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.)