On The Hill: Changes Coming To Washington

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News January 2019

Election Day 2018 gave everyone in America a little something to 
cheer about

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Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, while Republicans expanded their control of the Senate for the 116th Congress. More than 100 newly elected and re-elected women will take their place in the House this month.

Additionally, over 90 veterans will also be a part of the new Congress that will be seated this month. Almost half of those veterans will be individuals who served after Sept. 11, 2001.

Three of the new women members of the House include former Navy helicopter pilot Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Air Force veteran Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and former Navy Cmdr. Elaine Luria (D-Va.). They join three incumbent female vets Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa).  

Key Leadership

At press time in late November, the House Democratic caucus had yet to decide its leadership for the 116th Congress. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans retained Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as Senate majority leader, and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was re-elected as minority leader.

While Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is the odds-on favorite to assume the House speakership, she is likely to be challenged for the post, if calls to change the leader-ship by some of the newer Democratic representatives on the campaign trail offer any guide. House Republicans have chosen Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to serve as minority leader in that body.  

Although the composition of committees has yet to be determined, the outlines of their leadership are beginning to emerge.

In the House, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) is likely to become the first woman to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which oversees approximately $1.3 trillion in federal spending. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Ky.) is in line to become the ranking minority member of that committee. 

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) is expected to become chairman of the House Budget Committee, with Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) taking the ranking position. In all likelihood, a 2020 budget resolution will be tailored to emphasize education, job training, infrastructure and other Democratic spending priorities. 

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) is aiming to take over the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, with Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) becoming ranking minority member of that body.

That committee is expected to be quite active in overseeing the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) implementation of the VA Mission Act, which includes the expansion of caregiver benefits for veterans of all eras who have service-connected injuries. The committee will also focus on the implementation of a new electronic health record management system.


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On The Hill: Changes Coming To Washington


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