Looking ahead to the next Congress


Following the elections, Congress is starting to look ahead to the next Congress. Republicans will maintain control of the both the Senate and House, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will remain in their respective roles. For the Democrats, the retirement of Minority Harry Reid (D-Nev.) meant that new leadership elections were held in the Senate; Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was selected by the caucus to be the new Minority Leader. In the House, the Democratic Caucus will not be holding elections until after the Thanksgiving holiday recess, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said that she is running to continue in her role.

There have been a number of leadership changes for some key Congressional Committees. While the Republican and Democratic leadership of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees will likely remain unchanged, there were some changes atop the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, both of which have jurisdiction over key policies affecting agriculture. For the Appropriations Committee, Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) is expected to maintain the chairmanship; however, Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-M.D.) is retiring from the Senate at the end of the Congress; Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who is the most senior Democrat on the panel, will likely be the new Ranking Member. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) is expected to replace Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) as chairman of the EPW Committee and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) would be the next Senator in line to be Ranking Member. Many of these positions will be finalized in the coming weeks.

NAWG is also engaged with the FY 2017 Appropriations process. The federal government is currently operating under a Continuing Resolution that expires on Dec. 9, 2016. It remains to be seen what sort of action Congress will take in terms of either another short-term CR or moving on a full omnibus appropriations bill. This week, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) indicated that they would be working on another short-term Continuing Resolution through March 2017. However, there haven’t yet been clear indications about the Senate’s preference.