This report has been provided to make you aware of the changes that have occurred as a result of the 2016 Presidential and congressional elections. We will continue to provide updates as new information becomes available as part of our overall effort to help get you well-prepared for meeting your federal advocacy goals under the new Administration and the new Congress.
On November 9th, Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. During the early morning hours, Mr. Trump secured 279 electoral votes, exceeding the 270 electoral vote threshold needed to win the presidency. President-elect Trump’s Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, earned 228 electoral votes but won the popular vote by a margin of 59,923,033 (47.7%) to 59,692,978 (47.5%). Details on the outcome of the election are available at – Presidential Election Results.
President Obama met with President-elect Donald Trump on November 10th to discuss the transfer power. President Obama promised that he would work hard to ensure our nation’s tradition of a peaceful and smooth transition of power after what was an extremely intense and heated campaign. The Trump transition team will officially locate in Washington on November 21st. The transition team will be led by Vice-President-elect Mike Pence who replaces N.J. Governor Chris Christie. President-elect Trump wants to use the experience of former U.S. Representative Pence’s Washington experience and contacts to advance transition process. Governor Christie, Rudy Giuliani, and Michael Flynn will serve as transition vice-chairs. Other key members that have been added to the transition team include:
The key phases of presidential transition are summarized below.
Source: “Presidential Transition Guide.”
Efforts Underway to Develop the Trump Cabinet
With the election of President-elect Trump on November 9th and the Senate and the House remaining in Republican hands, respectively, attention will now turn to the organizing of his cabinet. As we look at how a possible Trump Administration may evolve, it is important to note that as a Washington outsider who has not served in political office or in the military, President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has instead focused on developing a short list of high-level industry people and conservatives who could comprise one of the most unique presidential cabinets in history. In addition to his transition team, President-elect Trump also has another group of highly seasoned folks advising him on the development of his cabinet and the hiring of approximately 4,100 people to serve in his administration.
Mr. Trump announced on November 13th that Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican National Committee, would serve as his White House chief of staff and Steve Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News, will serve as chief strategist and senior counselor to the president. These appointments will be critical to efforts in the first 100 days of his administration to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, address border security and trade issues, appoint a U.S. Supreme Court justice, cut taxes, and eliminate regulations that he and GOP members in Congress believe are costly and stifle economic growth.
Unlike previous politicians who have traditionally built their cabinet mostly with Washington insiders, President-elect Trump plans to make it a priority to recruit professionals from the private sector based on one of his campaign promise to “fix” the federal government, while potentially rewarding key campaign supporters, including Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Chris Christie, with appointments to top administration posts. Because of the divisive and disruptive campaign run by the Trump camp, some believe that it could impact the President-elect’s ability to attract top-notch talent that includes women. However, building a politically, gender, and racially diverse cabinet provides Mr. Trump the opportunity to be an inclusive president that truly represents the makeup of our nation.
Preliminary reports indicate that the following appointments are possible:
First 100 Days
President-elect Trump has released his plan for his first 100 days as President, also known as the Donald Trump’s Contract with the American Voter, prior to the election. The plan summarizes major campaign themes and provides some direction about his priorities that will aim to restore honesty, accountability and bring change to Washington. The plan, which is included below, begins by listing six measures to clean up corruption in Washington, seven actions to protect American workers, and five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law.
Republicans retained control of both Houses of Congress with only minimal losses. Thus, Republicans will have the next two years with one-party control. This could lead to quick action in the 115th Congress on a variety of issues of importance to the GOP and its supporters.
Unlike the massive changes soon to overtake the Executive Branch, the Senate will continue under Republican control next year with relatively few changes as it convenes the First Session of the 115th Congress during the first week of January 2017. The Republican side of the aisle lost 2 seats: Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), so there are currently 51 Republicans to 48 Democrats (including the 2 Independents who caucus with them). The Louisiana Senate seat vacated by Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is headed to a runoff on December 10 between Democrat Foster Campbell and Republican John Kennedy.
The Senate will reconvene on Tuesday, November 15th. The slimmer majority that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will lead next year means it will be more difficult for Republicans to shut off filibusters by getting the 60 votes required for cloture. This may be one reason that the GOP is reportedly considering using a privileged budget process, known as “reconciliation” as the vehicle to repeal Obamacare – one of the new Congress’ expected actions during its first 100 days – because reconciliation bills need only 51 votes to pass and cannot be filibustered.
The most significant change in the Senate Leadership is the expected elevation of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D- NY) to be the Senate’s Democratic Leader, taking over from retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV). Sen. Schumer is known for his political savvy and pragmatism, which has in the past been more about getting things done than adhering to party ideology. Reportedly, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is interested in seeking a leadership position. Senate Democrats will hold their leadership elections on Wednesday, November 16th.
Key Committee Changes
At the committee level, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) will take the gavel as Chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee replacing term-limited Chair Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK). Sen. Tom Carper will become the new Committee Ranking Democrat, replacing retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).
Over at the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Sen. Mike Crapo is expected to become Chair, replacing term-limited Chair Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is expected to remain as the Ranking Democrat.
On the Senate Budget Committee, the Ranking Democrat spot, expected to be vacated by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), will go to either Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) or Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) will remain as Chair.
On the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is expected to claim the Ranking Democrat spot, expected to be vacated by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is expected to keep the Chair.
On the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) may take the Ranking Democrat spot (assuming current Ranking Sen. Carper takes the Senate EPW Committee spot) with current Chair Ron Johnson (R-WI) expected to stay as Chair.
The final major change at the committee level is Sen. Patty Murray’s (D-WA) expected takeover of the Ranking Democrat spot on the Senate Appropriations Committee to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Current Chair Thad Cochran (R-MS) is expected to keep his position.
Welcome, New Senators!
Here are the 6 new Senators for the 115th Congress. A 7th new Senator will be chosen in a December 10 Louisiana runoff to replace retiring Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).
Like the Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives will continue under Republican control in the 115th Congress after Republicans suffered only, so far, a net loss of 6 seats. In the House, 218 of the 435 seats are needed for the majority and currently the count is 232 Republicans, 191 Democrats and 12 races not yet called. It appears there will be roughly 52 new Members in the U.S. House of Representatives, with those about equally divided between Republicans and Democrats. These new Members will attend orientation during the week of November 14 before being sworn into office on January 3, 2017.
The House Republican Conference will select their leadership for the 115th Congress on November 15th when Congress returns for the “lame duck” session. Although rumors surfaced in the final days before Tuesday’s election that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) would not be running again for his leadership position, or that he could be ousted if Trump lost, he is now a safe bet to be Speaker again in 2017. In fact, President- elect Trump and Speaker Ryan also met on November 10th to begin discussing priority issues when the President-elect traveled to Washington, DC to meet with President Obama. The official vote for Speaker of the House by all 435 U.S. Representatives occurs on January 3rd, 2017, the first day the new Congress will be in session. Other Republican leadership positions for Majority Leader, Whip, Conference Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Policy Committee Chair will mostly stay the same, with some shifts as a few members move to Committee Chairmanships.
The House Democratic Caucus House will hold its leadership elections on Thursday, November 17th. Although there have been some rumors of possible challenges given the far-lower-than-expected results of House races for the party, it is likely the current highest-ranking Democratic leadership in the House, such as Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), will remain with some shifts in other positions as a result of retiring members and term-limits under Caucus rules.
Key Committee Changes in the House
Committee selections will be made in December, so more on this to come. As the majority, Republicans will retain the Chairmanships for all House Committees, but changes will occur as a result of Republican Caucus rules that limit Committee Chairmen to three consecutive terms. A Chairman may seek a waiver of the rule under special circumstances. Therefore, the reference below to term-limits is related to the position as Chairman and does not mean the Representative is leaving Congress.
Administration – Chair is nominated by the Speaker. Current Chair Candice Miller (MI) did not run for re- election to Congress, but for other local elected office and won. Rep. Gregg Harper (MS) is next in seniority.
Appropriations – Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ) likely to replace current term-limited Chairman Harold Rogers (KY), who is not seeking a waiver.
Education and the Workforce – Rep. Virginia Foxx (NC) is expected to replace the current Chairman John Kline (MN), who is retiring from Congress.
Energy and Commerce – Current Chairman Fred Upton (MI) is term-limited and not seeking a waiver. Reps. John Shimkus (IL), Joe Barton (TX) and Greg Walden (OR) all want the gavel.
Ethics – Rep. Charlie Dent (PA) is term-limited. His replacement will be nominated by the Speaker.
Rules – Chairman will be selected by Speaker. Current Chairman Pete Sessions (TX) is eligible to continue.
Veterans’ Affairs – Chairman Jeff Miller (FL) is retiring. Reps. Doug Lamborn (CO), David Roe (TN), and Gus Bilirakis (FL) all want the gavel.
On the Democratic side, for Ranking Members, the most significant changes are as follows:
Budget – Rep. John Yarmuth (KY) is likely to replace Rep. Van Hollen (MD), who ran for Senate.
Ethics – Minority Leader nominates the Ranking Member. Currently Rep. Linda Sanchez (CA) holds the position and can keep it, but may not if she wins the leadership position as Democratic Caucus Vice Chair.