Next Congress Will See Big Changes to House/Senate Workforce Committees
House Education and Labor Committee
Despite an internal GOP rule barring members from serving more than three consecutive terms as a ranking member or chair of a committee, House Education and Labor Republican leader Virginia Foxx (NC) is actively seeking a waiver to lead the committee in the next Congress. Her odds of success are unclear, however. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy may not grant Foxx’s waiver request and a tense House GOP whip race is likely contributing to that uncertainty.
Elections for House leadership could be as soon as the week following the midterm. As McCarthy looks to place allies in positions to lead on key policy priorities, including education, Representative Jim Banks (IN) could be considered to lead Education and Labor if he loses his bid for GOP whip. Banks, who is on the committee, has not said whether or not he wants to lead the panel. Representative Tim Walberg (MI) who sits on the committee is also being considered to potentially lead it in the next Congress. He has also declined to comment on whether he would be interested in taking the helm. Committee leadership could be decided as early as the end of the month. Foxx’s team, however, has said she is running unopposed for the position, and that once she regains the chairmanship, she’ll rename the panel the Education and Workforce committee.
Regardless of the election outcome, the House Education and Labor Committee will look very different when the 118th Congress convenes next year: Michigan Democratic Representative Andy Levin (MI) lost a complicated, redistricting-sparked primary to fellow party and committee member Representative Haley Stevens (MI); New York Democratic Representative Mondaire Jones (NY) is also out after a redistricting battle with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney (NY); New York Republican Representative Chris Jacobs announced he would not seek another term in Congress in June after facing stiff conservative opposition; Pennsylvania Republican Fred Keller (PA) dropped out of a reelection bid in February, after he was redistricted into a potential primary race that would have pitted him again a fellow Republican; North Carolina Republican Representative Madison Cawthorn lost his primary election earlier this year; and finally, Alaska Democrat Mary Peltola, who joined the House Education and Labor Committee after beating former Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin in August in a special election for the state’s at-large congressional seat, faces a regular election for a full-term this month, leaving one final potential change to the committee’s makeup.
Senate HELP Committee
Senate HELP Committee Chair Senator Patty Murray (WA) is currently locked in a tight midterm election race against GOP political newcomer Tiffany Smiley, but even if Murray wins reelection, control of the committee gavel could change hands. Senator Richard Burr (NC), the HELP committee’s ranking member, is retiring from Congress at the end of this term. This departure could elevate Senator Rand Paul (KY) to lead the panel if Republicans gain control of the Senate. Murray could also leave HELP for the Senate Appropriations Committee, which could open a HELP leadership post for Senator Bernie Sanders (VT). Similarly, HELP Committee member Senator Maggie Hassan (NH) is locked in a tossup race with Republican Don Bolduc, so this is another tight race to watch.
Congressional retirements (and primary losses) will also impact who sits on the House and Senate appropriations subcommittees that fund the Labor and Education Departments. Senator Roy Blunt, ranking member of the Senate Labor-HHS panel, announced early last year that he would not be running for reelection; Senator Richard Shelby (AL), also a member of the Labor-HHS subcommittee, is retiring.
In the House, Representative Cheri Bustos (IL) is stepping down; Representative Jaime Herrera Bentley (WA) lost her primary; former USCM Board of Trustees member Representative Brenda Lawrence (MI) announced early this year that she would be stepping down; and Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA) decided to retire rather than seek reelection.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has indicated she has no intention of stepping down from her position after the midterm elections yet Democrats are still arguing over her possible successor. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has emerged as a top candidate to replace Yellen should she decide to leave; however, progressives such as Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA) and watchdog groups strongly oppose her for the position. They criticize Raimondo’s employment of big technology alumni at Commerce as well as her remarks on tech regulation - claiming she’d go easy in regards to regulating powerful interests in finance, tech and international trade.
House GOP/U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Last week, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) privately called on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce board members and state leaders to replace CEO Suzanne Clark. Chairman of the Chamber’s board Mark Ordan released a statement in support of Clark, saying the Chamber serves “a vital role in the daily defense of American business. We serve our members, not a political party. Staying true to that mission requires a smart, savvy, vigorous leader like our CEO Suzanne Clark.” The Chamber’s response threatens to widen a rift between the Chamber and House GOP leaders that started after the Chamber endorsed 23 Democrats in key 2020 House races. The relationship between the two has increasingly deteriorated as corporations have taken stances on social issues and decided to cut off PAC donations to lawmakers who voted against certifying the 2020 election results - which includes McCarthy. This year, the Chamber has endorsed 23 Republicans and four Democrats and donated $3 million to a super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) to boost Republican Senate hopeful Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. The business group has made it clear that they still align with Republicans who favor looser regulations and lower taxes for corporations.
On Friday, November 4, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the October jobs report, which showed better than expected job growth but it also indicates the pace is slowing. The nonfarm payrolls showed the U.S. economy added 261,000 jobs in October with the unemployment rate increasing from 3.5% to 3.7%. While that is lower than the revised September number of 315,000, it is above the 200,000 predicted by economists.The average hourly earnings grew 4.7% from a year ago and 0.4% for the month, indicating that wage growth is still likely to serve as price pressure as worker pay is still well short of the rate of inflation.
Click here to access the report.
Click here to access Secretary Walsh’s statement on the October Jobs Report.