There is no need to pay attention to this article -- unless your company or association has any issues related to energy; health care; environment; telecommunications; technology; e-commerce; advertising, consumer product safety; food, drug and cosmetic safety; the Department of Health and Human Services (including the Food and Drug Administration); the Department of Commerce; the Department of Energy; the Federal Trade Commission; the Federal Communications Commission; the Environmental Protection Agency; or the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

If your company or association does have an interest in any of the above, then you will likely be interested in the changes in leadership and agenda at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over all of the above. In fact, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has the broadest jurisdiction of any authorizing committee in the House.

With the Republican takeover in the House, Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) was selected to become the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the 112th Congress. Rep. Upton has stated that his "vision for the Energy and Commerce Committee is a conservative agenda that focuses on cutting spending, removing regulatory burden, restoring freedom, keeping government accountable through rigorous oversight, and jobs." Upon his selection to head the Committee, Chairman Upton stated that "the [Obama] administration's . . . unfettered, two-year assault on the health, energy, and telecommunications sectors is now over."

Since the curtain on the 112th Congress went up, Chairman Upton has announced his early agenda, much of which is at the center of the national political stage.

Perhaps most prominently, Chairman Upton has announced his intention to move legislation to "repeal and replace" last year's health care law, known colloquially as "Obamacare." In conjunction with this, we expect a host of early hearings designed to highlight what Republicans believe to be the flaws within the new law and alternative approaches. In terms of environmental issues, we anticipate significant oversight of the EPA and significant opposition to new EPA regulations, such as those related to greenhouse gas pollution standards, that the Republican majority view as the Obama Administration’s attempt "to regulate what they have been unable to legislate" by way of failed "cap and trade" legislation in the previous congress.

Also, we expect early hearings in the Committee on the FCC's recently-adopted "network neutrality" regulations, which Republican leaders oppose, and Committee consideration of a resolution of disapproval of net neutrality, a parliamentary tool by which Congress can reject a federal regulation by passage of a joint-resolution. All in all, in addition to the immediate priorities mentioned above, we expect additional and significant oversight of the agencies within the Committee's jurisdiction and review of regulations and laws passed during the last couple of congresses under Democratic control.

No doubt, much of the Committee’s agenda will be carried out at the Subcommittee level, and the following are the new Subcommittee chairmen:

  • Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade Subcommittee: Rep. Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA)
  • Communications and Technology Subcommittee: Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR)
  • Energy and Power Subcommittee: Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY)
  • Environment and Economy Subcommittee: Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL)
  • Health Subcommittee: Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA)
  • Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee: Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL)