FROM THE HILL
By Eric Snyder
In Washington, Change Is the Only Constant
The 2014 election was one that Republicans will look back upon fondly. The party picked up more than a dozen seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and nine in the U.S. Senate. As a result, the GOP has its largest majority in the House since 1931 and has regained control of the Senate after eight years in the minority.
While November 4 was a night of celebration for Republicans, the real challenge will be governing in the weeks and months ahead. Washington’s dysfunction is both real and pervasive. The past two years have been the least productive in history.
Because the Senate effectively requires a super-majority of 60 votes in order to pass legislation, Republicans will need to work with Democrats. Senate Republicans face an especially delicate tightrope-walking act. They must ensure that the legislation they move retains support from conservative Republicans while still attracting votes from moderate Democrats. This has never been an easy chore, but it is even more difficult in today’s overly partisan environment.
Conversely, the House of Representatives simply requires a majority of the votes cast in order to pass legislation. While this has at times posed a challenge for party leaders, Republicans’ strong showing in the mid-term election makes it easier to pass legislation even if certain factions of their members vote no.
What do we expect to see in 2015? There will likely be renewed focus on important issues such as corporate and individual tax reform. We expect a renewed commitment to avoiding another government shutdown by returning to a traditional budget process where Congress passes spending bills for an entire year instead of just funding the government for months or weeks at a time. Energy policies that balance the interests of both business and environmental groups will also be a priority agenda item for Republicans and Democrats alike.
Count on the continuance of a significant divide in terms of the two parties’ vision for addressing these pressing matters. It’s our hope that Congress and President Obama can work together to address the important issues facing our country. History demonstrates that presidents have a strong desire to sign significant legislation during their last two years in office in an attempt to bolster their legacy and create a positive campaign environment for their party’s next presidential nominee. Republicans will have a desire to show that they can lead and, in the process, restore the American people’s faith in Congress. Both sides need to work together in order to accomplish those goals.
What does it all mean? What are the chances that Congress will seriously address pending issues? It may be that no one knows the answer to these questions. However, SEMA’s government affairs team is well positioned to join the debate as it advances initiatives of critical importance to its members, including legislation to create an alternative regulatory structure for low-volume car manufacturers, extending tax cuts for small businesses and working toward sensible land-use policies that respect the rights of the off-highway vehicle community.
In recent years, the American public has expressed its frustration with both parties through “wave” elections. The next two years provide another chance for our elected leaders in Washington to demonstrate that they can actually get things done for the American people. We look forward to keeping you informed on issues impacting the automotive specialty-equipment industry and will need your assistance in making sure that our voice continues to be heard in the halls of Congress.
SEMA PAC President’s Club Spotlight: John Hotchkis
John Hotchkis is the president of Hotchkis Performance, which is headquartered in Santa Fe Springs, California. He joined the SEMA PAC President’s Club in 2012 and currently serves on SEMA’s Board of Directors.
“Legislative and regulatory issues are a primary concern of SEMA members,” Hotchkis said.
“Having a strong voice in Washington, D.C., is essential to keeping unnecessary regulations from threatening our industry. The SEMA Washington, D.C., team led by Steve McDonald works diligently to keep the best interests of SEMA companies aligned with like-minded government officials. That is why I enthusiastically support the SEMA PAC.”
For more information on SEMA PAC, please contact SEMA PAC and Congressional Relations Manager Christian Robinson at 202-783-6007 x20 or firstname.lastname@example.org.