Every new Congress brings changes in committee membership and sometimes in committee leadership. The 114th Congress will follow this pattern, and will bring very significant changes as a result of the new Republican majority in the Senate. Republicans will have more seats on every Senate Committee, and Democrats fewer. Newly elected Senate and House members will not have their committee assignments for several weeks, and subcommittee assignments are not likely to be fully known until January. And given that there are several vacancies on key committees like House Appropriations, House Education and the Workforce, and House Energy and Commerce, expect that returning members are likely to give up current assignments in order to move to these key committees.
In the meantime, following is a summary of what openings we know exist.
House Agriculture Committee:
Vance McCallister (LA) is the only Republican leaving the committee at this point. There are four Democratic vacancies as a result of the departures of Mike McIntyre (NC), Gloria Negrette Mcleod (CA), Pete Gallego (TX) and William Enyart (IL). But more significantly, the Committee will have a new chairman given Chairman Frank Lucas’ announced intention to end his chairmanship. Michael Conaway (TX) is expected to become the new chairman.
House Appropriations Committee:
There will be three significant departures by Republican members who currently chair subcommittees – Frank Wolf (VA) at Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS); Jack Kingston at Labor, Health and Human Services, Education(Labor-HHS), and Tom Latham (IA) at Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD). Robert Aderholt (AL), the current chairman of the Agricutlure, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Subcommittee is said to be thinking about taking the chair of the CJS subcommittee, opening up the chair of the Agriculture FDA Subcommittee to someone new. Three Democrats are leaving – Jim Moran (VA), Ed Pastor (AZ), and Bill Owens (NY).
House Education and the Workforce:
With child nutrition programs like school lunch, school breakfast and the WIC program scheduled for reauthorization in 2015, this committee will be very busy. There will be two Republican departures – Tom Petri (WI) and Howard McKeon (CA). There will be five Democratic vacancies, the most significant of which is the departure of George Miller (CA) who has been a champion of these programs. Congressman Robert Scott (VA) is expected to be the new ranking Democrat on this committee. Other Democratic departures include Carolyn McCarthy (NY), John Tierney (MA), Rush Holt (NJ), and Timothy Bishop (NY).
House Energy and Commerce:
The Energy and Commerce Committee has a very broad reach, including health, energy, food safety, technology, and the environment. There will be many openings on this exclusive committee. Six Republicans are leaving the committee – Ralph Hall (TX), Lee Terry (NE), Mike Rogers (MI), Phil Gingrey (GA), Bill Cassidy (LA), and Cory Gardner (CO). Six Democrats are departing – Henry Waxman (CA) who is currently the ranking Democrat on the Committee, John Dingell (MI) who is Chairman Emeritus, Jim Matheson (UT), John Barrow (GA), Donna M.C. Christensen (VI), Bruce Braley (IA).
House Natural Resources:
With the importance of energy, forestry, public lands, and Native Americans, the expected change in committee leadership with the departure of Chairman Doc Hastings (WA) is significant. Five other Republicans are leaving the committee – Paul Broun (GA), Steve Southerland (FL), Jon Runyan (NJ), Vance McAllister (LA) and Steve Daines (MT). Five Democrats are leaving – Rush Holt (NJ). Colleen Hanabusa (HI), Steven Horsford (NV), Carol Shea Porter (NH), and Joe Garcia (FL).
Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry:
With the change in majorities, it is expected that Senator Pat Roberts (KS) will become chairman. There is still speculation regarding whether or not Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), the current chair, will remain as the Ranking Democrat on the committee, or if that position may go to Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN). Tom Harkin (IA) is the only Democrat not returning. Two Republicans – Saxby Chambliss (GA) and Mike Johanns (NE) are leaving. This committee will be responsible for child nutrition reauthorization in the 114th Congress.
Senator Thad Cochran (MS) is expected to become the new full committee chairman. Senator Johanns (NE) is the only Republican leaving the committee. Three Democrats will be leaving – Tom Harkin (IA), Tim Johnson (SD), and Mark Pryor (AR) who currently chairs the Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee. Senator Roy Blunt (MO) is expected to become the new subcommittee chairman. Two Democrats still do not know the outcomes of their elections. Mary Landrieu (LA) will be in a December runoff, while the election has not yet been called for Mark Begich in Alaska.
Senate Energy & Natural Resources:
Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) is expected to become the new chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Whether or not Mary Landrieu (LA) remains as the Ranking Democrat depends upon the outcome of her December runoff. Two Democrats – Tim Johnson (SD) and Mark Udall (CO) will be leaving the committee.
Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions:
Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) could become the new chairman of the HELP Committee. Two Democrats are leaving – Tom Harkin (IA) who is currently chairman, and Kay Hagan (NC).
Stay tuned for more developments.