With leadership elections for the incoming 116th Congress nearly complete–with the exception of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) bid for House Speaker which requires a floor vote in early January—attention has now turned to the structure of House and Senate committees. Committee assignments are one of the most important aspects of seating a new Congress. Before Members are assigned to Committees, each Committee’s size and the proportion of Democrats to Republicans must be decided by party leaders. While full Committee assignments will not be finalized until early 2019, there has been discussion about certain leadership roles on Committees of interest to the CDFI industry:
Key House Committees
- House Appropriations Committee–Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) is expected to become Chair of the full House Appropriations Committee, marking the first time a woman has ever served in that role. Lowey is a supporter of CDFI issues, having made statements on the floor in support of the program during debates over the FY2019 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) appropriations bill and throughout her career. Lowey is expected to use her position as Chair to advance domestic spending priorities such as education, infrastructure, childcare, and affordable housing, which could have a positive impact on the budgets of federal programs accessed by CDFIs.
- On the GOP side, the retirement of current House Appropriations Committee Chair Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) created an opening for the Ranking Member seat on the Appropriations Committee. The House GOP Steering Committee selected Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) as the incoming Ranking Member, the first time a Republican woman has been elevated to the position.
- Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), a CDFI champion, is expected to ascend to the Chair of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, which will place the CDFI Fund in a good position for spending negotiations. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA) may remain as Ranking Member on the FSGG subcommittee.
- Financial Services–Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), who is currently the Ranking Member, will return as Chair of the Financial Services Committee. Rep. Waters has a strong track record of support for the CDFI industry. Rep. Waters is expected to expand oversight of the banking sectors and focus on issues impacting the availability of credit and financial services to underserved communities. Housing finance reform efforts will be also be shaped in this committee. Rep. Patrick T. McHenry (R-NC), the Republican Chief Deputy Whip, will serve as Ranking Member.
- Small Business–Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) will become Small Business Committee Chair, while Rep. Steve Chabot of Ohio will serve as the Ranking Member.
- Ways and Means–Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), a longtime champion of the NMTC Program, will lead the Ways and Means Committee. There will also be many new faces on the Committee in January, as more than a quarter of the Committee’s Members will be new due to retirements and defeats, especially on the Republican side. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) will likely remain as Ranking Member.
Key Senate Committees
- Appropriations–Sen. Shelby (R-AL), who served his first term as Chair of the Appropriations Committee after Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran’s retirement earlier this year, will remain as the Chair in the 116th Congress. With Sen. Shelby at the helm, it seems likely the Senate Appropriations Committee will continue to work closely with Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to seek bipartisan consensus throughout the appropriations process.
- For the CDFI industry, the focus will also remain on FSGG Subcommittee Chair James Lankford (R-OK), who will continue to have jurisdiction over the CDFI Fund budget. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) will continue to serve as Ranking Member on the subcommittee. Due to changes in the committee ratios, Democrats will likely lose a seat on the Appropriations Committee. Should Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) lose his seat on the Appropriations Committee, that will also impact the composition of the FSGG subcommittee on which he serves.
- Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs–With Sen. Grassley (R-IA) moving to chair the Finance Committee, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo will likely remain in his role as Chair of the Senate Banking Committee. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), who easily won reelection will likely remain in his role as Ranking Member on the Committee.
- Finance–Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is retiring at the end of the 115th Congress, and Sen. Grassley (R-IA), will take over as Chair. Grassley led the Finance Committee from 2003-2006 before serving six years as the Ranking Member after Democrats took control of the Senate in the 2006 midterm elections. Senate Republican rules limit Members to six years each as Chair and Ranking Member of any Committee, allowing Sen. Grassley two more years to serve as the Chairman of the powerful Finance Committee. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) will likely remain in his role as Ranking Member.
- Small Business– Jim Risch (R-ID), the current chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, is in line to become the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) may be next in line to chair the Small Business Committee when Risch leaves, while Maryland Democrat Ben Cardin is expected to remain Ranking Member.