United States: ML Strategies' Election Forecast On Congressional Leadership Changes

Co-authored by Matthew Miller

With the election just a week away, ML Strategies, Mintz Levin's consulting affiliate, has conducted in-depth analysis of possible House and Senate committee leadership changes, including committees that effect energy technology policies. Leadership of a number of House and Senate committees is bound to change due to term-limits, retirements, and perhaps election results, including the Energy and Commerce and Natural Resources House committees, and the Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works Senate committees. ML Strategies has outlined those potential changes in either a Republican- or a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. To read more about these potential Congressional leadership changes, read on!

Among Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce committee, Rep. John Shimkus (IL) and Rep. Greg Walden (OR) are expected to run for Chair/Ranking Member because Rep. Fred Upton (MI) is term-limited. Rep. Shimkus has more seniority on the committee than Rep. Walden, but Walden is completing his second term leading the Republican National Congressional Committee. Both are well-liked within the Republican Caucus and are adept fundraisers. Rep. Joe Barton (TX) has the most seniority on the committee and could also choose to run for Chairman or Ranking Member. Sources are indicating that should the Democrats gain control of the House, Rep. Barton would be less interested in running for Ranking Member. Additionally, Rep. Barton is already term-limited as the top Republican on the committee and would have to seek a waiver to serve as the next Chair or Ranking Member. On the Democrats' side, Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ) would likely remain the Ranking Member if the Republicans control the House and would likely become Chairman if the Democrats control the House.

On the House Natural Resources committee, Republican Rob Bishop (UT) would likely remain the Chairman if the Republicans control the House and would likely become the Ranking Member if the Democrats took control. For the Democrats, Rep. Raul Grijalva (AZ) could remain the Ranking Member if the Republicans retain the House and could become Chairman if the Democrats win control. However, Rep. Grijalva could choose to run for Chair/Ranking Member of the Education and the Workforce Committee if Rep. Bobby Scott (VA) is appointed to the Senate to replace Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine. It is unclear who would run for or become Chair/Ranking Member of Natural Resources in that scenario.

In the Senate, Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) would likely remain Chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources committee if the Republicans win the Senate. However, if the Democrats control the Senate, Sen. John Barrasso (WY) could become the Ranking Member because Sen. Murkowski is term-limited as Ranking Member of Energy and Natural Resources. Sen. Barrasso could also choose to become the Ranking Member of Environment and Public Works, in which case, Sen. Jim Risch (ID) could become the Ranking Member of Energy and Natural Resources. However, sources are indicating that Sen. Barrasso, who represents a Western coal state, would likely choose to become the Ranking Member of Energy and Natural Resources, in part because it would allow Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (WV), a rising female star in the GOP who hails from an Eastern coal state, to become the Ranking Member of Environment and Public Works. For the Democrats, Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA) would likely remain the Ranking Member if Republicans remain in control or become the Chairwoman for Energy and Natural Resources if the Democrats win the Senate. Though highly unlikely, there is a scenario in which, Sen. Jack Reed (RI) becomes the Chair/Ranking Member of Appropriations and Sen. Bill Nelson (FL) then takes over as Chair/Ranking Member of Armed Services. In that unlikely case, Sen. Cantwell could choose to become the Chair/Ranking Member of Commerce, opening up the top Democratic slot on Energy and Natural Resources to Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT). (Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) would be next in line after Sen. Cantwell on Energy and Natural Resources, but Sen. Wyden will remain the Chair/Ranking Member of Finance.)

Among Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works committee, Sen. Barrasso could become the Chairman because Sen. James Inhofe (OK) is term-limited as Chairman and Sen. David Vitter (LA) is retiring. If the Democrats control the Senate, Sen. Barrasso could become the Ranking Member because Sen. Inhofe is again term-limited and Sen. Vitter is retiring. However, as discussed above, Sen. Barrasso would likely choose to become the Ranking Member of Energy and Natural Resources, in which case Sen. Capito could become the Ranking Member of Environment and Public Works. For the Democrats, if the Republicans or Democrats control the Senate, Sen. Tom Carper (DE) could become Chair/Ranking Member of Environment and Public Works because Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA) is retiring. According to sources, Sen. Carper is indeed preparing to take over as the top Democrat on this committee. However, Sen. Carper could choose to remain the Chair/Ranking Member of Homeland Security, in which case Sen. Ben Cardin (MD) could become the Chair/Ranking Member of Environment and Public Works. Sen. Cardin could also choose to remain the Chair/Ranking Member of Foreign Relations unless Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) is cleared of ethics violations and is reinstated, which is unlikely in the near future. If Sen. Cardin remains the Chair/Ranking Member of Foreign Relations, which is nearly certain as long as Sen. Menendez is under indictment, Sen. Sanders could become the Chair/Ranking Member of Environment and Public Works.

To read a complete analysis of Congressional races, committee leadership changes, and legislative updates, please visit ML Strategies' website.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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