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Capitol Correspondence - 11.13.18

Champions’ Musical Chairs: Who’s In, Who’s Out, and Who’s Boss?

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The election’s tides removed some ANCOR allies while bringing in potential new champions, and is leading to a reshuffling of key Senate and House committee seats. Here is a brief rundown of the new Congressional landscape:

LOST CHAMPIONS:

  • U.S. Representative Gregg Harper (R-MI), parent of a son with I/DD and co-chair of the Congressional Bipartisan Disability Caucus, retired before the election.
  • U.S. Representative Pete Roskam (R-IL), who had championed ANCOR’s efforts to obtain federal recognition of DSPs, lost his re-election bid.
  • U.S. Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX), parent of a son with I/DD, also lost his re-election bid.
  • U.S. Representative Barbara Comstock (R-VA), who had begun being involved with several ANCOR priority issues, lost her re-election bid.

POTENTIAL CHAMPIONS:

While at this point it is unclear how each new member of Congress’ priorities will shape up as they assume office, many of the New York, Kansas and Connecticut successful candidates campaigned on the strength of health care and Medicaid, signaling opportunities for I/DD issues. Additionally, some members are well-versed in health care issues, such as U.S. Representative-Elect Donna Shalala (D-FL), a previous U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and U.S. Representative-Elect Lauren Underwood (D-IL), a nurse. ANCOR will be conducting outreach to all incoming Congressional freshmen and will keep members informed of opportunities to connect.

KEY CHANGES IN COMMITTEE LEADERSHIP:

  • It is rumored that U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will take the reins of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicaid on the Senate side. While we will not receive confirmation of that for a few days yet, this is a promising rumor as ANCOR has a strong relationship with Senator Grassley’s staff.
  • U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is the most likely chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees Medicaid on the House side. ANCOR also considers this promising given our close relationship with his staff.

CHANGES IN PARTY LEADERSHIP TO BE AWARE OF:

  • The Speakership of the House will now shift to Democratic hands. At this point, it is unclear whether U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), currently the Democratic / Minority Leader, will be voted in as Speaker by the Democratic caucus or challenged. ANCOR will keep members informed once the caucus makes a decision.
  • Republican House leadership will undergo a shuffle to fill in the void left in the 116th Congress by the retirement of current Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). [UPDATED November 15. 2018: Current Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) won the House Republican Caucus vote for Minority Leader in the 116th Congress, holding off a challenge from U.S. Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH). Representative McCarthy is viewed as a “mainstream” Republican, while Representative Jordan is a key figure within the more conservative House Freedom Caucus.]
  • There will also be shuffles in other key policy positions, as members of Congress decide whether to vie for positions such as party Whip or Conference Chair. One example is U.S. Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH), an ANCOR ally who has decided to not run for the National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman position – he remains in office as a member of Congress. [UPDATED November 15, 2018: Likewise, U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers will not be seeking to renew her position as Republican Conference Chair although she also remains in office as a member of Congress.]