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Advocacy Update - November 15, 2010
The mid-term elections will create change in the Nation's capital in the 112th Congress. What do the election results mean for the myeloma community?

Analysis of 2010 Mid-Term Elections
The mid-term elections will create change in the Nation's capital in the 112th Congress. Below is a brief analysis of what the election results will mean for the myeloma community.  Of course, how this will all settle out will evolve over the coming weeks as some congressional races are not even decided yet. Below is a quick first look at what the changes mean.

Republicans needed a net gain of 39 seats to reach the 218 seat majority for control of the House. With 7 House races to be finalized at the time of writing this article, the Republicans picked up more than 60 seats to bring their majority to 239. The House Democrats have 189 seats. Current Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to become Speaker with current Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) likely to become Majority Leader. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced her intention to run for Minority Leader in the 112th Congress. Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is expected to become Minority Whip.

With Republicans regaining control of the House, look for them to take steps to try to roll back portions of health care reform and other Democratic agenda items. But without control of the Senate, House Republicans will need Democrats there to vote with them to get bills passed. Additionally, they will need the signature of President Obama who opposes at least parts of that agenda.

Republicans made gains in the Senate but came up short of the 10 seats they needed to win control. With one seat still to be determined, the seat count in the Senate is 53 Democrats to 46 Republicans. Important Senate results include Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fending off a challenge from a Tea Party candidate while Senator-Elect Rand Paul (R-KY) pulls off an upset for the Tea Party in Kentucky. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) appears to be winning a write-in campaign to keep her seat though it will be weeks before all of the write-in ballots are counted. If victorious, she would be the first Senator elected by write-in vote in more than half a century.

Health Committee Membership
With respect to the Appropriations Committees, both the House and the Senate will need to appoint several new members due to retirements and election losses in the coming weeks.  Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will remain as Chairman of the relevant Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee. In the House, both LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) and Ranking Member Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) are retiring at the end of this session. Both Republicans and Democrats will likely figure out full Committee membership seniority before finalizing the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee leadership posts.

With respect to authorizing committees with jurisdiction over health legislation, four Republicans are expected to vie for the chairmanship of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Current Ranking Member Joe L. Barton (R-TX) has made it clear that he wants to take back the gavel he wielded when Republicans last controlled the House—in spite of the caucus rule on Committee leadership term limits. Other potential contenders for the gavel are Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI), John Shimkus (R-IL), and Cliff Stearns (R-FL).

Representative Dave Camp (R-MI) will take the gavel as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Current Chairman Sander M. Levin (D-MI) might face a challenge for the Ranking Member spot from Richard Neal (D-MA).

In the Senate, Senator Harkin will remain as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA), who has a close working relationship with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and traded the gavel with him multiple times over the past decade, will step aside as Ranking Member because of term limits imposed by Senate Republicans. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will take over as Chairman of the Finance Committee in the 112th Congress.

Lame-Duck Session Begins November 15th
Congress will return on November 15th for a lame-duck session, probably lasting just two or three weeks. A “lame-duck session” is one that occurs after an election but before the new Congress is sworn in. The election results make it much less likely that the lame-duck session will address much substantive legislation—even though funding for government agencies, expiring tax cuts, the Medicare physician fee fix, and other important issues are hanging in limbo.  Most of these issues will be dealt with next year. Our sources on Capitol Hill have indicated that the delay of final Congressional decisions on fiscal year (FY) 2011 funding levels will result in another short term continuing resolution (CR) through early next year with Republicans then pushing a year-long CR at FY 2010 levels.

For more information about the legislation listed above or any other IMF advocacy initiative, contact IMF’s Director of Government Relations, Christine Murphy at cmurphy@myeloma.org or 703-738-1498.

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