To: AAAE/ACI-NA Chief Executives and Airport Operators
Re: 109th Congress Begins Tomorrow; Changes Mean New Players on Airport Priorities
The 109th Congress will convene tomorrow at to swear in members of the House and Senate and to begin the process of formally organizing itself for the two year period ahead. The November elections, self-imposed term-limits for committee chairmanships, and internal rules changes will affect some of the key players and committees we have traditionally dealt with on a number of key airport priorities, including security-related issues.
One of the biggest anticipated changes is the creation of a permanent Homeland Security Committee in the House of Representatives with primary legislative and oversight jurisdiction over key functions of the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. Previously, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held primary jurisdiction over TSA and transportation security, and the T&I Committee has argued vigorously that it should maintain its oversight in this area given the fact that the committee drafted the legislation creating the TSA and in light of its expertise in understanding the operational needs of the aviation system and other modes of transportation.
T&I Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK) will press the committee’s case again tonight in a meeting with House Republicans in advance of tomorrow’s vote on approving the creation of the Homeland Security Committee and other rules changes. Young will likely offer an amendment to clarify that T&I has equal jurisdiction over transportation security and other areas, although it is unclear that the T&I effort will be successful given House leadership support for the proposal as drafted.
In either case, it is clear that we will have a new committee to deal with in the House on security-related policy questions. It should be noted that the move to consolidate homeland security jurisdiction in one committee is in line with a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission, which criticized Congress for giving too many committees jurisdiction over the Department. The House Homeland Security Committee will be chaired by Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA), who chaired the temporary and less powerful House Select Homeland Security Committee in the 108th Congress. It is unclear at this point, what the subcommittee makeup of the committee will be and who will lead those panels.
Late last year, the Senate voted against making a similar change to consolidate jurisdiction for transportation security and other DHS-related pieces under the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. Consequently, the Commerce Committee will maintain its oversight and legislative functions for transportation security in the Senate. The Commerce Committee also has jurisdiction over all aspects of aviation policy. Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) will take over as Commerce Committee Chairman in the 109th Congress because of term limits on committee chairmen, replacing Senator John McCain (R-AZ), who chaired the committee for the past six years. Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HA) will become ranking member of the Committee, replacing Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC), who retired. The reshuffling will also likely affect the leadership of the Aviation Subcommittee, which was chaired by Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) in the 108th Congress. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) will likely remain as subcommittee ranking Democrat.
In addition to changes on security policy, there will also be some movement on the appropriations front where term-limits have forced Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and Representative Bill Young (R-FL) to relinquish their chairmanships of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees respectively. In the Senate, Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) will take over as full committee chairman while maintaining the helm of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. In the House, three senior lawmakers are vying to take over for Young as Appropriations Committee Chairman. The House Steering Committee will vote on Wednesday to give the gavel to either Ralph Regula (R-OH), Jerry Lewis (R-CA) or Hal Rogers (R-KY). There will be some changes in the subcommittee lineup on the House Appropriations Committee depending on who becomes full committee chairman.
There is also a possibility that the subcommittees could be reshuffled and consolidated to make room for an Intelligence Subcommittee or to accommodate other changes. We’ll keep you posted on these and other developments.
Leadership of Key Committees
Although final decisions on committee and subcommittee composition will not be finalized for a few days or weeks in some cases, here’s a thumbnail of what is expected for key committees with jurisdiction over aviation and security policy and spending:
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
§ Full Committee Chairman – Don Young (R-AK)
§ Full Committee Ranking Democrat – Jim Oberstar (D-MN)
§ Aviation Subcommittee Chairman – John Mica (R-FL)
§ Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Democrat – Jerry Costello (D-IL) is likely to replace Peter DeFazio (D-OR), who will likely move to take over as ranking member of the Highways Subcommittee. The retirement of Bill Lipinski (D-IL) has forced the realignment.
House Appropriations Committee
§ Full Committee Chairman – As was mentioned above, Ralph Regula (R-OH), Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Hal Rogers (R-KY) are all vying to replace outgoing Chairman Bill Young (R-FL), who is forced out because of the six-year term limit for committee chairmen. A final decision is expected later this week.
§ Full Committee Ranking Democrat – David Obey (D-WI) remains as ranking member of the committee.
§ Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman –Hal Rogers (R-KY) will maintain control of the subcommittee unless he is selected as full committee chairman.
§ Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Democrat – Martin Sabo (D-MN) will continue as ranking Democrat.
§ Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman – Ernest Istook (R-OK) is expected to maintain his post as subcommittee chairman.
§ Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Democrat – John Olver (D-MA).
House Homeland Security Committee
As was mentioned above, the only thing clear at this point is that Rep. Christopher Cox (R-CA) will chair the new committee.
Senate Commerce Committee
§ Full Committee Chairman – Ted Stevens (R-AK) replaces John McCain (R-AZ), who is forced from the chairmanship by term limits.
§ Full Committee Ranking Democrat – Daniel Inouye (D-HA) replaces Fritz Hollings (D-SC), who retired.
§ Aviation Subcommittee Chairman – Unclear. Conrad Burns (R-MT), John McCain (R-AZ), and Trent Lott (R-MS) are possibilities. Lott chaired the subcommittee in the 108th Congress but could be bumped or decide to take a different subcommittee.
§ Aviation Subcommittee Ranking Democrat – Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) will begin his third term as subcommittee ranking member.
Senate Appropriations Committee
§ Full Committee Chairman – Thad Cochran (R-MS) takes over for Ted Stevens (R-AK) who was forced to give up the chairmanship because of six-year term limit.
§ Full Committee Ranking Democrat – Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) continues as ranking Democrat.
§ Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman – Cochran (R-MS) will also continue as Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman.
§ Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Democrat – Byrd (D-WV) will continue as Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Democrat.
§ Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman – Richard Shelby (R-AL) will continue as subcommittee chairman.
§ Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Democrat – Patty Murray (D-WA) will continue as subcommittee ranking member.
While much of the information outlined here is inside baseball, it will have an effect on how we proceed in the new year on some of our key priorities, so we wanted to make sure you were aware of the changes. Stay tuned for an exciting year.