A lot happened as a result of Tuesday’s elections and we are here to help you sort through it all. Below is a brief analysis of the election results and a glimpse at what we can expect in the makeup of congressional leadership as well as the tax writing committees.
The Balance of Congress & Leadership Changes
The headline from Tuesday is that Republicans have taken control of the Senate, picking up at least seven seats (with two more likely), giving them a majority of at least 52-45. Alaska and Virginia are still processing results, and there will be a runoff on December 6 between incumbent Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Representative Bill Cassidy (R-LA). Neither of those candidates earned the required 50 percent plus-1 margin necessary to win the seat outright.
Current Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will likely take over as Majority Leader next year. His deputies are also set to take over leadership positions accordingly. Current Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he will run for Minority Leader with the other top three Democrats in the Senate – Dick Durbin (D-IL.), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) – having already pledged their support.
In the House, Republicans are projected to increase their margin of control by at least 13 seats, which gives the GOP its largest majority since World War II. Current Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to remain in charge with few changes, if any, to his leadership deputies. For the Democrats, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to remain Minority Leader and her deputies are expected to maintain their posts as well.
It is worth noting the Republican wave also netted four additional governorships.
Senate Finance Committee
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is expected to become Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The makeup of the committee will also change to reflect the new Senate majority. The first task for Republicans will be determining how large each committee should be along with the ratio of Republican to Democrat members. These ratios are negotiated by leaders in both parties and typically reflect the Senate’s overall breakdown. Currently, there are 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans on Finance, which is approximately the same proportion as in the entire Senate.
If the Republicans add another member, names that are circulating to join the committee include Senators Dan Coats (R-IN), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Roy Blunt (R-MO).
Ways and Means Committee
While the House majority will remain Republican, the GOP increased its margin and will get to fill a few more seats on the Ways and Means Committee.
The members of the House Republican Steering Committee are in charge of choosing new members for open committee seats. The Steering Committee will meet in the next few weeks and consult the Committee’s regional representatives to identify potential candidates for open slots on all House committees.
With Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) retiring and the election now over, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has formally announced his intention to seek the Ways and Means gavel. It is still possible he could face a challenge from Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), but Ryan is widely considered the favorite. While every other Ways and Means Member won re-election, Representatives Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR) are retiring at the end of the year. For the Democrats, Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) unsuccessfully ran for governor and had to give up her seat.
Names that are circulating to join the committee include Reps. Kristi L. Noem (R-SD) and Patrick Meehan (R-PA) as almost shoo-ins, and a third to be selected from Reps. George Holding (R-NC), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Reid J. Ribble (R-WI), Tom Rice (R-SC), Todd Rokita (R-IN) and Jason T. Smith (R-MO).