New Congress, new opportunities

The 116th U.S. Congress provides a chance for dialogue about issues important to the roofing industry

Happy New Year! A new year brings new opportunities and challenges and, I hope, a renewed sense of promise for the future. A new year also brings change.

One change we are following is the new 116th U.S. Congress. This congress brings divided government for the first time in the Trump administration as Democrats swept into power in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Looking at the election results, I was struck by a few things. Democrats surged in suburban congressional districts in an unprecedented fashion. More women than ever won elections, and now nearly 25 percent of the House of Representatives consists of female representation. Yet Republicans continue to do well in rural America. This reshaping of the electoral map certainly will affect future elections as Republicans try to figure out how to relate to suburbanites and female voters, and Democrats attempt to craft a strategy to touch rural ones. During the next few months, there will be more analysis as each political party seeks answers to the shifting electorate.

Democrats have won 40 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them the majority for the first time since 2011. Republicans won two additional seats in the Senate, which gives them a slightly larger majority in that chamber. Remember, in the House of Representatives, a simple majority is all that's needed to move legislation, but in the Senate most legislation requires 60 votes out of 100 to move forward. Welcome to a new era of gridlock. For the next two years we expect only bipartisan legislation to move forward. That's not all bad.

So how will this election affect the roofing industry? Well, it's a mixed bag. House Democrats will be able to block Senate Republicans, so we will see little change in the current state of regulations. Regulations currently in place are likely to remain in place in 2020. I believe it will be difficult to find legislative solutions to immigration, as well. Maybe there is a deal to be made regarding immigrants who were brought here as children and those who came with temporary status protection. It's unlikely comprehensive reform can happen given the number of immigration hard-liners in the administration. Yet we remain hopeful for some movement forward on this topic.

I have been asked a number of times whether the change in November was a "blue wave" and whether the president is responsible for Republican losses. My answer is it doesn't matter. We have the congress the American people have given us, and those are the people we should focus on.

The House Republicans who survived this election will find a Republican conference that is decidedly more conservative and, in some cases, more in alignment with the president than ever before.

Democrats have a more difficult problem. Some newly elected members moved more to the left; however, others came from districts President Trump won in 2016 and are more moderate. This divide in the Democrat majority will give the future speaker of the House problems trying to manage the differences not unlike Speaker Paul Ryan having to manage the conservative freedom caucus members. The new Democratic speaker will have to build coalitions inside the party to move any significant legislation forward.

As the roofing industry prepares for Roofing Day in D.C. 2019, your NRCA team in Washington, D.C., is hard at work with industry stakeholders to determine the issues we will be advocating for with members of Congress.

I encourage you to attend Roofing Day in D.C. 2019 April 3-4. Registration is open, and we encourage all company owners to bring at least one field worker as a guest. Only you can make a difference. See you there.

Reid Ribble is NRCA's CEO.

This column is part of News + Views. Click here to read additional stories from this section.


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