The votes were counted, the president was re-elected, Democrats kept control of the U.S. Senate and Republicans still run the House of Representatives. Though the status quo remains in many cases, the election did usher in some changes that will affect Ducks Unlimited and our public policy priorities.
Waterfowl and wildlife issues are shared between the congressional committees on energy and natural resources, and environment and public works. The Farm Bill and other agricultural issues are controlled by the Senate and House agriculture committees.
All committees have a chairman (who is a member of the majority political party) and a ranking member (a member of the minority party). These two representatives are often the top decision makers when it comes to DU’s priorities, so it’s important to know who they are.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Sen. Ron Wyden (OR) will take over this committee’s chairmanship from retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (NM). Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) is likely to maintain her position as the ranking member of the committee.
House Natural Resources Committee
There is speculation circulating that the current chairman, Rep. Doc Hastings (WA), may take the chairmanship of the Rules Committee, leaving an opening on Natural Resources. Rep. Edward Markey (MA) will remain the ranking member. Other membership changes on the committee make it unclear who would take Hastings place.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Sen. Jim Inhofe’s (OK) term as the ranking member of the EPW committee has expired, and the position is likely to be filled by Sen. David Vitter (LA). The chair will continue to be Sen. Barbara Boxer (CA).
Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee
Chairwoman Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) and ranking member Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) are expected to remain in their positions on this committee. However, there will be two open member spots for Democrats and one for Republicans. Incoming North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp has already expressed her desire to be on the committee.
House Agriculture Committee
Chairman Rep. Frank Lucas (OK) and ranking member Rep. Collin Peterson (MN) are expected to stay in their positions as well. The overall membership may have up to eight openings due to lost races and committee member retirements.
Senate Appropriations Committee
Sen. Daniel Inouye (HI) will remain the chairman, but Sen. Thad Cochran (MS) has reached his term limit as ranking Republican and will likely be replaced by Sen. Richard Shelby (AL).
House Appropriations Committee
Chairman Harold Rogers (KY) will stay, but there is no front-runner to replace retiring Rep. Norm Dicks (WA) as the ranking member.
We will continue to work with the Senate and House of Representatives to educate members, particularly these key decision makers, about sportsmen and conservation issues important to Ducks Unlimited.