Key Transportation Takeaways From the Midterms
The 2018 U.S. midterm elections were one of the most highly anticipated nonpresidential elections in the country’s history. From tight governor races to questions about which party would make up the majority in the House and Senate, the results of these elections may spell out big changes for many areas of United States public policy, including transportation policy. Many key propositions, funding measures, and transportation policymakers were on the ballot this election season, ushering in potential changes for the transportation industry
Voters Invest in Transportation
During the midterms, viewers concentrated on intense races between governors, federal and state senators and representatives. However, the exciting results from local and state propositions, many of which called for significant investments in transportation infrastructure, were also crucial aspects of U.S. policy.
At least 314 transportation-related measures appeared on ballots across all 50 states. These measures were quite small in scope, usually only investing a small amount of money in local transportation projects. However, the funding from these measures total over $50 billion worth of investments in roads, bridges, public transit, and more. Voters passed most of these measures.
Low Trucking Investments
The trucking industry invested only $5.79 million in the U.S. midterms, the smallest contribution the industry has provided since 2010. Many top trucking benefactors who received funding from the industry during this election cycle lost their elections, including:
- Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA 10th District), whose district is still counting votes for his tight race against Democrat Josh Harder
- Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), who lost his seat to Democrat Jacky Rosen
- Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA 11th District), who lost his bid to incumbent Democrat Sen. Bob Casey
California’s Proposition 6
California’s roads are in some of the worst shape in the country. To improve conditions, the state proposed a gas tax and vehicle fee increase to pay for $5 billion worth of repairs and transportation improvements annually. Proposition 6 aimed to repeal this tax. Thanks to strong opposition from California’s transportation industry, state voters shot down the proposition. During the election, 55% of California voters voted no on Proposition 6.
Transportation Policy Leadership
Two crucial leaders on the Environment and Public Works Committee won their bids for re-election during the 2018 U.S. midterm cycle. Committee Chair Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) defeated his Democratic challenger and ranking Democrat Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) also defeated his opponent in an easy election. These leaders have collaborated on high-profile transportation infrastructure policy with President Trump and the secretary of transportation during the last two years.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), the ranking Democrat on the Housing, Transportation, and Community Development subcommittee, also won his re-election bid against Republican Bob Hugin. Menendez oversees the latest freight and transit policy changes in his role on the subcommittee.
Certain Republican members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will not retain their seats, including:
- Rep. John Faso (R-NY 19th District)
- Rep. Jason Lewis (R-MN 2nd District)
- Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA 10th District)
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