmarks are advocated for by interested parties and members of Congress decide if they want to include them in a particular legislative vehicle.

Because of an extremely bloated earmark process in the 2005 surface transportation bill, Congress opted to ban earmarks starting in 2011. Since then, there have been occasional rumors that they may return; however, DeLauro’s and DeFazio’s announcements mark the first time there has been this serious of an effort.

Election Update: Three key congressional leaders on transportation & infrastructure issues reelected

State ballot measures pass in Arkansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia

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As ballots continue to be counted across the country, a number of tightly contested congressional races that the ATSSA Government Relations Team has been tracking, have been declared winners.

Among them was House Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D) fended off a challenge from political newcomer Alex Skarlatos to win Oregon’s 4th District.

Transportation-related statewide ballot initiatives that ATSSA is tracking passed in four states.