The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Rosters Finalized for the 117th Congress’ Subcommittees With Jurisdiction Over Labor Issues

The U.S. Congress convened on January 3, 2021. Democrats maintained their majority in the House of Representatives albeit with a reduced margin due to Republican pickups in House races during the 2020 elections. Across the Hill, Republicans held the majority in the Senate for a brief time before three new Democratic senators were sworn in on January 20, 2021.[1] While this created a 50-50 split in the upper chamber, Vice President Kamala Harris will serve as the tie-breaking vote, thereby giving the Democrats control of the Senate. House and Senate committees have since announced their rosters and subcommittee assignments for the 117th Congress.

Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) will chair the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee while Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) will serve as ranking member. Murray has been a member of the HELP Committee since the 105th Congress and is also the chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittee on the Senate Appropriations Committee — making her intimately involved in legislative activity authorizing labor and education programs, as well as in the appropriation process providing funding to implement them. Burr assumes the top Republican spot on the committee after the former chair, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), retired last year. The Senate HELP Committee announced the following subcommittees:

  • The Subcommittee on Children and Families considers issues pertaining to children, youth and families, such as Head Start; childcare and child support; the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and women and children’s healthcare.
    • Chair: Senator Robert Casey (PA). Casey was elected to the United States Senate in 2006.
    • Ranking Member: Senator Bill Cassidy (LA). Cassidy was elected to the United States Senate in 2014.
  • The Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety considers an array of employment issues, including workforce education and training, worker health and safety, wage and hour laws, and workplace flexibility.
    • Chair: Senator John Hickenlooper (CO). Hickenlooper was elected to the United States Senate in 2020.
    • Ranking Member: Senator Mike Braun (IN). Braun was elected to the United States Senate in 2018.
  • The Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security considers issues pertaining to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), the Health Resources and Services Act, substance abuse and mental health, and other issues related to healthcare.
    • Chair: Senator Bernie Sanders (VT). Sanders was elected to the United States Senate in 2007.
    • Ranking Member: Senator Susan Collins (ME). Collins was elected to the United States Senate in 1996.

Across the Hill, Democrat Representative Bobby Scott (VA-3) remains the chair of the House Education and Labor Committee and Republican Representative Virginia Foxx (NC-5) will once again serve as ranking member. The Education and Labor Committee also announced the following subcommittees:

  • The Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee considers education issues from early learning through the high school level. As such, the subcommittee has jurisdiction over programs related to the Head Start Act and the Child Care and Development Block Grant Act, as well as issues pertaining to special education, educational equity, and homeless and migrant education.
    • Chair: Representative Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands). Sablan is serving his seventh term in the House of Representatives.
    • Ranking Member: Representative Burgess Owens (UT-4). Owens is a freshmen member of the House of Representatives.
  • The Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee considers education and workforce development issues beyond the high school level and has jurisdiction over the Higher Education Act, postsecondary student assistance and employment services, campus safety and climate, adult education, apprenticeship programs, and workforce development issues, including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
    • Chair: Representative Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24). Wilson is serving her sixth term in the House of Representatives.
    • Ranking Member: Representative Gregory Murphy (NC-3). Murphy is a freshman member of the House of Representatives.
  • The Workforce Protections Subcommittee considers matters specific to wages and hours of working and has jurisdiction over issues germane to the Dave-Bacon Act, the Walsh-Healey Act, the Service Contract Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. The subcommittee also has oversight of issues pertaining to worker’s compensation, worker safety and health, and trade and immigration issues to the extent they impact employers and workers.
    • Chair: Representative Alma Adams (NC-12). Adams is serving her fifth term in the House of Representatives.
    • Ranking Member: Representative Fred Keller (PA-12). Keller is serving his second term in the House of Representatives.
  • The Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee considers matters pertaining to relationships between employers and employees and has jurisdiction over issues germane to the National Labor Relations Act, the Labor-Management Relations Act, and the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. The subcommittee also has jurisdiction over employment-related health and retirement security, including pension, health, and other employee benefits.  This includes issues arising under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
    • Chair: Representative Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11). DeSaulnier is serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives.
    • Ranking Member: Representative Rick Allen (GA-12). Allen is serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives.
  • The Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services considers matters specific to equal employment opportunities and civil rights, welfare reform programs, school lunch and child nutrition programs, and programs for the elderly, including those that arise under the Older Americans Act. The subcommittee also considers issues impacting at-risk youth, such as programs under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.
    • Chair: Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1). Bonamici is serving her sixth term in the House of Representatives.
    • Ranking Member: Representative Russ Fulcher (ID-1). Fulcher is serving his second term in the House of Representatives.

[1] Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock won their run-off elections in Georgia in early January and California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Alex Padilla to fill Vice President Kamala Harris’ vacant Senate seat.

 

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