December 1, 2016
115th Congress Leadership Elections
Leadership elections were held this week for Republicans in the House and both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate. House Democratic leadership elections have been delayed until November 30th.
House Republicans unanimously re-nominated Paul Ryan as their nominee for Speaker of the House in the 115th Congress. While he still has to muster 218 votes on January 3, 2017, he is expected to clear that hurdle without a problem next year. After re-electing their senior leadership team, several newcomers join the leadership for the new Congress, including: Steve Stivers of Ohio as Chairman of the NRCC; Doug Collins of Georgia as Conference Vice-Chair and Jason Smith of Missouri as Conference Secretary. Mark Walker of North Carolina will be the new Chairman of the powerful Republican Steering Committee. As of Thursday, November 17, the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group have not concluded their elections.
Senate Republicans re-elected their slate of offices with only one notable change: Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado will take over as Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee after the very successful term of Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
It is likely that Leader McConnell will continue his precedent of adding four additional counsels to provide advice and guidance in the Republican leadership. This list from the 114th Congress included Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). These appointments, if they are continued as expected, will likely be announced early in January 2017.
In response to the tumultuous 2016 election cycle, Senate Democrats presented a shuffled, expanded, and more inclusive leadership team for the 115th Congress. To pre-empt the question of whether Senator Murray would challenge Senator Durbin for Whip, new Democratic Leader Schumer transferred the Assistant Democratic Leader title from Durbin to Murray in a new third ranking slot while keeping Durbin’s other role in the second-ranking slot as Whip. In recognition of Senator Sanders’ strong Presidential primary effort, Schumer split the Steering and Outreach Committee, currently chaired by Amy Klobuchar, and gave Sanders the Outreach functions while Klobuchar will chair the Steering Committee. Senator Manchin joins leadership as new Vice Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, giving Red State Democrats a seat at the leadership table. As of Wednesday, November 16th, Democrats had not yet appointed a new Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair to replace Senator Tester. In all, two new seats at the table have been added, with one more woman Senator in Democratic leadership than last Congress. Senate Democrats also announced their committee leaders for the 115th Congress.
November 3oth Update:
After a somewhat tumultuous few weeks, House Democrats re-elected Nancy Pelosi as Leader. She won 143 to 63 over her challenger, Tim Ryan, in the closest leadership race in many years. The close to 2-1 ratio is very telling about the divisions within the caucus.
Rep. Steny Hoyer handily won his re-election as Whip, as did Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn. Rep. Joe Crowley was unopposed in his run for Democratic Caucus Chair. Rep. Linda Sanchez won her election for Democratic Caucus Vice Chair over Rep. Barbara Lee. The Steering & Policy Committee Co-Chairs, appointed by Leader Pelosi, will be Rosa DeLauro, who held the position last cycle, and Eric Swalwell.
Among her concessions over the past few weeks, Pelosi agreed to hold an election for Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair, a position traditionally appointed. She also agreed to add 5 new Regional DCCC Chairs.
Additionally, she agreed to potentially adding 5 new leadership slots to the traditional team. Colleen Hanabusa, a freshman representative has already been elected by the freshman class. An additional leadership Member will presumably be a Member who has served 3 or fewer terms. Those two slots at least are designed to give some of the newer Members of Congress some input in day to day leadership operations.