Legislative News InBrief

November 13, 2006

Kim E. Musheno
Director of Public Policy
[email protected]

Congressional Schedule
Congress returned to work this week following the midterm election recess for a "lame duck" session. The House is working on a bill to extend the current Continuing Resolution (which expires on Nov.17) to continue funding for federal programs until Dec. 8. Congress is then expected to recess at the end of the week and return in early December. Once they return, it is most likely that they will try to clear an omnibus spending bill tying most of the annual appropriations bills into one package. Most speculate that the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill will not be dealt with until January when the new Congress convenes. With the change in majorities in both Houses of Congress, it is now less likely that Congress will deal with any other issues in the lame duck except for a few "must pass" bills. That means that it is unlikely that Congress will consider the Combating Autism Act, NIH reauthorization, the Lifespan Respite Care Act, ADA Restoration Act or any other legislative priorities being tracked by AUCD. These bills will have to be reintroduced in the new Congress.

2006 Election Results
With the defeat of Sen. George Allen (R-VA), control of both the House and Senate will now shift to the Democrats when the 110th Congress convenes in January. The House makeup is 225 Democrats to 195 Republicans with the Democrats picking up 27 seats (several House races are still undecided). The Senate makeup for the new Congress is 52 Democrats to 49 Republicans. Democrats also picked up 6 governorships. Sen. Harry Reid (NV) will assume the Senate Majority Leader position and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is expected to be elected as House Speaker during the lame duck session.

With the change in control of Congress, the chairs of committees with jurisdiction over programs important to people with disabilities will change. Although, some of the people will be shifted between committees, here are the most likely changes to take place.

Senate committee leadership changes:

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee
Jurisdiction over the DD Act, health, education, employment and many of the programs that support people with disabilities
Current Chairman: Michael Enzi, WY
Incoming Chairman: Edward Kennedy, MA

Appropriations Committee
Current Chairman: Thad Cochran, MS
Incoming Chairman: Robert C. Byrd, WV

Budget Committee
Current Chairman: Judd Gregg, NH
Incoming Chairman: Kent Conrad, ND

Finance Committee
Current Chairman: Charles Grassley, IA
Incoming Chairman: Max Baucus, MT

Judiciary Committee
Current Chairman: Arlen Specter, PA
Incoming Chairman: Patrick Leahy, VT

House Committees:

House Appropriations Committee
Current Chairman: Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Incoming Chairman, David Obey (D-WI)

House Labor-Health and Human Service-Education Appropriations Subcommittee
Current Chairman:, Ralph Regula (R-OH).
Possible Chairman: David Obey is Ranking Member now, but if he becomes Chairman of full Appropriations Committee he may not have a Subcommittee. Other Democrats in order of seniority are Steny Hoyer (MD), Nita Lowey (NY), Jesse Jackson (IL), Patrick Kennedy (RI), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA).

House Budget Committee
Develops overall budget resolution and reconciliation instructions when relevant
Current Chairman: Jim Nussle (R-IA)
Incoming Chairman: John Spratt (D-SC)

House Energy and Commerce Committee
Jurisdiction over the DD Act reauthorization, Lifespan Respite Care Act, Combating Autism Act, Medicaid, Medicare and other health issues
Current chairman: Joe Barton (R-TX)
Incoming Chairman: John Dingell (D-MI)

House Education and the Workforce Committee
Jurisdiction over the reauthorization of the WIA/Rehabilitation Act, No Child Left Behind, Higher Education Act and other employment and education issues
Current Chairman: Buck McKeon (R-CA).
Incoming Chairman, George Miller (D-CA)

House Judiciary Committee
Jurisdiction over rights issues, ADA, Hate Crimes, Consent Decree bills, etc.
Current Chairman: James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)
Incoming Chairman, John Conyers (D-MI)

House Financial Services Committee
Jurisdiction over housing programs, such as Section 8 and Section 811
Chairman now, Mike Oxley (R-OH)
Incoming Chairman, Barney Frank (D-MA)

House Ways and Means Committee
Jurisdiction over tax and revenue measures, social security and health care
Current Chairman: Bill Thomas (R-CA)
Incoming Chairman, Charles Rangel (D-NY).