Leadership Election Results

Republicans in the House and Senate and Senate Democrats elected their leadership teams for the 115th Congress last week. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was unanimously re-nominated to serve in the position for the next two years. Ryan ran unopposed for the top leadership spot. While Ryan’s relationship with President-Elect Donald Trump was uneven throughout the campaign, Ryan has credited Trump with GOP House and Senate majorities, and Trump’s congressional liaison Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) signaled Trump’s support for the Speaker by seconding his nomination. Individual members of the conservative Freedom Caucus and the more centrist Tuesday Group also supported the nomination in a display of party unity. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), GOP Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), and Policy Chairman Luke Messer (R-Ind.) were also all unanimously re-elected to their leadership posts. There were only two contested races in the GOP leadership decision. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio) defeated Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas) for the position of National Republican Congressional Committee chairman by a vote of 143-96. And Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) beat out Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas) in the race for GOP Conference Vice Chairman. Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) will serve as GOP Conference Secretary. The House will formally vote to elect the Speaker in January.

House Democrats were scheduled to vote on leadership last week, but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) decided to delay the elections until November 30 at the request of more than 30 House Democrats. The Republican sweep of the elections has left some members in support of a change of party leadership and messaging. The additional time will allow members the opportunity to challenge Pelosi for the Minority Leader position. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) is currently the only member to have thrown his name into the ring. Some House Democrats tried to recruit Joseph Crowley of New York for the position, but he has said that he will instead challenge for the position of Democratic Caucus Chairman. Pelosi, however, is still favored to beat any challenge given the relatively broad support from her caucus. In her official letter announcing her bid for the top House Democrat position, she cited the backing of 2/3 of the caucus.

In the Senate, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was unanimously chosen to succeed the retiring Harry Reid (D-Nev.) as Senate Minority Leader. Schumer expanded his leadership team to ten members in order to avoid any leadership contests and to be more inclusive to members from all parts of the Democratic Party. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) will remain in his post as party whip. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was selected as Assistant Leader, and will remain at her post as Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) will serve as the Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee and Sen. Joe Manchin, III (D-W.V.) will serve as Vice-Chair. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) will both serve as Vice-Chairs of the Conference. The job of Chairman of the Steering and Outreach Committee will be split between current Chairman Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who will serve as Chair of Steering, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who was named Democratic Chairman of Outreach. As such, Sanders will continue to caucus with Democrats, but will remain an Independent. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) will fill the job of Secretary of the Conference, and newly elected Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) will serve as Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. It was also decided that Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will succeed the retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) as the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will replace Leahy as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee – putting her as the lead Democrat in preparation for Supreme Court confirmation hearings under the new administration.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was unanimously re-elected. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) will remain the Majority Whip, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) stays on as Conference Chairman with Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) as the Vice-Chair, and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) will be Chair of the Republican Policy Committee. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is the only new member of Senate Republican leadership. He will head the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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