Committees play a major role in considering, shaping, and passing laws that help govern our nation, so the members of Congress who hold positions of power within committees is incredibly important in regard to what legislation is passed in each Congress. For the 117th Congress, beginning Jan. 3, there will be quite a few shakeups in committee leadership.
The Democrats, who still hold a slim majority in the House, released the list of committee chairs on Dec. 3. This list was recommended by the Democratic Steering Committee earlier that week, and then ratified by the Democratic Caucus. After a tumultuous elections cycle, a few of the most influential House Committees saw turnover in their Democratic leadership.
Collin Peterson (D-MN), who chaired the committee for the last three sessions of congress, lost his campaign for reelection, allowing David Scott (D-GA) to win the Chairmanship and become the first Black chair of the Committee on Agriculture in chamber history. This position is well-deserved for the most senior member of the committee returning for the 117th congress. This change marks a shift in tradition of selecting a chair from a rural area, as Scott represents portions of metropolitan Atlanta, denoting a growing importance of the committee’s work with the school lunch program and food stamps.
Following the retirement of current Chair Nita Lowey (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) will be taking over as Chair of the Committee on Appropriations. This comes after over a year of behind the scenes campaigning by DeLauro for the seat. With a long record of support for more progressive causes, DeLauro had the support from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and outgoing Chair Nita Lowey, and it was these endorsements, among others from high ranking house democrats, that ultimately won her the position. The passage of an emergency spending package for COVID-19 aid will be at the forefront for the committee, but the potential reappearance of earmarks during the next session of congress, could mean a very different playing field for DeLauro come January.
Current Chair Eliot Engel (D-NY), lost his primary election in 2020, sparking an intense race for Chairmanship of won of the most influential house committees. The seat was ultimately awarded to Gregory Meeks (D-NY), making him the first Black Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs. The third highest ranking democrat on the committee, Meeks beat out Joaquin Castro (D-TX) for the seat. Meeks is a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and a supporter of progressive foreign policy positions, all the while maintaining good relationships with both democrats and republicans on the committee, making him exceptionally qualified for the position. His focus in the 117th congress will be mending and rebuilding trans-Atlantic alliances and boosting morale within the State Department.
The Republicans, who gained major ground in the 2020 election cycle, followed a similar process for determining the Ranking Members for this session’s Congressional Committees. Unofficial nominees were announced early in the week, based off of recommendations from the House Republican Steering Committee, then an official list was released the morning of December 3rd, 2020, after the nominees were ratified by the House Republican Conference.
Major Committees like the Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on the Judiciary maintained the same ranking members with Representative Kay Granger and Representative Jim Jordan, respectively, reclaiming their seats, but there were quite a few shifts in leadership throughout other committees.
The Ranking Member position for the Committee on Agriculture is currently held by Mike Conaway (R-TX), but come January 3, 2021, the position will be taken over by Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA). Thompson previously served as Vice Chair for the committee and was the ranking member on three of its subcommittees. The representative comes from a family of dairy farmers so he recognizes the importance of the American agricultural industry and as the most frequent speaker on the House floor for the past seven years, Rep. Thompson will make sure his voice is heard in his position as Ranking Member.
Current Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX), will be replaced by Mike Rogers (R-AL) in the 117th Congress. Rogers previously served as Chairman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee for four years and also served on the Armed Service Readiness Committee. In this new position, Rogers hopes to help modernize the United States military and focus energy on relations with China.
Jason Smith (R-MO) will be taking over the Ranking Member position of the Committee on the Budget in the upcoming congress. The position is currently by Steve Womack (R-AR). Smith has served on the Committee on the Budget and the Committee on Ways and Means where he worked to undo what he deemed to be burdensome regulations and limiting taxes. His focus as Ranking member will be on economic, educational, and community security, as well as protecting the American working class.
Current Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) will be retiring after the 116th Congress and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) will be taking his place as Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. McMorris Rodgers is a proven leader with six years of service as Chair of the House Republican Conference. A champion for clean, reliable, and affordable energy, McMorris Rodgers will help to fight for a better America, and be a strong leader for her Republican colleagues.
Retiring Member Rob Bishop (R-UT) will be relinquishing his Ranking Membership of the Committee on Natural Resources to Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) in the 117th Congress. With a Master of Forestry from Yale University, Westerman is uniquely qualified to take on this role and has served on the Committee since he began his tenure in Congress. He aims to use market-based conservation to aid in the use and preservation of America’s natural resources.
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), will be replacing Steve Chabot (R-OH) as Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business in the upcoming congress. A key leader in the Paycheck Protection Program and a former small business owner, Luetkemeyer’s knowledge and experience will guide his actions as Ranking Member. His focus will be on rebuilding and reopening the economy.
Ranking Member Phil Roe (R-TN) will be retiring after the 116th Congress, his position will be taken over by Mike Bost (R-IL) in the new congress. Bost currently serves as the Ranking Member for the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs on the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and is a Veteran himself. During his tenure on the committee, Bost has helped streamline the veterans’ benefits appeals process, decreasing the appeals backlog by 80%. The former marine is committed to public service and getting results for his fellow veterans.
Here is a list of current House committees and leadership positions that have been released for the 117th Congress:
Chair – David Scott
Ranking Member – Glenn “GT” Thompson
Chair – Rosa DeLauro
Ranking Member – Kay Granger
Chair – Adam Smith
Ranking Member – Mike Rogers
Chair – John Yarmuth
Ranking Member – Jason Smith
Chair – Bobby Scott
Ranking Member – Virginia Foxx
Chair – Frank Pallone
Ranking Member – Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Chair – Maxine Waters
Ranking Member – Patrick McHenry
Chair – Gregory Meeks
Ranking Member – Michael McCaul
Chair – Bennie Thompson
Chair – Zoe Lofgren
Chair – Jerrold Nadler
Ranking Member – Jim Jordan
Chair – Raul Grijalva
Ranking Member – Bruce Westerman
Chair – Carolyn Maloney
Ranking Member – James Comer
Chair – Jim McGovern
Chair – Eddie Bernice Johnson
Ranking Member – Frank Lucas
Chair – Nydia Velazquez
Ranking Member – Blaine Luetkemeyer
Chair – Peter DeFazio
Ranking Member – Sam Graves
Chair – Mark Takano
Ranking Member – Mike Bost
Chair – Richard Neal
Ranking Member – Kevin Brady