All too often in transitions from one Congress to the next, media “pundits” and others who follow these developments ignore details and changes impacting Congressional Subcommittees, where much of the future “work” for the 116th Congress (2019-2020) will be done. Have you factored into your government relations plans for 2019 Congressional subcommittee “change challenges?”
The task is daunting—there are 97 US House and 89 US Senate Subcommittees contained in 21 full Committees for each body, and to make matters even more interesting, the most recent statistics indicate 1,131 US House and 1,262 US Senate Committee staffs with a grand total of almost 2,400 persons not counting the personal legislative directors and top staffs of Members which at a minimum would be 535 (435 House and 100 Senate) times two for over 1,000 additional key personnel. Not all of these staffers are critical to policy or legislative priorities, but the statistics point to a growing number of Subcommittees, staffs and areas of jurisdiction that must be considered in any strategy for success.
The primary process that most of us are familiar with is the selection by Congressional leadership and their party members of Committee chairs each Congress. In the last Congressional transition (114th to 115th) the Majority thru the Speaker(Rep.Ryan (R-WI) announced all Committee Chairs on December 1st,2016 and the Minority Leader (Rep.Pelosi, D-CA) on January 11,2017. These winter month decisions (usually finalized by the beginning of February, in time for the submission of the Federal budget from the President for FY2020) have a great impact on selection of Subcommittee chairs as these are decisions involving not just a Committee Chair, by the leaders of each respective parties and under rules for consideration and process going forward.
Why are Subcommittees so important for planning purposes?
In most of the Committee structure, legislation is referred after introduction, and hearing proposed at the Subcommittee level. They are grouped by subject categories and members and staff become expert at issues—many of these subcommittees make decisions on funding or authorizing in the very programs impacting all who seek support within the Congress for their bill, or appropriations line item. No matter if it is a livestock issue, or aviation(airport)project, the applicable subcommittee is the place to focus.
What is the planning that would go into targeting subcommittees?
Key to plan for influencing a new chair of a subcommittee would be their staff director and professional staffs, usually in place by the beginning of February,if not before. Announcements on major program or issue areas for a new subcommittee to change in subcommittee leadership is also critical. Review the calendar of the last Congress for the subcommittee to determine hearings, dates for markup of key bills and combine this with District work periods or “recess dates” for 2019 in the official Congressional schedule. “Go early and make a good, succinct case” and follow through with Subcommittee staffs throughout 2019.
What are some of the certain changes in Subcommittees for 2019?
While the following is not a full listing, you need to review in detail with assistance the changes that Congressional subcommittees bring to your programs. Some (regardless of the election outcomes) will be as follows: US House, Aviation, Coast Guard and Maritime, Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Managements, Health, Communications and Technology, Border and Maritime Security, Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education and in the US Senate, Privacy, Technology and the Law, Africa and Global Health Policy, Water and Power, and, of course, there will be numerous changes based on “movement” by leaders from one subcommittee to another or committee depending on their goals.
A review of all of the 97 plus 89 Subcommittees in the last (115th) Congress indicate that most all of the Chairs were announced throughout the month of January, very few spilling over to subsequent months (such as the House Rules Subcommittees February 2, or the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittees, March 3). Therefore, in the details of the process relating to Subcommittees the following action items are critical:
- Know the jurisdiction on issues of all Congressional subcommittees involved in your objectives—there is overlap and in some cases one would not ordinarily know where the program falls;
- Monitor closely the Committee Chair and Top staff selections,especially in competitions for the Chair position and know the day-by-day process as to party, leadership and member requests (and approvals) of subcommittee chairs;
- Watch for leadership announcements(usually Committee Chairs)on members who have been selected to serve on all Subcommittees which usually follow Subcommittee chair selections(these are targets for policy and legislative action during the Session)
Are you preparing for Congressional Subcommittee change in 2019 that might prove critical to you objectives for this 116th Congress? The McKeon Group has been preparing and is ready to assist in these very challenging times in a very divided Congress.