Election Impact on Congressional Committees

The analysis below is simply a prediction of who is likely to serve as leadership on the committees based on the current information available. Frequently after a large number of losses or retirements, members of Congress shift between committees and chair/ranking member positions, changing the seniority structure of committees as a result. One Senator choosing to take an unexpected chair position can have ripple effects across several committees that are difficult to predict. This is particularly true at the subcommittee level. Additionally, Republicans have established a six-year term limit for committee chairs and ranking members, which causes more committee changes than Democrats who don’t have a term limit.

Finally, one of the biggest impacts on committee change is a flip of party control or a dramatic change in majority size. The committee structure is based on majority party and size, and when for example Senate Republicans increase their majority overall in the Senate, their control of committee seats also increases. Depending on how the remaining three Senate races are called, it could force lower-seniority Democrats off committees.

Appropriations

The House Appropriations Committee will see some turnover in the 116th Congress; while all Democrats won his/her races, four Republican members either lost or are retiring, in addition to Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.V.) who retired earlier this year.

The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Subcommittee will look very different next year. Included in the Republican losses/retirements are two members of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee, Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) and Rep. David Young (R-Iowa). Also retiring is full committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.). There may be some consistency in the THUD leadership, as current Chair Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) will have the option of remaining chair if he chooses.

Democratic leadership on the committee is expected to remain fairly stable. Current Ranking Member Nita Lowey has stated that she will take over the gavel in January and has already started pushing Republicans to make a budget deal for FY 2020. THUD Ranking Member David Price (D-N.C.) also has the option of taking over as chair of the subcommittee.

The Senate Appropriations Committee will have far less turnover in the 116th Congress and leadership will likely remain the same. Only a single member of the committee is at risk of losing her seat; Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith was forced into a run-off election that will take place on November 27.

Full Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) will remain in the top position on the committee, which he took over in April after the retirement of former chair Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has the option of remaining ranking member, though as a high-ranking Democrat he may have other committee options. Leadership of the THUD Subcommittee is likely to continue with current Chair Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ranking Member Jack Reed (D-R.I.).

Authorizing Committees

As a result of a high number of losses and retirements, the House Financial Services Committee will be a significantly different committee in the next Congress. Eight Republicans either lost their re-election bid or are retiring and four additional races are too close to call. Four Democrats are retiring.

Current Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-Cali.) will take over as chair in January. Current Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) is retiring and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) has declared his intention to take over as ranking member. Leadership of the Housing and Insurance Subcommittee is likely to remain the same, with current Ranking Member Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) expected to take the chair position and current Chair Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.) likely to be ranking member. The composition of the subcommittee will be extremely different, though, as six Republican members and two Democrats will not return to Congress.

Unlike the big changes coming to Financial Services, the membership of the Senate Banking Committee is likely to remain consistent. Only two Republicans and two Democrats lost their re-election or are retiring. Leadership could see some changes, though. Depending on the committees that other members choose to chair, current Chair Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) could move to head another committee. There are several scenarios that could result in either Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) or Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.) taking over the committee. Current Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is expected to remain in his position.

Tax Writing Committees

The Senate Finance Committee is set for a change in leadership thanks to the retirement of current Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). It’s unclear at this point who will take over, though Sen. Grassley does have the option of taking the Chairmanship if he is willing to give up his current role as the Chair of the Judiciary Committee. If he elects to remain at Judiciary, current Banking Committee Chair Mike Crapo would be next in line for the position. Current Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) will probably remain in place, though if he does take a position on another committee, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) would be next in line. I

The House Ways and Means Committee will be lead by current Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and current Chair Kevin Brady will probably take over as Ranking Member, though he will need to request a waiver from leadership.

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