NAB Overview: 116th Congress Leadership and Committee Projections

NABThe next Congress will mean new faces and perspectives and a switch to the Dem-controlled House of Representatives. The shift will have implications for several issues of importance to the broadcasters. Below you’ll find the NAB’s overview of the next Congressional Leadership and Committee Projections, including Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, Ways and Means and Finance committees.

U.S. Senate: 51 Republican, 46 Democrat; 3 undecided

Leadership: Not much change is expected in the Senate leadership lineups, with the exception of Sen. John Thune (R-SD). Thune will likely take the number two leadership position as Republican whip that needs to be vacated by Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who is term-limited. Sens. McConnell (R-KY) and Schumer (D-NY) will likely maintain the top Senate leadership posts in their parties.

Commerce: Likely Chairman – Roger Wicker (MS); Likely Ranking Member – TBD

  • Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) currently trails narrowly in a race that will likely head to a recount. Should he retain his seat, he will continue to serve as the committee’s ranking member. Should he be defeated, the top Democrat on the committee will likely be Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA).
  • Election Night Losses: Dean Heller (NV).

Judiciary: Likely Chairman – Lindsay Graham (SC); Likely Ranking Member – Dianne Feinstein (CA)

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (IA), the current chair, has not yet announced his decision to leave that post, but it is widely rumored that he will vacate it to take the Finance Committee gavel. Sen. Graham is his most likely successor. Sen. Graham will also be considered a lead contender to fill the now vacant Attorney General post. Should Sen. Graham step aside, Sen. Cornyn (TX) is the next most senior committee Republican.
  • Election Night Losses: None.

Finance:  Likely Chairman – Chuck Grassley (IA); Likely Ranking Member – Ron Wyden (OR)

  • Should Sen. Grassley stay atop Judiciary, Sen. Mike Crapo (ID) would likely take the top Finance Republican spot.
  • Election Night Losses: Claire McCaskill (MO).

Appropriations:  Likely Chairman – Richard Shelby (AL); Likely RM – Patrick Leahy (VT)

  • Election Night Losses: None.

Other significant losses:  The retirement of Sen. Orrin Hatch (UT) is a significant one for broadcasters, as is the Election Day loss of Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (ND).

U.S. House of Representatives: 226 Democrat, 198 Republican; 11 undecided

Leadership: Leadership of both parties in the House is currently unclear. The most likely scenario for Democrats keeps the current structure in place, with Nancy Pelosi (CA-12) once again ascending to Speaker of the House, Steny Hoyer (MD-5) remaining in the number two slot as Majority Leader and Jim Clyburn (SC-6) occupying the role of Majority Whip. But these decisions will not be made until the week of November 28. A looming question is whether the influx of new blood resulting from last night’s election generates a more vocal call for younger party leaders. Even if Pelosi and Hoyer can head that off, expect them to deal with this pressure by bringing at least one representative of this new generation into their leadership team. Leading contenders will be Reps. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-3), Hakeem Jeffries (NY-8) and Cheri Bustos (IL-17), among others.

Republicans will elect their leadership next week with Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), the heavy favorite to ascend to the top position of Minority Leader, and Steve Scalise (LA-1), the favorite to take the number two slot in Republican leadership as Republican Whip. Jim Jordan (OH-4) will mount a bid to challenge Rep. McCarthy for Leader, although at this point that looks like a long shot. Of course, both parties are still grappling with the takeaways from Tuesday’s election, and that post-mortem could provide momentum for outside challengers in both caucuses.

Energy and Commerce: Likely Chairman – Frank Pallone (NJ-6); Likely Ranking Member – Greg Walden (OR-2)

    • Election Night Losses: Leonard Lance (NJ-7), Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) to Senate, Kevin Cramer (ND-At large) to Senate.

Judiciary: Likely Chairman – Jerry Nadler (NY-10); Likely Ranking Member – Doug Collins (GA-9)

      • Election Night Losses: Keith Rothfus (PA-17).

Ways and Means: Likely Chairman – Richard Neal (MA-1); Likely Ranking Member – Kevin Brady (TX-8)

      • Election Night Losses: Peter Roskam (IL-6), Erik Paulsen (MN-3), Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), Mike Bishop (MI-8).

Appropriations: Likely Chairman – Nita Lowey (NY-17); Likely Ranking Member – TBD

      • The race for the top Republican spot between Kay Granger (TX-12), Tom Graves (GA-14), Tom Cole (OK-4) and Robert Aderholt (AL-4) will be decided by the House Republican Steering Committee next week.
      • Election Night Losses: John Culberson (TX-7), Kevin Yoder (KS-3), David Young (IA-3), Scott Taylor (VA-2).

Other significant losses: Speaker Paul Ryan is the most prominent House retiree this cycle, but he has a lot of company. House retirements hit our committees of interest hard, with Republican retirements and losses totaling at least six Energy and Commerce members; seven Judiciary members (with several others already having left and been replaced this Congress); 10 Ways and Means members and five appropriators. Only one Democrat is retiring from each of the first three committees, and no Democratic appropriator is retiring.

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