NWRA Federal Affairs Alert: 2016 Election Overview and Implications for Water

  • Water
  • by BPC Staff
  • on November 10, 2016

From the Natural Water Resources Association:

As you know Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th President of the United States.  In addition, republicans have held onto the majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Setting up republican control of both the legislative and executive branch for the first time since the 109th Congress (2005-2006).

Below we break down the election results and what it could mean for water users over the next few years. It needs to be said that some of this information, especially about potential political appointees, is based on speculation at this point. However, we can give you an idea about some of the individuals that are in play and also provide some perspective on what to expect in the world of water policy over the next few years.

We will go into more detail on each of these topics and begin planning for the next congress at the NWRA Annual conference next week.  Confirmed speakers on our Inside Washington panel include David Bernhardt, lead of the Trump Interior transition team. As always, and with your assistance, NWRA is dedicated to ensuring that water issues are seen as a national priority.


Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States by surpassing the 270 Electoral College votes necessary to become President. President Elect Trump has locked up 279 Electoral College votes to Hillary Clinton’s 228 Electoral College votes.

Positions on Water Policy:

During the campaign President Elect Trump weighed in on infrastructure including the following points relating to water policy.

  • Regulatory Reform: would eliminate the “Waters of the United States” rule and the Clean Power Plan; more generally, would link increased investments with positive reforms to infrastructure programs that reduce waste and cut costs; and
  • Municipal Water Investment: would develop a long-term water infrastructure plan with city, state, and federal leaders to upgrade aging water systems; would support tripling funding for state revolving loan fund programs to help states and local governments upgrade critical drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.- If we look at the FY2017 EPA Budget request this would bring Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds from $2 billion up to $6 billion. If based off of FY 2016 enacted levels it would bring funding from $2.257 billion up to$ 6.77 billion.

NWRA will work to ensure that water for both agricultural and municipal purposes is a priority for the Trump Administration. We will also work to ensure that the Administration has an appreciation and understanding of the importance of western water and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Interior Secretary:

Jan Brewer (former Governor of Arizona)

Mary Fallin (current Governor of Oklahoma)

Robert Grady (former H.W. Bush White House official and venture capitalist)

Harold Hamm (Oklahoma businessman in oil)

Forrest Lucas (Indiana businessman co-founder, Lucas Oil)

Cynthia Lummis (retiring member of the House of Representatives for Wyoming)

Butch Otter (current Governor of Idaho)

Sarah Palin (former Alaska Governor)

Donald Trump Jr. (sportsmen and son of Donald Trump)

Agriculture Secretary:

There are more than 70 individuals on the Trump agricultural advisory committee various media reports have floated the following as possible top contenders:

Sam Brownback (Governor of Kansas)

Chuck Connor (CEO National Council of Farmer Cooperatives)

Dave Heineman (Governor of Nebraska)

Ted McKinnely (Director Indiana Department of Ag)

Sonny Perdue (Former Governor of Georgia)

Rick Perry (former Governor of Texas)

Don Villwock (President Indiana Farm Bureau

Environmental Protection Agency:

Joe Aiello (Director New Jersey Department of Environment)

Carol Comer (Commissioner Indiana Dept.  of Environmental Management)

Myron Ebell (Competitive Enterprise institute)

Robert Grady (former H.W. Bush White House official and venture capitalist)

Leslie Rutledge (Arkansas Attorney)

Supreme Court:

President Elect Trump will fill at least one Supreme Court slot, that of former Justice Antonin Scalia. However, he could be positioned to full multiple slots over the next four years. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83, Justice Anthony Kennedy is 80 and Justice Stephen G. Bryer is 78.

The Trump campaign has released several lists naming a total of 21 individuals that could serve on the court under in his administration. Mr. Trump has indicated that this list will serve as “a guide” that he would consider when making a selection, indicating that the next Justice isn’t guaranteed to come from this list.  Names on the list include 20 judges and one Senator.

Potential Supreme Court Justices: Keith Blackwell, Charles Canady, Steven Colloton, Alison Eid, Neil Gorsuch, Raymond Gruender, Thomas Hardiman, Raymond Kethledge, Joan Larsen, Mike Lee (Senator from UT has said he is not interested), Thomas Lee, Edward Mansfield, Federico Moreno, William Pryor, Margaret A. Ryan, Amul Thapar, Timothy Tymkovich, David Stras, Diane Sykes, Don Willett and Robert Young.


Republicans maintain control of the Senate by holding 51 seats at current count. Democrats saw a small gain, picking up a seat in Illinois where Democrat Tammy Duckworth defeated incumbent Republican Senator Mark Kirk. Democrats are currently slated to hold 47 seats (including two independents that caucus with the democrats) next year. Democrats could also pick up another Senate seat in New Hampshire where Democrat Maggie Hassan is currently leading incumbent republican Senator Kelly Ayotte. There is a 1,000-vote difference in this race and, while Hassan has claimed victory, Ayotte has not conceded the race and has until Monday to file for a recount.

Republicans are expected to pick up one more Senate seat in Louisiana where a runoff election will take place on December 10th.  Regardless, republicans will keep the majority in the Senate but with a diminished majority, down from the 54 seats they held in the 114th Congress.

We do not expect any major shifts in leadership in the Senate in the 115th Congress with the exception of the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW). Current Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe will term out as Chair at the end of the year and Ranking Member Barbara Boxer is retiring at the end of this Congress. The most likely candidate to take the EPW gavel is Wyoming Senator John Barrasso.

The EPW picture on the democrat side for ranking member is less clear. The three most senor democrats on the EPW Committee currently serve as the ranking member on other committees. Senator Tom Carper of Delaware is ranking on the Homeland Security Committee. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland is the ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Bernie Sanders sits as the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee.  It is not anticipated that Carper, Cardin or Sanders will give up their current positions to take over the helm at EPW for democrats.  This leaves Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island as the next inline to serve as the EPW Committee’s lead democrat.


Republicans will maintain the majority in the 115th Congress but are down from the current majority of 247 seats to a new total of 239 (need 218 to hold the majority). As of today, democrats are set to hold 193 seats in the House next year. They picked up seats in Florida, including a defeat of former Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica, as well as Nevada’s 4th Congressional district where Rubin Kihuen defeated republican incumbent Cresent Hardy.

The biggest change in House Committee leadership next year will be seen at the Energy and Commerce Committee. Chairman Fred Upton terms out and there are multiple members interested in taking the gavel. Leading contenders include Congressman Greg Walden of Oregon, Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois, and former committee chairman Joe Barton of Texas.

Next Steps:

We will be wading into all of these issues next week and laying the groundwork to ensure that water users have a seat at the table in the 115th Congress. We hope that you will be able to join us for these discussions. If you are unable to join us in person but would still like to provide input or get additional information please feel free to reach out to NWRA staff.

Election Fact:

Did you know farmers are the reason that the election is held on a Tuesday in November? Read about it HERE.

Tags: , , ,