The recent elections moving Democrats to control the U.S. House of Representatives could lead to policy changes the automotive repair industry will see in the new 116th Congress. Committee changes will also produce new players for automotive policy in the U.S. Senate.
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WIth 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 218 seats are necessary for party control. As of this writing, 225 Democrats and 200 Republicans will serve in 2019 with 10 seats yet to be decided. In the Senate, Republicans will still be in control with 51 seats and 46 Democratic seats, 3 seats to be determined.
What does all this mean for automotive repairers? The most obvious issue impacted could be data access and related cybersecurity issues. Despite earlier House passage of autonomous vehicle (AV) legislation and passage of companion legislation in the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the Senate has yet to schedule their version, S.1885, the AV START Act, for the floor.
Recently the Automotive Service Association (ASA) and other AV Coalition members sent a letter to Senate leadership asking to move the AV START Act during the Lame Duck session of Congress. If the bill is not considered by adjournment, the process will begin again in 2019. Without passage, states and the auto industry will be provided little direction on AV policy including data access and cybersecurity.
The new House Democratic leadership has not been decided, but already leaders are discussing priorities. Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is likely the next Speaker of the House. She recently highlighted her top priorities as health care; infrastructure and to clean up corruption.
New vehicle technology policy is just one example of policy areas that could change in the new Congress. With new chairs for key committees, considerable differences in policy initiatives could happen.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) will chair next year. Although the Committee is anticipated to spend much time on oversight, immigration reform is another possible concentration.