Wednesday, December 7, 2016

New Committee Leadership Positions Filled

Walden (R-OR) 
Drew Thies

Both Republicans and Democrats recently chose new Members of Congress to fill important committee leadership positions for the upcoming session.

On the Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-Mich.) stepped down due to party-enforced term limits on chairmanships, leaving the way open for Greg Walden (R-Ore.). Walden did not have an uncontested path, however. He was challenged by John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who outranked Walden in seniority, but ended up not getting the top committee position.

Many are focused on the Energy and Commerce in the next Congress, as the committee has jurisdiction over a large part of Medicaid policy.

Sander Levin (D-Mich.) shocked some in Washington when he announced he would be stepping down from the top Democratic post on the Ways and Means Committee. This set up what many imagined would be a contentious race between the next most-senior Democrat on the committee, Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and member of Democratic Leadership Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.).

The potential infighting, however, was quickly avoided when Becerra accepted an offer from California Governor Jerry Brown to serve as Attorney General of the state. The position is currently held by Kamala Harris, who just won a Senate election and will vacate the post in January.

Neal will now serve as the Ranking Democrat on the committee with broad jurisdiction over tax and Medicare policy alongside Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.).

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