New Chairmen, Ranking Members of House Committees Selected

This week, House party caucuses selected almost all of the new committee chairmen and ranking minority members for the upcoming 117th Congress.

Leadership at the top of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee stayed the same, with chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and ranking minority member Sam Graves (R-MO) being retained at those posts by their colleagues. But there were changes elsewhere.

Appropriations. Since chairman Nita Lowey (D-NY) is retiring from Congress, there was a three-way contest to replace her between (in order of seniority) Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). The Democratic Steering Committee recommended DeLauro, after which Kaptur decided to drop her bid. The Democratic Caucus chose DeLauro over Wasserman Schultz by a secret ballot vote of 148 to 79. Kay Granger (R-TX) remains ranking minority member.

DeLauro had proposed bringing back Congressional earmarks as part of her campaign, but the resolution of that question is not up to her. We may get some more details when the Democratic Caucus debates and then releases the proposed rules of the House for the upcoming Congress, which must be adopted by the House on Opening Day (January 3, if not postponed). (See this article for ways to improve the earmarking process, should Congress decide to bring it back.)

Homeland Security. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) remains as chairman, but the ranking minority member, Mike Rogers (R-AL), was selected by his colleagues this week to take over the ranking minority slot on the Armed Services Committee (being vacated by the retirement of Mac Thornberry (R-TX)). No contest for the soon-t0-be-vacant Homeland post could commence until Rogers beat out two colleagues for the Armed Services job, so that has still not been decided. The only person who has said they want the job (so far) is John Katko (R-NY), who is also the most senior Republican eligible for the job.

Budget. The Budget Committees haven’t mattered much lately, but they may matter again if Congress is ever under unified control, or if anyone is inclined to take steps to reform the Highway Trust Fund and its almost-unique budgetary status. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) was reelected chairman, but the ranking Republican retired, and Jason Smith (R-MO) was selected to replace him.

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