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The 114th Congress met for the first time Tuesday, January 6, 2015 beginning with the election of a Speaker of the House. As expected, Representative John Boehner was elected to his third term in this post as the highest Congressman in the House of Representatives. He then swore in the Congressmen and Congressmen-elect who were elected this term. Representative Kevin McCarthy was selected as Majority Leader again, as was Representative Steve Scalise as Majority Whip. Democrats selected Representative Nancy Pelosi as Minority Leader with Representative Steny Hoyer as the Minority Whip.
Congress got right to work with both parties announcing their party initiatives and agendas, many of which have already been proposed as legislation. One of the first bills voted on was the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act.
Terrorism Risk Insurance Act Reauthorized
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House of Representatives and Senate passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) with near-unanimous votes in both chambers. This piece of legislation expired on December 31, 2014 as one of the several bills that came close to a deal at the end in the 113th Congress, but could not be agreed to. One major change included in the reauthorization was a change of the minimum amount when the federal government would commit funding, from $100 million to $200 million. The bill, which is supported by President Obama, is expected to be signed into law.
Committee Assignments Expected in Near Future
With the leadership posts finalized on the first day of the 114th Congress, it is expected that the House of Representatives' final official committee assignments could be completed soon. The House Democratic Steering Committee has been deliberating this week on the posts that have not yet been filled. Further updates will be provided as the final roster information is complete and made public.
Senator Barbara Boxer Will Not Run for Reelection
Senator Barbara Boxer of California, past Chairwoman and current Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, announced that she will not seek a fifth term next election cycle. She will continue to serve the remainder of the 114th Congress, leaving an open seat for California in the 2016 election. As Chairwoman of the committee, she was an author of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, or MAP-21. This legislation authorized $105 billion over two years for surface transportation projects throughout the country. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that Map-21 will reduce the federal budget deficit from 2012-2022 by $16.3 billion.