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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

CPA Profession Wins With New Members; Important Changes to Committees

 

NOVEMBER 3, 2010

Editor’s note: This report was compiled by the AICPA Congressional and Political Affairs Team

 

All five CPAs won their re-election bids and three additional CPAs were added to the House in Tuesday’s congressional elections. Republican Reps. John Campbell of California, Michael Conaway of Texas and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas and Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Brad Sherman of California will each return for new terms. Additionally, Steven Palazzo, a Mississippi Republican, defeated 11-term Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor in that state’s 4th District. Jim Renacci, an Ohio Republican, defeated freshman Democratic Rep. John Boccieri in that state’s 16th District. And Bill Flores, a Republican, defeated veteran Democratic Rep. Chet Edwards in Texas' 17th District. 

 

Importantly, because the House will be controlled by Republicans, the Financial Services Committee is likely be led by Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama, the current ranking Republican member. If the committee ratios remain the same, at least 46% of the committee will be new Republican members. 

 

Current Chairman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, was re-elected and will likely assume the ranking member slot. Also of note, Rep. Scott Garrett, a New Jersey Republican, will most likely be the Capital Markets Subcommittee chairman. Lastly, because the current Democratic chairman of the Capital Markets Subcommittee, Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, lost his re-election, that subcommittee will have a new ranking member on the Democratic side.

 

Although the Senate remains in Democratic hands, with the retirement of Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, it is expected that Sen. Tim Johnson of South Dakota, the next highest ranking Democrat, will be selected for that post. Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, was easily re-elected and will be returning as the ranking member. There will also be several new Democratic and Republican members on the committee, depending on committee ratios.  

 

The House Ways and Means Committee will see a number of changes resulting from the shift to Republican control. Rep. Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, will presumably lead the panel, but a contested race between Democratic Reps. Sander Levin of Michigan and Richard Neal of Massachusetts for the ranking Democratic member slot is probable. Because the Ways and Means Committee has grown in size in recent years, a key question is whether the speaker-elect will decide to reduce the number of seats rather than populating the empty seats, creating a smaller, more manageable committee.

 

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to keep Sen. Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, who was not up for re-election, as chairman. The current ranking member, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, having easily won re-election, is expected to become the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee. Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah is expected to replace him as the ranking member on Finance. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, easily won his re-election bid. Importantly, Baucus and Grassley are champions of the accounting profession’s effort to ban tax strategy patents, and their positions on Finance and Judiciary will remain very helpful to moving that legislation forward.

 

The House Judiciary Committee will presumably be chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, a champion for the profession’s positions on tax strategy patents and liability. On the Democratic side, current Chairman John Conyers of Michigan is likely to become ranking member unless he is challenged by a more aggressive but less senior member. 

 

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