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Pursuing infrastructure policies that adopt climate change resilience is expected next year on Capitol Hill if Democrats retain control of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The caucus, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), approved a partisan multitrillion-dollar infrastructure package this summer that sought to advance provisions focused on climate change as well as a multiyear highway policy bill.
Despite seeing little backing from Republicans on their infrastructure efforts, the Democrats are expected to press ahead should they remain in power.
And they will have about a year to update the country’s highway law, as key members of their policy roster are expected to win their November contests; campaign watchers are noting incumbents on the transportation panel, such as Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa), are poised to return to Capitol Hill.
The Iowa incumbent, looking to fend off a challenge from Republican state legislator Ashley Hinson, is in her first term in Congress. Finkenauer has a seat on the influential Highways and Transit subcommittee and during the pandemic has touted emergency aid for priorities in her district.
Reacting to the House passage of the latest round of COVID-19 relief aid, Finkenauer said: “Among the many provisions included in this package that will provide direct, essential aid to Iowans, I’m especially glad to see an increase in the federal cost match for natural disasters — a step that will lower the local financial burden not only on the pandemic but also the ongoing derecho recovery facing communities across eastern Iowa.”
DeFazio speaks during a news conference unveiling the Moving Forward Act at the Capitol on June 18. (Alex Wroblewski/Bloomberg)
Another contest of note is Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio’s effort to hold onto his longtime seat in Oregon. Elected in the mid-’80s, he is running this fall in a race that is turning competitive in the Beaver State.
The committee chairman led the passage this summer of a partisan highway policy bill, while pursuing emergency aid for Oregon’s efforts to combat wildfires.
“The magnitude of the destruction from these catastrophic wildfires is unfathomable and the need is urgent to repair infrastructure and allow thousands of Oregonians to return home safely,” DeFazio said.
Yet national campaign watchers are acknowledging that polls are showing momentum for his Republican challenger, Alek Skarlatos. A former Oregon National Guardsman and Afghanistan veteran, Skarlatos gained media fame after helping to thwart a gunman on a Paris-bound train in 2015. He earned various honorary distinctions, and was featured on television shows and in the Clint Eastwood film “The 15:17 to Paris.”
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