The midterm elections are over and many wonder how they will impact the disability community. As of this writing, Republicans gained at least 7 seats in the Senate, giving them control of the chamber. They also gained at least 10 seats in the House, further strengthening their majority. A few states still have elections results pending, and Republican gains could increase in both houses.
Majority control in Congress has a significant impact on the legislative agenda. Committee chairpersons (from the majority party) determine a committee’s priorities based on their interests, sense of national needs, and political judgment. The two most important Senate committees for the disability community are the Finance Committee and Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee. The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over Social Security, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, and Medicare, among other issues. HELP has jurisdiction over other federal programs related to health, education, and employment.
According to press report, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) are expected to take over the HELP and Finance Committees, respectively. However chairmanships won’t be finalized until early 2015.
The election results provide an opportunity to enlist new supporters in Congress who can be made aware of the interest of people with I/DD and what is required for meaningful, independent living. See new Members at: http://www.nationaljournal.com/almanac/114th-congress-new-members