November 01, 2016

Republicans maintain majorities for 115th Congress

Republicans − who will be in control of the White House, Senate and House for the first time in 10 years − began organizing for the 115th Congress this month with narrower Senate and House majorities than in the current Congress.

Still awaiting the results of Dec. 10 runoff elections in Louisiana for two House seats and one Senate seat, the 115th Congress currently stands at 239 Republicans and 194 Democrats in the House and 51 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents in the Senate. The upcoming Congress will be the most diverse in history with 39 Hispanics, 49 African-Americans and 15 Asian-Americans.

House Republicans re-elected Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) as speaker of the House. Ryan assumed the speakership in 2015 following the resignation of Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio). Joining Ryan on the House Republican leadership team are Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.). House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was chosen by the Democrats to retain her position, along with Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.).

Senate Republicans chose to keep Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) in their leadership positions. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will replace retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D- Nev.) as the Senate minority leader, and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) will retain his position as minority whip.

The Senate Judiciary Committee, which will continue to be chaired by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), will have a new ranking member, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). Feinstein, the first woman to hold that position, steps into the seat that Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) vacated to assume the position of ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“This committee, which touches the lives of so many Americans, will face many tough issues in the coming years, and I’ll do my level best to represent all Americans,” Feinstein said, pointing out that one of the first orders of business will be the consideration of a new attorney general and a new Supreme Court justice.

“We have a lot of work to do. The Judiciary Committee has shown that it can lead the way toward bipartisan solutions on some of the most controversial issues like immigration reform and sex trafficking. I’m hopeful that we’ll keep that tradition alive,” she said.

In the House, Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) will remain as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) will serve once again as ranking member.

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