Major changes are expected in the next Congress on the House and Senate panels responsible for allocating federal funding. The results of the congressional mid-term elections and the retirement of several senior appropriators will prompt a shuffle in the membership of the Appropriations Committees in both chambers.
Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), and Tim Johnson (D-SD) are retiring. The departure of Harkin and Johnson will free up top Democratic positions on the subcommittees responsible for labor, health, and education funding and for veterans affairs. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is the next most senior Democrat on both panels. If she decides to claim one of these subcommittee top spots - and if the Democrats retain control - her current position as chair of the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee would become available.
Other vacancies could arise on the Senate Appropriations Committee as the result of potential election losses. Five Democratic appropriators are considered among the most vulnerable members of the Senate up for reelection this year: Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Mark Udall (D-CO). Landrieu, Pryor, and Shaheen currently chair an appropriations subcommittee.
Fewer changes are expected for the Republican membership of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The biggest change is that full committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) could be replaced by Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) if Republicans win control of the Senate.
In the House, there is more uncertainty about the future leadership of the spending panels. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers (R-KY) will likely wait until December to make his recommendations about subcommittee chairmen. The retirements of three senior Republicans will open chairmanships on the panels that oversee spending on commerce, justice, and science; labor, health, and education; and transportation.
Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) is retiring after serving for 17 terms, including his recent leadership of the panel that oversees funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Wolf has been an outspoken proponent of science and the work of NSF. Reps. John Culberson (R-TX) and Robert Aderholt (R-AL) have both expressed interest in taking over Wolf’s position in the new Congress. Culberson currently chairs the military construction subcommittee and Aderholt chairs the agriculture spending panel.
The departure of Representative Jack Kingston (R-GA), who unsuccessfully ran for a Senate seat, results in an opening at the top spot on the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Subcommittee. This vacancy could prompt a shuffle in the leadership of other subcommittees if Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) is selected to replace Kingston.
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