Children's Monitor Online
A Public Policy Update from the Child Welfare League of America

   
   
Vol. 19, Issue 45: 11/13/2006   
Headlines

House Ways and Means Committee Feels Impact of Election

Senate Finance Awaits Final Election Tabulations

Appropriations Committees Change

FY 2007 Funding Remains Unclear

Advance the 5-Point Congressional Platform!

CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

Key Upcoming Dates for Congress



House Ways and Means Committee Feels Impact of Election

The 2006 congressional election results may have their single biggest impact on one of the most important committees in Congress--and one of the most important for child welfare issues--the House Ways and Means Committee. Currently, the committee has 24 Republicans and 17 Democrats. Not only will those numbers reverse when the Democrats take over in the next Congress, but nine Republican members either left their House seats or were defeated in the election. Combined with a 10th vacancy on the Democratic side, with Representative Ben Cardin (D-MD) moving to the Senate, the Ways and Means Committee outpaces any other House Committee as to the amount of change it will face.

With jurisdiction over many social issues, including child welfare, as well as all tax and some health and trade policy issues, Ways and Means is one of the most powerful committees in the House, and committee assignments are highly sought after. In addition to the departure of Senator-elect Cardin, also leaving the committee will be Representatives Bill Thomas (R-CA), who retired; Jim Nussle (R-IA) and Bob Beauprez (R-CO), who ran for higher office; E. Clay Shaw (R-FL), Nancy Johnson (R-CT), J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ), Melissa Hart (R-PA), and Chris Chocola (R-IN), who were defeated; and Mark Foley (R-FL), who resigned.

The new Committee Chair will be Charles Rangel (D-NY), but it is unclear who will be the ranking member on the Republican side. The three most senior Republicans will not be returning (Thomas, Shaw, and Johnson), and the next in line in seniority is Representative Wally Herger (R-CA). Representative Jim McCrery (R-LA) was vying for the vacant chair position when the Republicans had the majority, and it is not clear if the Republican leadership will follow a strict seniority rule in determining ranking member status. The size of the committee could also change from the current 41 seats since the party in power determines that issue.

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Senate Finance Awaits Final Election Tabulations

The Senate Finance Committee is another important committee for child welfare and health issues, and it will also face some changes due to the election. The most significant changes still await the final official results of the Senate race in Virginia, but it seems likely Democrats will control of the Senate. Currently, the Finance Committee is divided between 11 Republicans, 8 Democrats, and Senator James Jeffords (I-VT) caucusing with the Democrats. The 20-member structure is unlikely to change. If Democrats control the Senate, the Finance Committee will likely reverse the numbers.

Regardless of the overall control of the Senate, the Finance Committee will have three vacancies. Jeffords and Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) retired, and Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) lost his reelection bid. Like the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance is a much sought-after committee assignment. The easiest realignment, if Democrats hold the gavel, is for the Republicans to leave their two seats vacant, giving them the nine seats the minority would have. Democrats would have one vacancy and two new majority seats, for a total of three seats to fill. There is no indication yet which Democrats would vie for the new seats. One thing that won't change for the committee is that Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Max Baucus (D-MN) will remain as the top two senators, with one of them holding the gavel.

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Appropriations Committees Change

The appropriations committees will also change with the new Congress. Several Republicans on the appropriations committees lost their reelection bids, including Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Representatives Ann Northup (R-KY) and John Sweeney (R-NY). Currently, the House Appropriations Committee has 37 Republicans and 29 Democrats. Those numbers are likely to reverse, and some Republicans could be forced off. Representative David Obey (D-WI) will likely take over the chair of the full House Appropriations Committee. Obey will also likely be the new Chair of the key Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS). On the Senate side, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) is likely to return as Chair of the full committee. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) may become the new Chair of the Labor-HHS Subcommittee.

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FY 2007 Funding Remains Unclear

The fate of FY 2007 funding remains unclear. Until members return to Washington in their first post-election meetings, it's unclear whether the 109th Congress will pass an omnibus appropriations bill for the current fiscal year, or whether they might pass another continuing resolution (CR). Under the CR scenario, funding for FY 2007 might be extended through January or February when the new 110th Congress comes into session. There is also talk that the Senate may attempt to confirm Robert Gates as the new Defense Secretary before the end of the year. That would extend Congress into December. The last time Congress faced such a lame-duck session with power shifting to the other party was in 1994, when Congress remained in session to address trade policy.

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Advance the 5-Point Congressional Platform!

Join CWLA in this initiative to engage Members of Congress to make a difference in children's lives. Urge U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the 5-Point Platform and help Make Children a National Priority in 2006!

The five points in the platform will help protect children who are abused and neglected and help prevent abuse. Included in the platform are specific, concrete issues federal legislators can and should support to protect the nearly 900,000 children abused and neglected each year. The five points of the platform represent specific legislative actions that every member of the House and Senate should support. Find out more.

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CWLA Legislative Alerts Available to Subscribers

CWLA's Legislative Alerts provide breaking news, advocacy information, and critically important timely details of legislative battles. In an effort to broaden CWLA's advocacy network on behalf of children, anyone can now subscribe and receive the same information. This effort compliments CWLA's weekly electronic legislative newsletter, the Children's Monitor, which is also available free to any subscriber. We encourage you to register to receive these items directly and to pass on the information to other colleagues, family, and friends.

Subscribe to Legislative Alerts.

Subscribe to Children's Monitor.

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Key Upcoming Dates for Congress

October 1: 2007 Federal Fiscal Year Began
November 13: Congress Returns
November 17: Continuing Resolution Expires
January 3, 2007: First Session of 110th Congress Begins


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