Initial Review of Elections: Republicans Capture Senate, Expand Majority in House – 3 Senate Races Remain Undecided
As you know, voters took to the polls on Tuesday, November 4th and paved the way for a change in party leadership in the Senate and an expanded Republican majority in the House. Three Senate races, in Alaska, Louisiana, and Virginia are still being decided. In terms of Governors’ races, voters in a majority of States (31 vs. 17) elected Republican chief executives, with two additional races undecided.
We have drafted some supplemental materials that detail results from all of the Governor and Senate races, in addition to information about key Congressional Committees that have an impact on NASADAD priorities.
- Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
- Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee
- Judiciary Committee
House of Representatives
- Appropriations, Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
- Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
- Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health
The Committees listed above have a direct role in the appropriations process and have jurisdiction over key issue areas of concern to the Association.
Over the next few days, NASADAD Public Policy staff will continue to review other Committee changes, including changes in Chairmanships and other leadership positions. In addition, we plan to review this information and provide additional updates during the next All States Public Policy call on Friday, November 14th at 4 pm EST.
Current Breakdown of House and Senate Membership
Currently the Senate has 52 Republicans, 43 Democrats, 2 Independents (both caucus with the Democrats), and 3 undecided races in Alaska, Louisiana, and Virginia. Alaska incumbent Mark Begich (D-AK) is currently trailing challenger Dan Sullivan (R) as the remaining ballots are counted. Neither Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu nor challenger Bill Cassidy (R) received the required 50% of the vote – a runoff election will be held in January. Finally, in Virginia, Incumbent Mark Warner (D-VA) has a narrow lead over challenger Ed Gillespie (R-VA). Given the close result, Mr. Gillespie has not ruled out a recount.
In the House, there are 243 Republicans and 179 Democrats, with 13 races still undecided.
Key Changes: Committee Leadership vs. “Rank and File” Members
Generally speaking, there were relatively few changes in the “rank and file” make-up of the key Committees of interest to NASADAD. However, there will be significant changes in the leadership of some of the Committees.
There is no precise method of predicting how Chairmanships will be assigned. On the Senate side, Chairmanships are often, though not exclusively, determined by seniority. In contrast, the process in the House is somewhat less clear. Seniority is certainly a factor, though there is also some degree of jockeying between Chairmanships. House Republican leaders also self-imposed a 6 year term limit on their Chairmanships. This means that in addition to election results, Chairmen/Chairwomen whose term has expired may switch Chairmanships, taking leadership positions in completely different Committees. House Republicans will take an anonymous vote to elect the new leadership for Committee vacancies.
The following updates include potential candidates for leadership positions; however, we cannot confirm any of the positions until they are made public. We will continue to update the members as more information becomes available.
One constant for the full House Appropriations Committee is the Chairmanship of Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY). Rogers is expected to maintain his role as Chairman of the Committee and continue his work to support work on issues related to addiction in general and the opioid problem in particular.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies will see a change in Chairmanship. Chairman Jack Kingston (R-GA) unsuccessfully ran for Georgia’s Senate seat, giving up his seat in the House of Representatives. House leadership has not announced who the new Chairperson will be, although Vice Chairman Steve Womack (R-A) may be a potential candidate. Rank and file membership will likely not change, with the possible exception of Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), whose race is still too close to call.
This Appropriations Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the budgets for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services (HHS). This includes funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH). In March, NASADAD presented testimony to this Subcommittee to provide recommendations on FY 2015 funding for SAMHSA, including the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant; the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will also see a change in Chairmanship. Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) lost his reelection bid to Barbara Comstock (R). House leadership has not indicated who the new Chairperson will be, although Vice Chairman Robert Aderholt (R-AL) may be considered. Rank and file membership will likely not change, with the possible exception of Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), whose race is still too close to call.
This Appropriations Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the budgets of the Department of Commerce and Department of Justice (DOJ), in addition to federal science policy. This includes funding for DOJ programs like the Hal Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), drug courts, and others. Chairman Wolf demonstrated intense interest in addiction issues, calling a series of hearings to explore substance use disorder programming within the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will see a number of changes in the rank and file membership. On the Republican side, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) retired from Congress, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) did not seek reelection to unsuccessfully pursue Georgia’s Senate seat, and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) did not run for reelection and will be competing for Louisiana’s Senate seat in a runoff election to be held in January. Four Democrats from this Committee will not be returning to the chamber: Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) announced his retirement after serving for more than 58 years, Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT) did not seek reelection, Rep. John Barrow (D-GA) lost his reelection bid to Rick Allen (R), and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) did not seek reelection. Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) was reelected to Congress and there have been no announced changes to his leadership position.
This Subcommittee has jurisdiction over health related issues, including portions of Medicaid, Medicare, programs authorized under the Public Health Service Act, and more – this includes SAMHSA. Rep. Tim Murphy’s (R-PA) widely discussed bill, the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 3717), was referred to this Subcommittee for consideration. The legislation touches a variety of issues including patient privacy, court-ordered community treatment, reauthorization of mental health courts, and a significant reorganization of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). There has been some discussion about breaking Rep. Murphy’s bill into multiple bills so that less controversial provisions could be voted on individually, though Rep. Murphy remains committed to passing the comprehensive bill.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education, and Related Agencies will see significant leadership changes. Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) retired from the Senate, leaving his position open in addition to the change in majority leadership. Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS) is a likely choice to become Chairman, with Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) likely to become Ranking Member. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), a member of the Subcommittee, lost reelection to Tom Cotton (R). While the Republican membership will likely grow, Democratic membership on all of the Senate committees will likely be reduced, so Sen. Pryor will likely not be replaced on the Subcommittee.
This Subcommittee is the Senate companion to the House Subcommittee of the same name. It has jurisdiction over the budgets for the Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services (HHS), which includes SAMHSA.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension (HELP) Committee will also see significant leadership changes. Sen. Tom Harking (D-IA) was also Chairman of the HELP Committee. Ranking Member Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is a likely candidate for the Chairmanship. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) or Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will likely become Ranking Member. The only rank and file change will be Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), who lost her reelection bid to Thom Tillis (R). Similar to above, Sen. Hagan will likely not be replaced on the Committee.
The HELP Committee, like its name, has jurisdiction over issues related to health, education, and labor. Statues related to SAMHSA, including reauthorization, and other HHS programs fall under this Committee’s jurisdiction. Committee also looks at other issues including public health, biomedical research and development, individuals with disabilities, and much more. The Committee has held a number of listening sessions regarding potential action related to the opioid problem. This includes considerations of a number of bills, including legislation to reauthorize the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting (NASPER) Act, Senator Markey’s (D-MA) bill to change prescriber limits for buprenorphine, and many others.
The Senate Judiciary Committee did not have any changes in membership due to the election. However, Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will likely become Ranking Member and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) will likely assume the Chairmanship. There will likely be reductions in the nine Democratic members of this Committee.
This Committee has jurisdiction over statues related to criminal justice issues, oversees the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and conducts hearings on federal judges and other presidential nominees before they are considered by the entire Senate. The Committee also reviews legislation for the Department of Justice (DOJ) programs, including the Second Chance Act. The Committee still may consider (this year) the nomination of Michael Botticelli to serve as the Director of ONDCP. Further, there is a chance that the Judiciary Committee will take action on the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2014 (S. 2839), introduced by Sens. Whitehouse (D-RI) and Portman (R-OH). This action could take the form of a hearing or a formal mark-up of the bill.
Looking Forward: Wrapping Up the 113th Congress and Clearing the Way for the 114th
A good deal of work remains for the 113th Congress, both in terms of budget appropriations and leadership selections.
First, the 113th Congress must finish its business when they return from the elections. This includes FY 2015 appropriations work. The current continuing resolution that was passed this fall to postpone budget discussions until after the elections expires on December 11th. Congress must either pass a budget resolution, outlining the scope of the federal FY 2015 budget or pass another continuing resolution to further postpone negotiations until after the new Congress has been sworn in.
Second, party leadership will also adjust as a result of the elections. Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), current Majority Leader in the Senate, is expected to run for Minority Leader. He does not appear to have any significant opposition at this point. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will likely be elected Majority Leader, although some members of his caucus have expressed doubts about his leadership. We do not expect major changes in House leadership. Committee Chairmanships will likely shift, as we have outlined above.
NASADAD will continue to monitor new developments and provide updates to the membership as they occur.