What Feds Can Expect in the New Congress

Just one week after the mid-term elections saw power in the U.S. House of Representatives shift into the hands of Democrats and control of the Senate remain in Republican hands, D.C. has been speculating as to what the changes are likely to mean for the federal workforce.

At Federal News Network, David Thornton provides a rundown of how the changes brought about by the election will change the make-up of House committees that work on issues of relevance to federal employees.

In addition to the obvious changes at the top of party leadership -- with well-known Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer cited as the most-likely candidates for Speaker of the House – the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee (OGR) is slated to shift into the hands of current Ranking Member Elijah Cummings.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee will be chaired by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr., while Rep. Nita Lowey will assume the helm of the influential House Appropriations Committee.

Eric Katz of Government Executive says Democratic leaders “are promising a dramatic increase in oversight over an array of issues they say the Republican majority neglected to properly investigate” with Democrats spending their early days “setting agendas, scheduling hearings, requesting documents and, if necessary, issuing subpoenas.”

Katz writes that Lowey’s presumed chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee would see her focus on budget caps she has called “unworkable,” and which are set to resume in Fiscal Year 2020. Meanwhile, at OGR, Rep. Cummings has promised to push for “accountability, transparency, integrity and honesty.”

Also notable is the change in the Veterans Affairs Committee, where Rep. Mark Takano is expected to become chairman. Takano has made sweeping promises for reform.

“Next Congress, I am going to work with you to fill the more than 30,000 employee vacancies across the VA that prevent veterans from accessing the benefits they have earned,” Takano said in comments to the American Legion earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Committee is likely to see an injection of life and attention, with presumed incoming Chairman Rep. Eliot Engel promising that the political targeting of career employees will be a “major priority.”

As for the remaining lame-duck Congress, Joe Gould of Defense News writes that the agenda will likely focus on national security issues, but that lawmakers might also have to confront a potential shutdown, developments in the Yemeni civil war, and pending nominations at the Department of Defense, an issue potentially made more timely by the resignation this week of the third-ranking official at the Department of Defense after just nine months in the position.

Posted in From the Hill

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