Lawmakers Begin to Get Organized for 113th Congress
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Lawmakers Begin to Get Organized for 113th Congress

December 18, 2012

Over 80 members are leaving Congress in the new year and, along with changes in leadership due to retirements and term limits, there will be several new faces on committees with influence over aging services and seniors’ benefits in the 113th Congress.

Senate Democrats’ committee slots were announced last week; however, yesterday’s death of Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) will mean additional leadership adjustments.

Sen. Inouye was the second-longest serving Senator and was awarded the Medal of Honor, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Distinguished Service Cross. He served as the Senate Pro Tem, which put him third in line for the presidency, as well as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will become Pro Tem and is also next in line to take the reins of Appropriations, but he has opted to remain chair of the Judiciary Committee. Instead, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), will become the first woman to lead the powerful funding panel.

Additional new leadership includes Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) as chair of the Aging Committee, which is an important platform to raise the visibility and promote analysis of aging issues. Nelson also will retain his seat on the Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and tax policy.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) will be chairing the Budget Committee, which sets the annual priorities and targets for federal spending. She remains a senior member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee that oversees the Older Americans Act, LIHEAP, and a host of other community services, as well as some aspects of health policy.

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) has joined the Finance Committee and will continue to serve on the HELP Committee. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) also has been named to Finance, and he remains on the Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and other Farm Bill programs.

Sen. Brown gave up his slot on the Appropriations Committee to join Finance, thus providing a third opening on the panel that crafts the annual funding bills for all federal discretionary programs. Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) will be new appropriators.

Fortunately, the HELP Committee will be joined by additional strong advocates for seniors. Newly elected Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) will both be joining the HELP and Aging Committees. Freshman Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) has been named to HELP, and new Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) will serve on Aging.

In the House, Republican and Democratic committee leaders have been named.

A significant change is Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) taking over as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee with the retirement of Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA).

Stay tuned for news on additional committee assignments and details on subcommittee leadership. Until then, please continue to explore opportunities to educate new members of Congress about your programs, as well as current Senators taking on new roles.




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