Ones to Watch: Key Players on Capitol Hill in 2013

Jan 29, 2013

Here’s a glimpse at a few key players in the 113th Congress who will have a role in determining the fate of such issues as energy development, comprehensive tax reform, and financial regulation.

Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Chairman, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Wyden is taking over for retiring Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and becomes the first Senate energy chairman from somewhere other than Alaska, New Mexico or Louisiana—all oil- and gas-producing states—since 1987.

Wyden has hinted that he’ll focus on fostering the booming natural gas industry and has pushed to rein in Environmental Protection Agency regulations that threaten to hamper the forest and paper industry. However, he’s expressed concerns that large-scale liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports would raise domestic gas prices and hurt the U.S. economy and says that the government should impose a “time-out” on approving LNG exports until their effects can be better gauged.

Cumulative U.S. Chamber rating: 40%

Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Ranking Member, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Murkowski is a proponent of a national energy policy that produces as much domestic energy—of all types—as safely as possible. 

Murkowski introduced legislation to tap the estimated 10.4 billion barrels of oil and 8.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); encourage development of the energy resources found on America’s outer continental shelf by expanding federal revenue sharing with coastal states; promote construction of a natural gas pipeline connecting Alaska’s North Slope with Lower 48 energy markets; and advance the research and development of renewable energy.

In 2005, she co-sponsored legislation that aimed to provide $200 million a year in aid for projects to utilize the nation's coal resources, with the aid especially intended to help construct clean-coal gasification combined cycle power plants. In 2009, she supported legislation to provide assistance for the development of underground coal gasification technology.

Cumulative U.S. Chamber rating: 91%

Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)
Chairman, House Ways and Means Committee

Camp has served on the Ways and Means committee, which has jurisdiction over taxes, the management of the public debt, tariff and trade laws, and the Social Security and Medicare systems, since the 103rd Congress (1993—1994). As a junior member of the committee in 1996, Camp made his mark by playing a pivotal role in the passage of historic welfare reform legislation, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996.

In 2011, Speaker Boehner chose Camp to serve on the 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction. Camp was also a key architect of House Republicans’ January 2011 repeal efforts of the health care law, and he led the successful repeal of the health care law’s onerous 1099 tax reporting requirement. 

As chairman, Camp’s focus is on comprehensive reform of the tax code—addressing both the corporate and individual side. He has vowed to advance legislation to lower rates and broaden the tax base by limiting deductions and credits.

Cumulative U.S. Chamber rating: 96%

Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee

Baucus has chaired the panel that deals with tax policy since 2007 and is up for reelection in 2014. As a result, he’s called for an expedited process to rewrite the tax code in 2013.

In 2010, Baucus was a member of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction committee but voted against the proposal produced by its chairmen. He was one of the Democratic negotiators through the months of talks with congressional Republicans that led to the debt ceiling-deal, and he served on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

During the height of the fiscal cliff negotiations, Baucus laid out his vision for tax reform in a statement to The Wall Street Journal: “I am committed to accomplishing comprehensive tax reform and have begun to lay the groundwork for a plan that includes individual as well as corporate reform. We have a major opportunity here to rebuild the tax code for the 21st century. My hope is that an expedited process for tax reform is put in place by year-end legislation and that we lock in more revenue from high-income households now as part of a deficit-reduction deal.”

Cumulative U.S. Chamber rating: 45%

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Member, Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee

The freshman senator and Harvard professor beat incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown in one of the most expensive and contentious races of 2012.

Warren is an architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency created as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. Opposition from Wall Street and Republicans in Congress helped keep Warren from being named the head of that agency in 2011. 

Warren’s role on the banking committee will give her greater influence over laws and regulations affecting the financial industry. A noted consumer advocate, Warren had harsh words for Wall Street throughout her campaign, and she is expected to support tougher controls on the industry.

Cumulative U.S. Chamber rating: NA

Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Member, Senate Agriculture and Armed Service committees

Donnelly, one of the more pro-business Democrats elected to the Senate in recent years, practiced law and ran a small business before being elected to the House in 2006, where he served three terms and sat on the House Veterans' Affairs and Financial Services committees. Donnelly was a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which promotes a moderate agenda focused on fiscal discipline and strong national security. 

In November, Donnelly beat Republican Richard Mourdock for the seat that U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar held for the last 36 years.

Donnelly calls his agenda one of moderation and common sense, dedicated to creating and preserving jobs and reducing the debt and deficit. He has a conservative-leaning voting record on taxes, and in a speech at the 2012 Indiana Democratic Convention, he said he would support a one-year extension of all Bush-era tax cuts.

Cumulative U.S. Chamber rating: 61%

To see the Chamber’s rating for every member of Congress, visit www.uschamber.com/howtheyvoted

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