Legislative Update

Legislative Update

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This month's Update includes an early preview of the key changes in Congress resulting from the mid-term elections of 2002. The 108th Congress will convene in January 2003.

Senate Judiciary Committee Outlook

No committee will be more affected by a change in Senate leadership than this sharply divided committee. Republicans will enjoy a 10-9 margin, with Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) taking back the chairman's gavel from Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt). Hatch is a very strong supporter of the bankruptcy bill, while Leahy signaled before the election that he was disinclined to restart the bankruptcy bill process if Congress failed to enact a bill in 2002. The chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts will likely be Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), another strong supporter of the bill. New members on the full committee might include new Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who served on the House Judiciary Committee. The senior member from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond, retired after the 107th Congress. Another candidate might be new Sens. James Talent (R-Mo.) or John Cornyn (R-Texas), the former Texas Attorney General.

House Judiciary Committee Outlook

The committee remains solidly Republican, with the majority party likely to improve slightly on the 21-16 GOP margin from the 107th Congress. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) will remain as chairman of the full committee. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) is likely to remain as the ranking member.

Four Republican members are no longer on the committee, including Rep. George W. Gekas (R-Pa.), who was defeated in November, and Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), who lost in a primary. Gekas was the lead sponsor of bankruptcy reform in the House, while Barr succeeded Gekas as chairman of the subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. Candidates to become chairman include Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) or Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.). There could be as many as five new Republican members of the full committee.

Journal Date: 
Sunday, December 1, 2002