RVIA’s government affairs team highlighted recent developments surrounding President-elect Joe Biden’s evolving cabinet and its impact on federal initiatives and industry priorities.
The association noted former Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s nomination to Department of Transportation Secretary could provide “inside tracks” to address transportation and infrastructure issues.
“Our leadership in the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable gives us the opportunities to work on critical issues with all key cabinet positions,” RVIA VP of Government Affairs Jay Landers stated. “The breadth of ORR’s membership and the relationships of other members allows our team to have access to policymakers with whom we may not have established relationships. But by working together with our ORR partners, we will be able to get our issues and policy positions in front of all the right cabinet members.”
Below are a few of RVIA’s highlighted recent developments surrounding the Biden Cabinet relating to the RV industry:
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR:
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) is rumored to be Biden’s preferred candidate to lead the Department of the Interior, RVIA stated. Other top contenders include retiring New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall and former Deputy Secretary of Interior Mike Connor.
Haaland recently was elected to her second term representing New Mexico in the House, and she chairs the House Natural Resources subcommittee that oversees national parks, forests and public lands. If chosen and confirmed, Haaland would become the first American Indian cabinet secretary in U.S. history. Likewise, Connor has Native American heritage.
A final decision has been delayed as Democratic House leaders express concerns about filling Haaland’s seat and other vacant spots with a slim margin of control in the House of Representatives. Although House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly warned the Biden-Harris transition team against picking another Democrat for a cabinet post, she publicly endorsed Haaland for the Interior post, RVIA stated.
With a Democrat as New Mexico governor, Haaland’s seat likely would stay in Democratic hands but it could take months to hold a special election, the association stated. Biden previously tapped two other Democratic representatives, Louisiana’s Cedric Richmond and Ohio’s Marcia Fudge, for administration positions. Although these seats are likely to remain in Democratic control, RVIA stated, the wait to fill them in special elections will leave House Democrats with a narrower majority.
WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF DOMESTIC CLIMATE POLICY:
Gina McCarthy, a former EPA administrator, will be named to run a new White House office on climate change. McCarthy, who now leads the Natural Resources Defense Council, was the driving force behind President Barack Obama’s efforts to combat climate change through regulation, including his Clean Power Plan. RVIA worked with McCarthy during the Obama years to impact CAFE standards.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION:
RVIA noted Biden issued a statement that said he chose Buttigieg, “. . . because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the DOT.”
Buttigieg served as South Bend mayor from 2012 to 2020, focusing on urban development and economic revitalization during his administration, RVIA stated.
Buttigieg would head a department whose critical functions are setting transportation regulations and distributing vast sums of money, mostly to states to fund respective highway, road and transit systems, RVIA stated. The association noted the most critical funding pool at the DOT’s disposal, the $43 billion federal Highway Trust Fund, is in need of major reform.
The fund is supported primarily by federal taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel. However, failure to increase the gas tax since 1993, along with the electric and fuel-efficient vehicles onset, caused increasingly large deficits in the fund, which Congress plugged with money from other sources, RVIA stated.
RVIA said its federal affairs team will continue to keep members updated on how selections will impact the RV industry as additional cabinet posts are announced.