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GOP turnover reshapes Energy and Commerce

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Nov 29, 2022
Illustration of an exit sign with a person's silhouette forming the "I". 

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has seen less turnover than the Ways and Means exodus we told you about — but the next committee slate will still look different from the last time Republicans had a House majority.

The big picture: Just 13 Republicans who have been on the Energy and Commerce Committee since 2018 will still be in the House next year. And Rep. Steve Scalise, one of the 13, will leave the committee while he serves as House majority leader, his office confirmed.

Why it matters: Returning members who will rise in seniority next Congress could have more sway over the committee's agenda next year, said James Paluskiewicz, a senior policy adviser at Alston & Bird and former Republican chief health counsel for Energy and Commerce.

  • For example, Reps. Buddy Carter and Tim Walberg only joined Energy and Commerce in 2017. Next year, they'll be among the more senior members.
  • Other members like Reps. Larry Bucshon and Richard Hudson, who joined in 2015, could benefit from the turnover, too.
  • New GOP seats are likely to open up on the committee — though just how many remains to be seen, as incoming House leadership can shrink the committee's size. (McMorris Rodgers looks forward to welcoming new members, spokesperson Chris Krepich said.)

Yes, but: Next year’s committee will work in a different environment than the last time Republicans were in the majority. In 2018, Republicans also had a Senate majority and the White House.

  • Nuances like how the new chairperson chooses to work with other committees could make a bigger difference than member churn, since there's always must-pass legislation in front of the committee, Paluskiewicz said.
  • The committee will also have a different chair next Congress than in 2018, when Greg Walden was chairman.

Energy and Commerce Democrats will turnover in the next Congress, too, with eight committee Democrats leaving next year. Rep. Don McEachin's death last night leaves a ninth vacancy.

  • This member churn could protect junior Democrats from being kicked off Energy and Commerce when the party loses committee seats next session, depending on how many seats leadership gives the committee.
  • Democrats follow a last-in, first-out policy when they do remove members from committee due to majority changes, a former House Democratic aide said. That means Rep. Lizzie Fletcher of Texas would be the first to go next session if Democrats need to drop members.

This story has been updated to note McEachin's death.

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