A Congress divided

Source: By KELSEY TAMBORRINO, Politico • Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2018

As predicted, Democrats managed to win control of the House, while Republicans expanded their Senate majority. A divided Congress means Democrats will quickly have to strike the balance between pushing their base’s desire to counter President Donald Trump and their electoral mandate to actually get things done. “Once their election high wears off, Democrats will have to find policy victories where they can get them — while also avoiding two years of pure obstruction that could risk alienating swing voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election,” POLITICO’s Megan Cassella, Nancy Cook and Gabby Orr report. Read more.

WHO’S RUNNING THINGS? With Democrats preparing to run the House, here’s how the committee leadership shuffle is expected to work out.

— Energy and Commerce Committee: New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallonewill grab the gavel of this panel with broad EPA, DOE, FERC and other energy-related jurisdiction. Current Chairman Greg Walden is expected to slot into ranking member.

— Natural Resources Committee: Arizona Democrat Raúl Grijalva will run this panel with oversight of Interior (where Secretary Ryan Zinke’s scandals will immediately go under the microscope), while Utah Republican Rob Bishopbecomes ranking member in what’s expected to be his final term in Congress.

— Oversight Committee: Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings will lead the powerful panel tasked with oversight of vast swaths of the Trump administration. It’s not yet clear who his Republican counterpart will be with current Chairman Trey Gowdy retiring from Congress.

— Science Committee: It’ll be Texas Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson with the gavel, though her Republican counterpart isn’t yet set. Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas appears to have the inside track for the spot if he wants it, though he’s also interested in becoming the top Republican on the Financial Services Committee. Johnson promised she would “address the challenge of climate change, starting with acknowledging it is real, seeking to understand what climate science is telling us, and working to understand the ways we can mitigate it.”

ROLODEX CHEAT SHEET: The lawmakers have the gavels, but here are top staffers they’ll be leaning on:

— E&C Committee: Jeff Carroll, staff director. Democratic leadership on the committee promises to press the Trump administration on issues like climate change. Republicans and Democrats alike also speak highly of Rick Kessler, now a senior adviser on the committee and a one-time chief of staff for former E&C impresario Rep. John Dingell.

— Oversight Committee: Dave Rapallo, staff director. Armed with subpoena power, the committee will be leading the biggest investigations into the Trump administration, and Rapallo is a veteran of the Henry Waxman-led Oversight Committee.

 Natural Resources Committee: With more than two decades of experience on the House Natural Resources Committee, David Watkins will bring a wealth of policy and institutional knowledge as the panel conducts oversight of Zinke’s controversies and potential conflicts of interest between the Trump administration and its “energy dominance” agenda.

— Science Committee: Dick Obermann, the new chief of staff for the committee, is a literal rocket scientist, holding a doctorate in aerospace and mechanical science from Princeton. Obermann has been with the committee since 1990, starting as a science adviser to the subcommittee on space.