Education Committees Take Shape for 115th Congress

January 2017

With the swearing in of the 115th Congress at the beginning of January, committees responsible for funding and authorizing agencies supporting education research have announced both new and familiar faces.

In the Senate, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) will continue to lead the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee as chair and ranking member, respectively. Sens. Todd Young (R-IN), Maggie Hassan (D- NH), and Tim Kaine (D-VA) have joined the HELP Committee.

Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) remains chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) taking over as ranking member with the retirement of Barbara Mikulski (D-MD). Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Murray will continue their roles as chair and ranking member, respectively, of the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS). Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) is expected to remain chair of the subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS), while Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) will take over as ranking member.

In the House, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) has taken over the gavel of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce from John Kline (R-MN), who retired after last session.  Chairwoman Foxx released the roster of new Republican members who will serve on the committee: Reps. Drew Ferguson (GA), Tom Garrett (VA), Jason Lewis (MN), Paul Mitchell (MI), Francis Rooney (FL), and Lloyd Smucker (PA).

The five Democratic spots on the committee have been filled by Reps. Donald Norcross (NJ), Lisa Blunt Rochester (DE), Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL), Carol Shea-Porter (NH), and Adriano Espaillat (NY). The full committee membership is available here.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-IN) will continue to chair the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education, and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) has been selected to serve as ranking member. Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) will chair the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development. Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA) will serve as ranking member of this subcommittee.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) was selected as the new chair of the House Appropriations Committee, replacing Hal Rogers (R-KY), who had to step down from the chairmanship due to term limits. Nita Lowey (D-NY) will continue to serve as ranking member. The leadership of the LHHS subcommittee will remain the same in the 115th Congress, with Tom Cole (R-OK) as chair and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) as ranking member. John Culberson (R-TX) will continue as chair of the CJS subcommittee, while a ranking member has not yet been named to replace Michael Honda, who lost his re-election bid.

Reps. Jaime Beutler (R-WA) and John Moolenaar (R-MI) are new members of the LHHS subcommittee. Rep. Lowey has announced four new Democratic members of the full Appropriations Committee: Reps. Grace Meng (NY), Mark Pocan (WI), Katherine Clark (MA), and Pete Aguilar (CA). As of publication, they have not yet been assigned to subcommittees.

Leaders in both chambers have been outspoken about their intentions to move legislation to reauthorize both the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act and the Higher Education Act this coming session.

Members of Congress have formed a new caucus to support the goals of public education. The caucus includes Democratic Reps. Alma Adams (NC), Suzanne Bonamici (OR), Rosa DeLauro (CT), Mark DeSaulnier (CA), Raul Grijalva (AZ), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Jared Polis (CO), Jamie Raskin (MD), Mark Takano (CA), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ). The group hopes to attract more members in the upcoming days.