Key U.S. House Committees Organize in the 113th Congress

By: Gina Luke and Dr. Ashley Morgan, assistant directors, Governmental Relations Division

After each election, the composition of Congress changes, as do the congressional committees. In this issue of The Advocate, we will focus on explaining the new makeup of the U.S. House committees that have jurisdiction over issues that are important to AVMA. Next month we will tackle changes to the U.S. Senate committees.

House Committee on Agriculture

Significant changes have been made to the House Committee on Agriculture, which has jurisdiction over every facet of the nation’s agricultural industry, both domestic and overseas, including operations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its various sub-agencies. The Agriculture Committee retains its chairman, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), and ranking member, Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), but has added 19 new members, including veterinarian Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.).

The two primary agriculture subcommittees that AVMA’s governmental relations division interacts with regularly are the Livestock, Rural Development and Credit (LRDC), and Horticulture, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture (HRBFA) subcommittees. LRDC has a new chair, Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), and ranking member, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.). The HRBFA also has a new chair, Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), and a new ranking member, veterinarian Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.).

The House Agriculture Committee is expected to pass a new, five-year farm bill that includes key provisions supported by AVMA, namely:

  • a new competitive veterinary services grant program to develop, implement, and sustain veterinary services;
  • an increased focus by USDA’s research enterprise on animal health, livestock production, and animal products, including identifying animal drug needs and the generation and dissemination of data for the safe and effective therapeutic applications of animal drugs for minor species;
  • the establishment of a foundation for food and agricultural research;
  • assurances that the National Animal Health Laboratory Network will be adequately funded; and
  • extensions for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank; the Competitive, Special and Facilities Research Grant; the Animal Health and Disease Research program; and the Regional Centers of Excellence in Food Supply Veterinary Medicine.

House Committee on Appropriations

The House Committee on Appropriations, chaired by Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), has 12 new members and a new ranking member, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

Most of the funding issues that AVMA deals with come before the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, which now has a new chair, Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.).  The ranking member will remain Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.).

This year, the Appropriations Committee is expected to complete work on the fiscal year 2013 spending bills and advance legislation to fund a host of programs and functions administered by the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.

House Energy and Commerce Committee

The House Energy and Commerce Committee (E&C) retains its chair, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), and ranking member, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.).  There was very little turnover on this committee—only 10 new members joined.

Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) continues to chair the Health Subcommittee with Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) serving as its ranking member. Of note to veterinary medicine is that the University of Pennsylvania-School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center is located in Rep. Pitts’ district.

The E&C Committee has jurisdiction over a wide range of policies that are related to consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health research, environmental quality, energy policy, and interstate and foreign commerce.  AVMA’s Governmental Relations Division expects that the E&C Committee will deal with legislation this year on the reauthorization of the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA) and changes to the governance on compounding.  If the Fairness to Pet Owners Act is reintroduced this Congress, then the E&C Committee will once again consider this legislation.

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