January 3: Who Will Be Sitting When the Music Stops?


A new era begins with a new Congress on January 3, 2023.  For the first time since 2007, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will no longer serve as the leader of House Democrats.  However, it remains unclear who will succeed Pelosi as Speaker, as several Republican House members are refusing to support Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the current top Republican in the House.  For most other leadership positions and top committee spots, selections for the 118th Congress are expected to be non-controversial and generally follow lines of seniority. This blog post takes a look at who is expected to assume top leadership and committee roles in the new Congress, and why some selections have yet to be determined.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the Republican leader of the 116th and 117th Congress, was highly favored to be elected speaker in the new Congress, but the results of the 2022 midterm election changed the calculus.  A person needs a simple majority of all present and voting House members to be elected speaker, which amounts to  218 votes if all 435 representatives are present.  However, House Republicans’ narrow 10-seat majority in the House leaves McCarthy with little wiggle room when it comes to earning the support of his caucus.

To get to 218 votes, McCarthy can’t afford to lose more than four votes from House Republicans, and currently,  five GOP House members are declining to support him.  Most of these five Republicans have different reasons for why they oppose McCarthy – some are critical of his leadership, while others say he lacks a strong policy agenda – which makes the situation tricky for McCarthy to address.  Other Republicans have signaled that they will support McCarthy if he agrees to change certain conference rules, such as allowing a “motion to vacate,” which gives any member the power to bring up a vote at any time to oust a speaker. McCarthy has yet to give in to this demand, although things could change as negotiations with the few remaining GOP holdouts continue.

The vote for the speakership is set for Tuesday, January 3.  If McCarthy fails to reach 218 votes, several scenarios could play out.  First, House Clerk Cheryl Johnson could repeat a vote for the speakership until someone receives a majority, although this hasn’t happened since 1923.  Second, Republicans could adjourn the House to provide more time to negotiate and reach agreement on a candidate for speaker.  Either way, many Republicans anticipate that it could take multiple votes before a final candidate gets to 218.

Uncertainty about who will be elected speaker has had a domino effect throughout the House Republican Conference, resulting in unanswered questions on who will chair several key committees in the House.  While the House Republican Conference Steering Committee met and selected chairs for most committees on December 7, decisions on who will lead several key committees were tabled until January, which includes the Ways and Means Committee.

Of the three Republicans vying for the gavel of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is touting his business background, Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) is taking a populist approach while emphasizing his ties to working class voters, and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) is presenting himself as a top policy expert.  Whoever is elected chairman will have the opportunity to shape health care policy, due to the committee’s jurisdiction on Medicare.

Jason Smith’s bid to lead the Ways and Means Committee complicates the situation for the Budget Committee, where he currently sits as the committee’s top Republican.  If the Missouri Republican succeeds in the competition to lead Ways and Means, Reps. Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), and Buddy Carter (R-GA) are the top candidates to chair the Budget Committee in the next Congress.

The situation is similarly complicated for the House Homeland Security Committee, where several Republicans are seeking the gavel: Reps. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), Mark Green (R-TN), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Dan Bishop (R-NC), and Scott Perry(R-PA).   The committee is expected to conduct oversight of the Biden administration’s border security policies in the next Congress.

The House Education and Workforce Committee is also currently without a Republican leader in the new Congress.  The House Republican Conference currently bars members from leading a committee for more than three consecutive terms, regardless of which party has the majority.  GOP leadership granted Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the committee’s current ranking member, a waiver to serve as the committee’s top GOP member for a fourth term in the 118th Congress; however, an unexpected challenge for the gavel from Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI) means a final decision on who will chair the committee won’t be made until January. Finally, since the speaker selects the chair of the House Administration Committee, it will remain unknow who will lead this committee until House Republicans settle on a speaker.

Democrats in the House and Senate have already finalized most committee and leadership assignments for the 118th Congress, as have Senate Republicans.  However, House Republicans are sure to enter the new year in a state of uncertainty as disagreements over who will be second in presidential line of succession remain unresolved.


Speaker: TBD

Majority Leader: Steve Scalise (R-LA)

Minority Leader: Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)

Minority Whip: Katherine Clark (D-MA)

Committee Chairs and Ranking Members 

Agriculture: G.T. Thompson (R-PA)

Ranking Member David Scott (D-GA)

Appropriations: Kay Granger (R-TX)

Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

Armed Services: Mike Rogers (R-AL)

Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA)

Budget: TBD

Ranking Member Brendan Boyle (D-PA)

Education and Workforce: TBD

Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA)

Energy and Commerce: Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ)

Ethics: Michael Guest (R-MS)

Ranking Member Susan Wild (D-PA)

Financial Services: Patrick McHenry (R-NC)

Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA)

Foreign Affairs: Michael McCaul (R-TX)

Ranking Member Gregory Meeks (D-NY)

Homeland Security: TBD

Ranking Member Bennie Thompson (D-MS)

House Administration: TBD

Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)

Judiciary: Jim Jordan (R-OH)

Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)

Natural Resources: Bruce Westerman (R-AR)

Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ)

Oversight and Reform: Jim Comer (R-KY)

Ranking Member Jamie Raskin (D-MD)

Rules: Tom Cole (R-OK)

Ranking Member Jim McGovern (D-MA)

Science, Space, and Technology: Frank Lucas (R-OK)

Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) 

Small Business: Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)

Ranking Member Nydia Velázquez (D-NY)

Transportation and Infrastructure: Sam Graves (R-MO)

Ranking Member Rick Larsen (D-WA)

Veterans’ Affairs: Mike Bost (R-IL)

Ranking Member Mark Takano (D-CA)

Ways and Means: TBD

Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA)

Intelligence: Mike Turner (R-OK)

Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-CA)


Top Leadership 

Majority Leader: Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Majority Whip: Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Minority Leader: Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Minority Whip: John Thune (R-SD)

Committee Chairs and Ranking Members

Aging: Bob Casey (D-PA)

Ranking Member Mike Braun (R-IN)

Agriculture: Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Ranking Member John Boozman (R-AR)

Appropriations: Patty Murray (D-WA)

Ranking Member Susan Collins (R-ME)

Armed Services: Jack Reed (D-RO)

Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-SC)

Budget: Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC)

Commerce: Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Energy and Natural Resources: Joe Manchin (D-WV)

Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY)

Environment and Public Works:  Tom Carper (D-DE)

Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)

Ethics: Chris Coons (D-DE)

Ranking Member James Lankford (R-OK)

Finance: Ron Wyden (D-OR)

Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-ID)

Foreign Relations: Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

Ranking Member James Risch (R-ID)

HELP: Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

Homeland Security: Gary Peters (D-MI)

Ranking Member Rand Paul (R-KY) 

Indian Affairs: Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

Intelligence: Mark Warner (D-VA)

Ranking Member Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Judiciary: Dick Durbin (D-IL)

Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA)

Rules and Administration: Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Ranking Member Deb Fischer (R-NE)

Small Business: Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Ranking Member Joni Ernst (R-IA)

Veterans’ Affairs: Jon Tester (D-MT)

Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS)

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