Voters helped Democrats widen their margins in both the House and Senate on Tuesday, though the net effects might be more dramatic in one chamber over the other.
Richard Pollack, executive vice president at the American Hospital Association, said that while there will be a host of new House members in Congress, the key healthcare committee leaders will stay the same. In the House, that means John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) on the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and Pete Stark (D-Calif.) on Ways and Means.
The partys top leaders also stay intact, Pollack noted, though Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), who sits under Stark on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, is reported to be up for White House chief of staff.
The key committee chairs are all the same, Pollack said. The same cant be said for many Republicans. On the Ways and Means Committee alone, nearly half of the Republicanseight out of 17are leaving Congress, whether on their own terms or the voters. Of those, three of them served on the Health Subcommittee.
The Senate, however, is trickier to figure. Depending on how a couple of still-undecided races swing in the coming days, Democrats could inch closer to the 60-vote threshold.
Pollack said that its too early to tell what impact the margins will have on Obamas healthcare agenda. He faces a big inbox when he takes office, he said, predicting that the new president will have to deal first with the sagging economy and other pressing issues here and abroad. But, he adds, Obama clearly has a mandate to govern. -- by Matthew DoBias