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Post-’24 Committee Leadership Will Change

Post-’24 Committee Leadership Will Change

As Congressional members continue to announce retirements and election match-ups become more clear, much speculation has been put into how committee leadership will change following the 2024 elections. The process to determine chairs and ranking members differs across the two bodies and the two parties but relies generally on the same structure.

  • Senate: Committee assignments are revisited every two years, following the general election. The sizes and ratios of the committees are dependent on the make-up of the full Senate. Before any assignments are made, Senate party leadership work together to determine the size of the standing committees. Generally this is a smooth process which is complete before January of the following year, however there can be complicating factors. Following the 2020 general election, the Senate stood at 50-50. Inter-party negotiations took two months to complete as leadership worked out a power-sharing agreement. Once the sizes and ratios of the standing committees are completed, each party decides their own committee assignments. Senate Democrat committee chairs or ranking member assignments are based on recommendations made by the Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee, which Senate Republicans form what is called a Committee on Committees. Both parties consider a variety of factors when making committee assignments, including seniority, policy interests, and the constituents represented. Senate Republicans have term-limits for Chair and Ranking Member positions. Since 1997, Senate Republicans can only serve for six years as Chair or Ranking Member. This encourages that leadership assignments are not only as a result of seniority. Senate Democrats do not have term limits for their committee leadership. There are overarching Senate rules which govern assignments, as well. Senate rules, for instance, divide the standing and other Senate committees into three groups, the so-called “A” “B” and “C” categories. Senators must serve on two “A” committees and may serve on one “B” committee, and any number of “C” committees. Exceptions to these restrictions are sometimes approved by the Senate. Also, party leaders cannot serve as leaders of a committee or subcommittee. Approval of these assignments come from both the relevant conference and then the whole Senate.
  • House: In general, the House follows a similar three-step process. First, nomination by the relevant steering committees, approval by the party caucus, and then approval by the full House of Representatives. Since every member is up for reelection every two years, committee composition can change on the House side more frequently. Just like their Senate counterparts, House Republicans have six-year term limits for committee leadership and House Democrats do not. There have been recent efforts from some House Democrats to adopt term limits, however it has always been met with strong opposition within the party. Overall House rules limit members service to no more than two standing committees and no more than four subcommittees.

Committee leadership is important to track, as the Chair and Ranking Members often work together to decide what legislation will go through the committee process and shape much of the legislation with negotiations behind the scenes. AFSA worked closely with retiring House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) on many issues that AFSA members are interested in and affected by. Currently, Reps. French Hill (R-AR), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), and Andy Barr (R-KY) have indicated they would be interested in the top spot on the committee.

February 1st, 2024 by

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