The 114th Congress began last week formalizing the leadership choices and committee assignments and setting in motion some early legislative actions in both houses.  This week the Senate is expected to begin debate on an approval of the Keystone pipeline.  The debate is expected to take up to two weeks.  On the House side members are expected to take up funding for the Department of Homeland Security which is the only department that is operating on a continuing resolution.  Funding for the Department will expire on February 27 and the House is expected to attach provisions that will limit the President’s ability to implement his executive order on immigration reform.  The February 27 funding expiration date aligns with the start date of parts of that executive action issued late last year.  The tone of the debate is expected to focus on immigration but could be influenced by the terrorist attacks in France.  When the House completes action on that bill the Senate will likely take it up sometime between the Martin Luther King holiday and the President’s Day recess set for February 14.

There were no big surprises in Congress last week with leadership decisions.  Key committee leadership includes:

Senate Finance, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chair, Ron Widen (D-OR), Ranking

Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Patty Murray,

Senate Judiciary, Charles Grassley (R-IA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT),

Senate Budget, Mike Enzi (R-WY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT),

Senate Appropriations, Thad Cochran, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD),


House Ways and Means Committee, Paul Ryan (R-WS), Chair, Sander Levin (D-MI), Ranking

House Education and Workforce, John Kline (R-MN), Bobby Scott (D-VA),

House Judiciary, Robert Goodlatte (R-VA), John Conyers (D-MI),

House Budget, Tom Price (R-GA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD),

House Appropriations, Hal Rogers (R-KY), Nita Lowey (D-NY)

One of the crucial committees as far as child welfare issues will continue to be the House Ways Means Subcommittee on Human Resources.  Last Congress the Subcommittee was headed up by Congressman David Reichert (R-WA). Due to the shifting assignments, he has left the subcommittee altogether.  The new chair will be Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA) and returning will be Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), Congressman Todd Young (R-IN), and new to the subcommittee Congresswoman Kristi Noem (R-SD), Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) Congressman George Holding (R-ND), and Jason Smith (R-MO).  For the Democrats, Congressman Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) as Ranking Member and Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY), and Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL), all Democrats are returning.