Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, the House of Representatives is poised to undergo potentially massive changes that dramatically shift the balance of power in Congress. With all signs pointing to Democrats taking control of Congress, House Democrats have laid out an aggressive legislative agenda for the 116th Congress. The most influential congressional committees will be at the forefront of carrying out the Democrats’ plan, and due to the high turnover and retirements, the composition of the top committees will change significantly.
On the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Reps. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN, 7th) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND, At Large) are running for Senate, and Joe Barton (R-TX, 6th), Ryan Costello (R-PA, 6th), and Gregg Harper (R-MS, 3rd) are retiring. Eight Republicans are currently tight races including vulnerable Representatives Leonard Lance (R-NJ, 7th) and Mimi Walters (R-CA, 45th). Over half of the Republican roster could change for the next Congress.
The situation is equally as dire for Republicans on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC, 4th) is retiring along with John Duncan (R-TN, 2nd), Darrell Issa (R-CA, 49th), and Dennis Ross (R-FL, 15th). Ron DeSantis (R-FL) left Congress early to focus on his gubernatorial race, and Representatives Rod Blum (R-IA, 1st), Greg Gianforte (R-MT, At Large), and Will Hurd (R-TX, 23rd) are in contested races.
Committee chairs will change in the next Congress if Democrats win the majority as well. With each new chair brings a new power dynamic to the committee, setting the legislative agenda for the new Congress. The Committee on Energy and Commerce will be tasked with tackling health care costs and lowering prescription drug prices. Representative Frank Pallone (R-NJ, 6th), currently the top Democrat on the committee, will likely be the new chairman in the 116th Congress. Pallone beat out Representative Anna Eshoo (D-CA, 18th) for the post in 2014, and had an integral part in crafting Obamacare as chairman of the Health subcommittee back in 2010.
Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD, 7th) will be ready to wield his subpoena power as chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform if the Democrats take the House. The Maryland Democrat will be aggressive in investigating Trump administration scandals on everything from potential violations of the emoluments clause to possible impeachment.