Senate leaders announce committee leadership changes and make procedural changes for the 112th Congress

The following changes were announced for committees that are important for disability policy:

  • Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) will take over as the chair of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. This committee oversees Housing and Urban Development (HUD) section 8 and section 811 supportive housing for persons with disabilities programs in addition to mass transit.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is the new Ranking Member on Budget. This committee is responsible for drafting Congress’ annual budget plan and monitoring action on the budget for the federal government.
  • Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT) is the new Ranking Member on Finance. This committee oversees Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income.Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) is the new Ranking Member on Judiciary.  This committee oversees civil rights issues.

The Senate also approved some procedural changes intended to make the chamber function better.  They include:

  • limiting the use of secret “holds” which are used to anonymously block legislation.
  • reducing the number of political appointments requiring Senate confirmation.
  • preventing the reading of legislation if the text has been available for 72 hours, a delaying tactic sometimes used slow action in the Senate.
  • defeating several resolutions to changes the filibuster rules.  (A filibuster is when extended debate or other delay tactics are used by Senators to prevent a vote on a bill.  Currently 60 votes are needed to stop a filibuster.)
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