Retirements, higher office ambitions, promotions, primary losses, and (potential) general election losses will have an impact on committee membership and leadership in the 116thCongress. Leadership elections could also have an effect. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) is widely expected to become Majority Whip if Republicans hold their majority in the Senate. If that does happen, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) is the presumptive successor to take that committee’s gavel.
This week House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that if Democrats win control of the House in the midterm elections that she expects all of the ranking members on House committees will become chairs of those committees in the 116th Congress (2019-2020). In addition to the House potentially flipping, there are 55 members (18 Democrats and 37 Republicans) who are not seeking re-election to their House seat in 2018. In the Senate, there are only three Republican members (Hatch-UT, Flake-AZ, and Corker-TN) who are retiring at the end of this Congress. Hatch is currently the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Grassley (R-IA) is next in line for that gavel, but he may opt to keep his chair of the Judiciary Committee. If he does stay at Judiciary, Sen. Crapo (R-ID) is the next most senior Republican. Sen. Corker is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Risch (R-ID) is the next most senior Republican on that committee.
To help you keep track of all of these potential committee changes, Vantage Point Strategies updated its House and Senate committee charts indicating members who are retiring, lost in their primary, or are running for higher office. Also noted are committee chairs that are term limited at the end of 2018 as well as members who have previously been the chairs of those committees and, thus, are not eligible to be chairman again. Only Republicans have term limits for committee chairs. In the House, members are limited to a total of six years as chair or ranking member. In the Senate, Republican senators can serve six years as chair andsix years as ranking member.
In the Senate, there are a number of Republican chairs that will reach their six-year limit at the end of 2020 (if Republicans retain control of the Senate in the 116thCongress). Of these chairs, the following are also up for re-election in 2020: Roberts (R-KS), Enzi (R-WY), Alexander (R-TN), and Collins (R-ME). Term limits may or may not be a factor in their re-election decision.