Tracking Committee Leaders for 115th Congress

January 17, 2017

TipSheet: Tracking Committee Leaders for 115th Congress

The media’s attention may be mostly on President-elect Donald J. Trump as he prepares to take up residence in the White House Friday. But just down the road at the U.S. Capitol, the 115th Congress is already newly seated and poised to take on issues highly relevant to environment and energy journalists.

To help with your coverage, TipSheet highlights top Congressional committee leadership and contact info (phone numbers for committee staff offices that handle legislation). We focus on key committees because they act as gate-keepers to determine much of what happens in the full House and Senate. And we list both the chairman, who usually wields most of the power, and the ranking minority member, who often has much influence.

We also take a closer look at three key Senate committees dealing with environment and energy issues. As news demands and time permits in coming months, we’ll report on more.

Senate Environment

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee has jurisdiction over most pollution-control legislation and most of what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does. It also doles out water development projects. Because the Senate is the pivot-point in partisan balance in this Congress, the Environment Committee will be a key test for the Trump/GOP agenda.

Sen. John Barrasso
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wy.), with an agenda supportive of fossil fuels, will chair the Senate Environment Committee.

The newly seated chairman, John Barrasso (League of Conservation Voters score: 9%), comes from Wyoming, a major coal and oil state. Predictably, his agenda is supportive of fossil fuels. The news service BNA describes him as a skeptic on human-caused climate change and a “fierce opponent” of President Obama’s climate agenda — including the Paris Agreement and the EPA Clean Power Plan.

Chair: John Barrasso, R-Wyo. (202) 224-6176

Ranking: Tom Carper, D-Del. (202) 224-8832

Senate Energy

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has jurisdiction not only over most energy matters, but also over the wide-ranging business of the Department of the Interior.

Both Chairman Lisa Murkowski (LCV score: 18%) and Ranking Minority Member Maria Cantwell (LCV Score: 91%) are holdovers from the previous Congress. Murkowski’s home state of Alaska is a major oil producer, and she has been a proponent of oil production on public lands, including Arctic tracts offshore.

Murkowski and Cantwell will likely seek to revive their moderate “bipartisan” energy bill (S. 2012), which died at the end of the last Congress. Any Congressional intervention in coal leasing (which outgoing President Barack Obama curtailed and Trump is likely to increase) would go through this committee, although Trump’s Interior Department can do a lot on coal without Congress.

Chair: Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark. (202) 224-4971

Ranking: Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. (202) 224-4971

Senate Agriculture

The Agriculture Committee has jurisdiction over the Farm Bill, and the next one is due by the end of this Congress in 2018. The Farm Bill deals with many issues of concern to environmental journalists, including soil and water conservation, nutrition and the use of agricultural chemicals.

Chair: Pat Roberts, R-Kan. (202) 224-2035

Ranking: Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. (202) 224-2035

Other Senate, House committees

The following committees are also important. Many of the measures authorized by legislative committees can not be implemented without funding by appropriations committees. The TipSheet may publish more background on these panels in future issues.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment

Chair: Lisa Murkowski, R-Ark.

Ranking: Tom Udall, D-N.M.

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water

Chair: Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Ranking: Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

House Energy

Chair: Greg Walden, R-Ore. (202) 226-4972

Ranking: Frank Pallone, D-N.J. (202) 225-5735

House Natural Resources

Chair: Rob Bishop, R-Utah (202) 225-2761

Ranking: Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. (202) 225-6065

House Science

Chair: Lamar Smith, R-Texas (202) 225-6371

Ranking: Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas (202) 225-6375

House Agriculture

Chair: Mike Conaway, R-Texas (202) 225-2171

Ranking: Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn. (202) 225-0317

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, EPA

Chair: Ken Calvert, R-Calif. (202) 225-3081

Ranking: Betty McCollum, D-Minn.

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water

Chair: Mike Simpson, R-Idaho (202) 225-3421

Ranking: Marcy Kaptur, D-Calif.

* From the weekly news magazine SEJournal Online, Vol. 2, No. 3. Content from each new issue of SEJournal Online is available to the public via the SEJournal Online main pageSubscribe to the e-newsletter here.  And see past issues of the SEJournal archived here.

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