Let The Music Play

Forecasting Committee Leadership in the 118th Congress

The beginning of another Congress almost always includes a mesmerizing show of musical chairs of those leading committees for both parties.  In the case for the upcoming 118th Congressional session, it is a game already worth watching. The music has begun and players are now walking around the perimeter of the circle evaluating options, assessing seniority and shoring up support from party leaders and the steering groups. The music will stop after the November 8 election, and the players will scramble for the coveted seats up until the new Congress convenes in early January 2023.

The expected shifts come from the trifecta of retirements, runs for higher offices, and primary losses. Seven Senate committee leaders are retiring and seven House leaders will not return, setting up major movement within committees and, as a result, the policy priorities of Capitol Hill. 

The other, more obvious unknown is whether Republicans will enjoy the comfortable perch of Committee Chairmanship or remain in the less cushy position of Ranking Member. Waves of polling indicate Republicans could regain control of one or both chambers and continue the historical trend of a president’s party losing big in the midterms. Two mainstay polls show the headwinds Democrats face going into the election – the “Right Track/Wrong Track” poll and President Joe Biden’s approval rating. Both have been consistently bad news for Democrats with nearly 70% of Americans currently believing we are on the “wrong track” and 56% of Americans disapproving of the president.

Below are all the possible chair configurations.  Time will tell who will be seated where and who will be left standing.

Shellie Purvis is a managing director at Cogent Strategies and keenly navigates Congress for clients with policy interests in energy, transportation, infrastructure, national security and international affairs. Shellie is a seasoned political strategist and has worked on several high-profile Republican political campaigns including the re-election of President George W. Bush, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s bid for president and two gubernatorial campaigns for former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour. For Shellie’s complete bio, click here.