New Year, New Congress, New Leadership

Group shot of 116th Congress Freshman Class standing on the Capitol steps
116th Congress "Freshman Class" at their new workplace
Jan 03, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC -- Today at noon marked the start of the 116th Congress as Members of the House and Senate were sworn-in on the floor of their respective chambers by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Vice President Mike Pence.  Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, the House formally elected Pelosi to serve as the new Speaker of the House.

The 116th Congress includes 100 new members – 91 new members of the House and nine new members of the Senate.  New members of Congress representing rice states/districts include Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO); Rep. Josh Harder (D-CA-10); Rep. TJ Cox (D-CA-21); Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02); and Rep. Michael Guest (R-MS-03).  There are an additional ten members who won special elections during the 115th Congress, and were re-elected during the November elections, including Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) who was elected to finish the term of retired Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX), who was re-elected in November after finishing the term of former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX).

In the House, Democrats now hold 235 seats, while the Republicans hold 199 seats.  One House race, North Carolina’s ninth district, remains outstanding.  In the Senate, the Republicans gained three seats, and now hold a 53 to 47 majority.

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate are expected to announce updated Committee rosters.  It already has been announced that Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN) will serve as the chair of the House Agriculture Committee and Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) will serve as the Ranking Member.  In the Senate, it is expected that there will not be any leadership changes atop the Senate Agriculture Committee, and that Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) will continue as Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively.

“USA Rice looks forward to meeting the new members of the 116th Congress and welcoming back our friends who were re-elected in November,” said Charley Mathews, Jr., California rice farmer and USA Rice Chairman.  “There is a lot of work to be done over the next two years, and USA Rice looks forward to educating elected officials on our issues and advocating for the priorities of the U.S. rice industry to ensure our members’ voices and concerns are heard and heeded.”

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