New Congressional Committee Assignments and Administration

New Congressional Committee Assignments and Administration

By Kate Walker, Legislative Assistant, Water Strategies

The 117th Congress not only began with a new administration, but with Democrats holding a majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate. While President Biden has announced a number of appointments to form his administration, the Senate and House have only begun the process of establishing committee seats, including chairs, and ranking members--as of the writing of this article.

The confirmation process of individuals nominated for positions in the administration can take months to complete. President Biden has started the process by appointing numerous cabinet positions and deputy secretaries; however, many of the positions important to the League and water users throughout the West have not been announced. Below is a list of appointees of note to League members that have been announced and are awaiting confirmation by the Senate:

  • Secretary of the Interior: Deb Haaland
  • Deputy Secretary of the Interior: Elizabeth Klein
  • Bureau of Reclamation Deputy Commissioner: Maria (Camille) Touton
  • Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science: Tanya Trujillo
  • Environmental Protection Agency Administrator: Michael Regan
  • Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator: Janet McCabe
  • Environmental Protection Agency Assistant Administrator in the Office of Water: Radhika Fox
  • Secretary of Energy: Jennifer Granholm
  • Secretary of Agriculture: Tom Vilsack
  • Deputy Secretary of Agriculture: Jewel H. Bronaugh
  • Secretary of State: Antony Blinken

While many of the House committees remain similar to the 116th Congress, there are a few changes significant to Washington State water users, which include the following:

  • Energy and Commerce: Ranking Member Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
  • Natural Resources: Ranking Member Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR)
  • Agriculture Committee: Ranking Member Rep. GT Thompson (R-PA)

The successful elections of Jon Ossoff (D-GA) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) resulted in Democrats taking control of the Senate. Subsequently, Democrats will now hold leadership positions in key Senate committees including:

  • Energy and Natural Resources: Chairman Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • Environment and Public Works: Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE)
  • Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: Chairman Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA)

The change in leadership has led many of the leadership positions to shift to members from the eastern United States. While this poses certain challenges for western water users, it will provide the League with new opportunities to advocate on behalf of the Odessa Ground Water Replacement Program.

In November, the Western Caucus executive committee elected Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) to be Chairman of the Western Caucus. The Western Caucus is a coalition of members of Congress that work to forward the initiatives of rural, western communities. Chairman Newhouse will have the opportunity to set the agenda and priorities for the caucus. This will provide water users the opportunity to highlight important issues impacting Washington State and rural communities throughout the West.

Stay up to date with Project happenings every month.