capital report: november 13, 2018

The 2018 Election in Five Bullet Points

1. Democrats won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, gaining at least 35 seats (a few races remain undecided). Democrats needed to gain 23 seats in order to secure the majority and were expected by most analysts to shift the balance by about 30 seats.

2. Republicans expanded their lead in the U.S. Senate, picking up at minimum three seats: Indiana, North Dakota and Missouri. Florida is currently undergoing a manual recount with Republican Rick Scott leading by just over 12,000 votes. Democrats picked up two seats (Nevada and Arizona) while holding onto two tough seats in states where Trump is very popular (Montana and West Virginia).

3. Democrats flipped seven governorships, with Georgia still undecided, while Republicans flipped one governorship (Alaska). Excluding Georgia, Republicans now control 26 governorships and Democrats control 23.

4. Democrats had a net gain of five state legislative chambers. Democrats now control 37 state chambers, while Republicans control 62. Democrats flipped over 370 state-level seats on election night, winning back a significant chunk of the 900+ seats lost during Obama’s tenure.

5. Democrats had a net gain of six “trifectas,” which occur when one party controls both state chambers as well as the governorship. Republicans had a net loss of four trifectas, excluding the result in Georgia. As of today, only 13 states will have divided government, down from 16 prior to the election.

Source: Ballotpedia


Caucus Member Profile: Brendan Boyle

Capital Report will regularly feature profiles of Auto Care Caucus members. The Auto Care Caucus is a bipartisan organization made up of lawmakers from across the United States. Members include elected officials in Congress who have an interest in protecting the safety and economic wellbeing of American consumers and the livelihood of the auto care industry.

U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., has represented Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district since 2014 and currently serves as co-chair of the Auto Care Caucus. He sits on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as the Committee on Budget. Auto Care Association staff had the opportunity to ask Congressman Boyle some questions about autos and advocacy.

Do you have a dream car? 

“Probably a BMW convertible. Although I am happy with my current car, an American-made hybrid.”

What do you think is the most common vehicle repair job?

“I’d have to guess an oil change is the most common, since it needs to be done every few thousand miles.”

What’s been your most memorable moment from your time in Congress?

“My most memorable moment in Congress was meeting Pope Francis. The week before his visit I broke my ankle playing football so when I met him my leg was in a cast and I was sitting in a wheelchair. I’m sad to say my leg didn’t heal any faster than it was supposed to after the encounter.”

What’s a common misconception about Congress?

“People view Democrats and Republicans as being enemies who can’t agree on anything. In fact, we personally get along quite well, and we pass dozens of important bills each session. Some of my good friends on the Hill are Republicans who I have come to know well from the House Members Gym.”

What’s the best way your constituents can get in touch with you to talk about an issue?

“Call or email one of my five offices any time! We love hearing constituents’ insights and perspectives on the issues of the day, and we are also happy to assist anyone navigate the federal bureaucracy. Constituent service is my highest priority in office, from accessing veterans’ benefits to applying for healthcare services.”

Visit Congressman Boyle’s website:


New House Leadership Will Impact Industry Policy Priorities

With Democrats winning control of the U.S. House of Representatives, there is already consensus on which leaders will likely step into the key committee chair roles and thus drive policy over the next two years. Working with committee chairs is a core component of the Auto Care Association’s lobbying strategy, as these individuals control which issues advance through the legislative process.

Energy and Commerce: Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., Energy and Commerce Ranking Member since 2014, is expected to step into the chairman role of this influential committee. This committee oversees health insurance and environmental issues as well as the vehicle data issue—an issue in which the auto care industry is heavily invested. In partnership with the Ways and Means Committee, Energy and Commerce is expected to push for some “fixes” to the Affordable Care Act in early 2019.

Ways and Means: Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., will likely take control of the Ways and Means Committee, which holds full responsibility for taxes as well as a range of other issues, including international trade. Beyond securing President Trump’s tax returns for oversight/political purposes, Neal is expected to address two recent legislative feats: the Affordable Care Act and last year’s tax cuts. Trump’s controversial trade policies will also be a primary focus of this committee in 2019.

Judiciary: Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is expected to become the next chair of the Judiciary Committee, which will play a key role in oversight, including managing the Russia investigation and other criminal investigations involving the Trump administration. The Auto Care Association hopes that the change in committee leadership will lead to legislation amending the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to ensure the auto care industry has access to embedded vehicle software necessary for replacement parts development and repair.

Transportation and Infrastructure: Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Ranking Member for Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is the favorite to step into the chairman’s seat. DeFazio has long sought major federal infrastructure legislation—perhaps an opportunity for Congress and the White House to work together.

Education and the Workforce: Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., will become chair of the Education of the Workforce Committee. Raising the minimum wage, mandatory paid family leave and college affordability comprise the topics the committee is likely to prioritize in early 2019.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


ICYMI: U.S. Copyright Office Grants Software Exemption to Third Parties

On Oct. 26, in response to a joint petition from the Auto Care Association and Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the U.S. Copyright Office expanded exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that had previously only allowed vehicle owners the right to legally circumvent embedded vehicle software. The decision, which grants third-party service providers as well as replacement part and tool manufacturers access to this software, is a major victory for the auto care industry.

Furthermore, the Copyright Office adopted the Auto Care Association’s recommendation to remove previous language excluding vehicle telematics and entertainment programs from any exemption. According to the final rule, “The Acting Register was persuaded that, due to increasing integration of vehicle computer systems since the 2015 rulemaking, retaining this limitation may impede non-infringing uses that can only be accomplished by incidentally accessing these systems.”

The new exemptions will remain in place for three years, after which the U.S. Copyright Office must decide whether to continue to support the same exemptions. The Auto Care Association will continue to push Congress for legislation amending the DMCA, which would resolve this issue permanently.

Questions? Contact Aaron Lowe.

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