Senate Leadership — Democratic minority
Minority Leader — Harry Reid (D-NV)
Minority Whip — Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Democratic Conference Chair — Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Policy Committee Chairman — Byron Dorgan (D-ND)
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair — Charles Schumer (D-NY)
House Leadership — Republican Party gains at least three seats
Speaker — Dennis Hastert (R-IL)
Majority Leader — Tom DeLay (R-TX)
Majority Whip — Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Conference Chair — Deborah Pryce (R-OH)
Policy Committee Chair — Chris Cox (R-CA)
Republican Congressional Committee Chair — Tom Reynolds (R-NY)
House Leadership — Democratic minority
Minority Leader — Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)
Minority Whip — Steny Hoyer (D-MD)
Caucus Chairman — Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
Democratic Congressional Committee Chair — Rep. Pelosi has asked Bob Matsui (D-CA), the current chairman, to serve another term. If he decides not to, possible contenders include Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), Joe Crowley (D-NY) and Mike Thompson (D-CA).
Changes also await several committees in the Congress dealing with key housing matters:
House Financial Services Committee and Senate Banking Committee
These committees have jurisdiction over federal housing programs and mortgage finance and financial services providers, including the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks.
Rep. Michael Oxley (R-OH) will be returning as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, along with ranking member Barney Frank (D-MA).
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) will remain at the helm of the Senate Banking Committee and Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) will return as the lead Democrat on the panel.
The committees will take the lead on any GSE regulatory reform measures introduced in the 109th Congress. NAHB will work with lawmakers to ensure that any restructuring of the two secondary mortgage giants does not impede the flow of capital to housing or increase its cost.
Federal housing programs also fall under the auspices of the Housing and Community Opportunity Subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee. Subcommittee Chairman Bob Ney (R-OH) and ranking member Maxine Waters (D-CA) are expected to deal with several housing issues in the new Congress, including Federal Housing Administration mortgage insurance, Section 8 housing choice voucher programs and HUD reform efforts.
Tax Writing Committees
The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee have jurisdiction over tax issues, health care, Social Security, trade and revenue measures.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), who easily won his re-election bid on Nov. 2, will remain the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. He supports several of NAHB’s tax priorities, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, private activity bond cap increases and repeal of the estate tax.
At the end of the 108th Congress, Grassley sponsored a bipartisan bill that included a compromise version of the homeownership tax credit, which would increase housing opportunities for working families by helping to bridge the gap between what it costs to build homes in lower-income neighborhoods and the price that buyers in those neighborhoods can afford to pay. Grassley is expected to advance this legislation in the 109th Congress as well.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the committee’s ranking member, has a long history of effective bipartisan leadership and he was an important co-sponsor of the Grassley bill containing the homeownership tax credit initiative.
Both Grassley and Baucus supported NAHB efforts to include home energy efficiency tax credits in the Senate-passed version of the energy bill in the 108th Congress.
In the House, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA) will once again wield the gavel as chair of the Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) will return as the committee’s ranking member.
In the past, Thomas has supported many of NAHB’s tax priorities, including reducing capital gains rates for real estate, accelerating depreciation for real estate, repealing the estate tax and raising the private activity bond cap rate.
Both Thomas and Rangel have been supportive of NAHB efforts to include energy efficiency tax credits for housing in a final energy bill in the 108th Congress.
President Bush has indicated that he wants to tackle major tax issues in his second term, including tax simplification and overhauling Social Security to add private savings accounts. The House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee would be chiefly responsible for addressing these issues.
The Senate and House Judiciary Committees have jurisdiction over private property rights, tort reform and immigration issues. Further, all federal judicial appointments must go through the Senate Judiciary Committee for confirmation, a potentially contentious process. In general, controversial issues have been decided along partisan lines.
Under GOP Senate rules, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is limited from serving another term as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year. Beginning his fifth term in January, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) is in line to take over, but he has angered social conservatives by remarking on the day after the elections that President Bush could have a tough time winning confirmation for Supreme Court nominees who oppose abortion rights.
Since then, in an effort to quell the controversy, Specter has issued numerous statements that he will support Bush’s nominees to the high court. He has also met with Senate GOP leaders to plead his case and received the endorsement of several of his Republican colleagues on the Judiciary Committee. This should pave the way for Specter to assume the chairmanship of the committee when the 109th Congress convenes in January.
Specter has not been enthusiastic about NAHB's property rights and judicial reform legislation in the past.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) will return as the ranking member of the committee.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) — who will return for his fifth year as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee — is expected to advance a host of bills to reshape the nation’s tort system and he is likely to revive an NAHB-supported proposal to make it easier for class action lawsuits to be transferred to federal court. The House has passed this bill several times, but it has faced significant opposition in the Senate.
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) will return as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
This committee has jurisdiction over national energy policy and domestic timber supply.
Retaining the gavel over this committee in the 109th Congress, Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM)has supported NAHB policy on timber and forest issues. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), who returns as the ranking member, has been supportive of NAHB’s push for home energy efficiency tax credits as part of a comprehensive energy bill.
House Energy and Commerce Committee
This committee has jurisdiction over brownfields, mold, the Clean Air Act component of TEA-21 reauthorization and energy policy. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) will chair the panel and Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) will remain the committee’s ranking member.
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
The committee has jurisdiction over the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act (MSFA)/essential fish habitat (EFH) and, to some extent, TEA-21 reauthorization of the national transportation bill.
Due to term limits on chairmanships, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) will be vacating the chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee and will take over leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is likely to move to the chairmanship of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Stevens was the original sponsor of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and is supportive of NAHB’s environmental policy.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) will be stepping up to fill the seat of ranking member following the retirement of Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC).
House Resources Committee
The committee has jurisdiction over the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act (MFSA), domestic timber supply issues, federal land designations and water supply issues.
After two years as House Resources Committee chairman, Richard Pombo (R-CA) has indicated that he will make reform of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) a top priority for the 109th Congress. He worked closely with the nation’s home builders on this issue during the 108th Congress, when the committee passed two NAHB-supported ESA reform bills, H.R. 2933, the “Critical Habitat Reform Act” sponsored by Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), and H.R. 1662, the “Sound Science for Endangered Species Act Planning Act,” sponsored by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR).
Senate Environment and Public Works
The committee has jurisdiction over TEA-21 reauthorization, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and brownfields. Additionally, this committee has taken a lead in federal smart growth measures. NAHB anticipates that TEA-21 reauthorization will take center stage on the committee’s calendar in the 109th Congress.
Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) — a conservative who believes in local control of land use issues — will remain the chairman of the committee.
Sen. James Jeffords (I-VT) — who has championed environmental causes — will remain ranking member of the full committee.
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
This committee has jurisdiction over all modes of transportation, water quality and infrastructure and brownfields. Reps. Don Young (R-AK) and James Oberstar (D-MN) return as chairman and ranking member of this committee respectively.
House Education and the Workforce Committee/ Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
These committees have jurisdiction over measures governing labor and education, including, but not limited, to workforce incentive programs, vocational rehabilitation, wages and hours of labor, and labor standards and statistics.
The House Education and Workforce Committee shepherded several key NAHB legislative priorities through the 108th Congress, including association health plan and OSHA reform legislation. Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) will once again lead this panel in the 109th Congress.
On the Democratic side, Rep. George Miller (D-CA) should remain the ranking member of the full committee.
It is still unclear who will take command of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the 109th Congress. If Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), the committee’s current chair, decides to step down and seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee, then Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) is widely viewed as his most likely successor.
On the Democratic side, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) will likely maintain his position as ranking member. He has been a major opponent of association health plan legislation.
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