DeFazio Names T&I Subcommittee Chairmen for 116th Congress

January 25, 2019

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) yesterday announced the lineup of chairmen of the six subcommittees of the T&I Committee for the 116th Congress.

“These are six dedicated, highly experienced, diverse Members of Congress who will provide each subcommittee with the leadership it needs,” said Chairman Peter DeFazio. “The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has a long history of working in a bipartisan way to get things done for the American people, and each Subcommittee Chair is ready to continue that legacy.”

This follows the January 17 announcement by T&I ranking minority member Sam Graves (R-MO) of the six ranking members for those subcommittees.

Subcommittee Chairman Ranking Member
Aviation Rick Larsen (D-WA) Garret Graves (R-LA)
Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) Bob Gibbs (R-OH)
Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Dina Titus (D-NV) Mark Meadows (R-NC)
Highways and Transit Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Rodney Davis (R-IL)
Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Dan Lipinski (D-IL) Rick Crawford (R-AR)
Water Resources and Environment Grace Napolitano (D-CA) Bruce Westerman (R-AR)

A few observations:

  • Unlike some committees (notably Senate Commerce), T&I is not changing its subcommittee jurisdiction from what it was in the 115th Congress, when Republicans were in charge. In fact, the T&I subcommittee lineup does not appear to have changed since January 2007, when Jim Oberstar (D-MN) took the full committee gavel and moved pipelines and hazmat from the highway and transit subpanel to the rail subpanel.
  • Subcommittees don’t mean what they used to in the House. The last time a highway/transit bill was marked up in subcommittee was 1997, and the last time an aviation reauthorization bill was marked up in subcommittee was 1999. (If I’m wrong about that, please email me.)
  • Unlike Republicans, Democrats don’t have term limits on committee or subcommittee chairmen. And, also unlike the post-1995 GOP, Democrats still have a strict adherence to the seniority system as a very strong norm. So, it was an easy prediction that Norton, the most senior Democrat on the panel behind DeFazio, would choose to keep Highways and Transit (with a reauthorization bill coming up in this Congress and earmarks possibly coming back). And it was an easy prediction that Larsen, the next most senior member eligible for a gavel (since both Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) chair other committees), would choose to keep Aviation (because Boeing).
  • Napolitano was next in the seniority order, and it was also not particularly surprising that she chose to keep Water Resources and Environment, since her district needs water more than it relies on rail service.
  • The seniority order then turned to Dan Lipinski, who (completely unsurprisingly) claimed the Railroads gavel, since Chicago is where most of the nation’s railroads intersect and delay road traffic and each other.

The T&I panel is expected to announce a formal organizational meeting in the next two weeks to ratify the subcommittee membership and adopt committee rules for the 116th Congress.

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