After 15 rounds of voting and nearly a week of stalemate on Capitol Hill, House members elected California Republican Kevin McCarthy to serve as their speaker, kicking off the official start of the 118th Congress in the House of Representatives in the early hours of Jan. 7.
Settling out leadership at the top of the chamber has provided for certainty on leadership at key House committees whose jurisdiction helps to determine Federal technology and cybersecurity policy. With the shift in House control from Democrats to Republicans, that means a whole new cast for committee chairs and ranking members from the minority party.
Here is MeriTalk’s primer on the new leadership ranks and changes to be aware of for key House committees active on Federal IT and cyber issues:
House Oversight and Reform Committee
The House Oversight and Reform Committee, which Republicans have renamed the Oversight and Accountability Committee, is the main investigative committee in House. The committee’s broad jurisdiction and legislative authority make it one of the most influential and powerful panels in the House.
Notably, the committee has for the past eight years issued the semiannual FITARA Scorecard that ranks Federal agencies on their IT progress, and its Government Operations Subcommittee has been especially active on the Federal IT front.
Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who was the committee’s ranking member, has taken the helm of the committee as the new chair. The House Democratic Caucus voted Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., to serve as the ranking member.
House Energy and Commerce Committee
This committee oversees the “global competitive edge” in energy, technology, and healthcare, and in the 118th is expected to maintain a sharp focus on Big Tech accountability.
The Committee on Energy and Commerce is one of the oldest standing committees in Congress and maintains principal oversight for telecommunications – with jurisdiction over the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The 117th Congress oversaw a lot of legislation on broadband, and the 118th Congress is expected to keep a similar focus.
Both of the previous Democratic and Republican committee leaders won their reelections, and are swapping chair and ranking member status in the 118th Congress. That means Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has become the chairwoman of the committee, and Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., is the ranking member.
House Committee on Appropriations
As the name suggests, the Committee on Appropriations is responsible for passing budget bills with its Senate counterparts, and as such is critical to the outcome of Federal agency IT and cyber funding plans.
Both leaders from the previous Congress won their reelection campaigns, and will trade places in leadership. Kay Granger, R-Texas, has become the chairwoman for the committee, and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is taking the ranking member position.
House Armed Services Committee
This powerful committee oversees military spending and oversight, and much of that through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – which mostly funds the military and intelligence agency functions but is also a frequent landing spot for non-military cybersecurity and technology-related provisions.
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., chaired the committee last year, with Rep. Mike Rogers as the ranking member. Both won their reelection campaigns, and they will swap leadership positions in the 118th Congress, with Rep. Rogers taking the chair, and Rep. Smith becoming the ranking member.
House Intelligence Committee
This committee oversees the nation’s intelligence agencies, and in the 117th Congress was chaired by Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., with Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, as the ranking member.
Both congressmen won reelection. Rep. Turner presumably will take over as the chair. Whether Rep. Schiff becomes the ranking member is uncertain, as House Speaker McCarthy has said he will try to block his membership on the committee.
House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
This committee primarily has jurisdiction over research and development in key agencies like NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation.
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., who was ranking member of the committee last year, is taking over the chair of the committee, formerly held by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, who retired from Congress. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., will become the ranking member.
House Homeland Security Committee
This committee oversees homeland security issues and receives legislation on matters relating to the Department of Homeland Security – and on key issues including cybersecurity.
Rep. John Katko, R.-N.Y., who was ranking member of the committee last year, has retired from Congress. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., who chaired the committee last year, will become the new ranking member.
Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., won a tight contest to become the committee’s new chairman in the 118th Congress.
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
The standing Committee on Veterans’ Affairs oversees agencies, reviews current legislation, and recommends new bills or amendments concerning U.S. military veterans. The panel often supervises IT modernization moves – particularly for electronic health record systems development – by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The former ranking member, Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., will take over as chair of the committee. The former chair, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., will stay in the leadership position for the minority party as the ranking member.