Capitol Correspondence - 11.10.20

What Do We Still Need to Learn About the 117th Congress?

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With down-ballot election results still being tallied in some states, much remains to be known about the power landscape in the next Congress. In coming weeks, stay tuned for updates from ANCOR as we glean answers to the following questions:

What will be Congress’ top agenda items? While we expect COVID-19 to command Congress’ focus, what its response will look like depends on how lame-duck negotiations for a new COVID-19 package proceed and who gains control of the Senate. Political watchers are currently expecting gridlock in the new Congress to affect broader health care reforms, which cabinet appointments move forward and how Congress will shape its budget priorities in advance of 2021, when existing two-year budget deals will be up for re-negotiation.

Will Speaker Pelosi’s leadership of the House receive a challenge? House Democrats will be caucusing to vote on the Speakership. The outcome of their vote will affect who will be negotiating with the Senate for a COVID package, as well as affecting who gets assigned to which committees. Speaker Pelosi is running for another term in that role, but with Democratic discontent over losing seats, it remains to be seen if she will face a challenger or how vulnerable she will be to losing the Speaker’s gavel.

Who will be chairing key committees overseeing our issues? Congressional leadership decides on the size of a committee and, by extension, who will receive a seat on a committee. The factors that affect who holds a committee leadership position are seniority within the committee, term limits on committee chairs (in the Senate) and who holds the majority of the chamber. Leadership can play a role in persuading senior members toward certain committees over others. Learn more on how committees are assigned in the House and Senate.

The committees we work with the most are the Senate Finance Committee; the Senate Special Committee on Aging and Disability; the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee; the House Energy and Commerce Committee; and the House Education and Labor Committee. See a preview of potential contenders for Senate committee chairs in this Politico Pulse article.

How many of our existing congressional champions will be continuing into the 117th Congress?

We list below champions who have kept their seats at the time of this writing. We will update this list once the counts in all races are final.

  • Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO)
  • Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI)
  • Representative Mike Doyle (D-PA)
  • Representative Tom Emmer (R-MN)
  • Representative Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA)
  • Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
  • Representative Jim Langevin (D-RI)
  • Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
  • Representative Seth Moulton (D-MA)
  • Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ)
  • Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA)
  • Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)
  • Representative Steve Stivers (R-OH)
  • Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY)
  • Representative Don Young (R-AK)
  • Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
  • Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)

As we gain insight into these questions in coming weeks, we will keep our members informed of our 2021 policy strategy and opportunities for action.