The balance of power did not change following the November elections although Democrats gained seats in both chambers. The Senate remains in the hands of the Democrats with a 55 to 45 majority, including two independents who will caucus with them. The House will continue under the control of Republicans. They will hold 234 seats while Democrats will have 201. During the 112th Congress, Republicans had a 242-193 majority.
Thirty-three Senate seats were contested in November (21 Democrats, 2 Independents, 10 Republicans). Six Democrats opted to retire; of these, five were replaced by another Democrat. All 15 Democrats and one Independent that sought reelection won their races. The other Independent was replaced by a Democrat. Three Republican senators retired, two were replaced by Republicans while an Independent won the other seat. Five of seven Republican senators running for re-election won their races.
Among the 12 newly elected U.S. Senators is seven-term congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) who sponsored the Veterinary Public Health Workforce Expansion Act when she was a House member. Other House members making successful jumps to the upper chamber are three-term congressman Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.); six-term congressman Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.); two-term congressman Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.); three-term congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii); and three-term congressman Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)
Six “Washington outsiders” made successful runs for U.S. Senate seats including two former governors. Angus King, a registered Independent who was a Hill staffer in the 1970s and went on to become governor of Maine, and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) who was previously the governor of Virginia and went on to become chair of the Democratic National Committee both won a seat in the Senate. The other four are Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a former Nebraska state senator; Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), a former North Dakota attorney general and tax commissioner; Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who has held no previous elected office, and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) a lawyer, who also has never held elected office.
Only two senators currently serving on the chamber’s Agriculture Committee will not be around when the 113th Congress convenes, retiring Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) both of whom lost their primary election. The Finance Committee will have four openings due to retiring senators, Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) The Budget Committee has just one departing senator, current Chair Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Appropriations will have one vacancy, Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), and Health Education Labor Pensions will also have one vacancy, Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) The departure of three senators, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), leave openings on the Homeland Security Committee, and three departures, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.), leave openings on the Small Business committee
Forty members of the House of Representatives opted to run for other office or retire from politics altogether (21 Democrats and 19 Republicans) and 13 incumbents lost primary battles (7 Democrats, 6 Republicans). In the general election, 10 incumbent Democrats lost re-election (4 to fellow Democrats and 6 to Republicans), 16 incumbent Republicans lost re-election to Democrats. Twenty-three candidates were elected to open seats (12 Democrats, 11 Republicans). Just two seats remain unsettled – Rep. Mike McIntyre’s (D-N.C.) leads by 655 votes over challenger David Rouzer, who has called for a recount. Reps. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and Jeff Landry (R-La.) will face each other in a runoff election on December 8.
At least seven seats on the House Agriculture Committee will change in the 113th but others will likely seek assignments to more prestigious committees. If Rep. McIntrye holds on for a victory in North Carolina he will be the Democrats’ Vice Chair on the committee. Leaving the committee due to defeat are current democratic Vice Chair Tim Holden (D-Penn.), Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa), Joe Baca (D-Calif.), Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) and Bobby Shilling (R-Ill.). There will be at least nine vacancies on Energy and Commerce (5 Republican and 4 Democrats departed) including Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) who lost in the primary to veterinarian and AVMA member Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) The Appropriations Committee will have at least two vacancies (1 Republican, 1 Democrat) as will the Budget Committee (1 Republican, 1 Democrat). Education and the Workforce will have at least seven vacancies (1 Republican, 6 Democrats), Homeland Security will have at least 8 vacancies (5 Republican, 3 Democrats). Oversight and Government Reform will have at least 9 vacancies (6 Republican, 3 Democrats), Small Business will have 5 vacancies (4 Republicans, 1 Democrat) and Ways and Means will have at least five vacancies (3 Republican, 2 Democrats).
For more information please contact Gina Luke, assistant director, AVMA Governmental Relations Division.