Thirteen new U.S. Senators and 58 House members were sworn in on Tuesday when the 114th U.S. Congress opened for business. Having gained the majority in the Senate and increased their numbers in the U.S. House of Representatives, Republicans now control both houses of Congress for the first time since 2006.
Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) was re-elected to his third term as Speaker of the House, despite a last-minute challenge for the position. He was selected on the first ballot although 25 members from the Republican Party’s conservative wing voted against him.
The most significant changes on Capitol Hill are taking place in Senate leadership. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who took over the top Senate position from the Democrats, will enjoy a 54-46 voting margin. All committees are switching from Democratic to Republican Party chairs. New chairs of key committees affecting NABR members are:
Agriculture -- Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) takes over this committee, which has jurisdiction over the Animal Welfare Act (AWA). He previously chaired the House Agriculture committee for 20 years.
Appropriations -- The gavel of the powerful panel responsible for drafting approximately one-third of the federal budget returns to Mississippi's Senator Thad Cochran, who was just re-elected to a seventh term.
Budget – In a surprise move, Wyoming's Mike Enzi became chairman of the Senate Budget Committee after Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama stepped aside. Sessions had been the top Republican on the committee the last four years.
Environment & Public Works -- Oklahoma's Senator James Inhofe replaces Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who previously chaired this committee with responsibility for bills affecting federal product safety and testing requirements. Sen. Inhofe, along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), was a champion of the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA). As NABR members will also recall, the committee now chaired by Inhofe is the same committee in which a hearing on legislation to prohibit the use of chimpanzees in biomedical research (the Great Ape Protection Act) was previously held.
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions – Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee takes the reins here. The former education secretary under President George H.W. Bush, governor and president of the University of Tennessee, has said modernizing the National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration is a necessity.
The full listing of committee assignments for Republican Senators is available here. The Democratic member list for Senate committees is posted here.
Please continue checking your email and www.NABR.org for legislative updates.