With the recent start of the 116th Congress, House and Senate leaders have announced the memberships of their committees.

Notable is the absence of Rep. Frank Lucas, R-OK, on the House Agriculture Committee. Lucas has served on the committee since his first election in 1994.  Lucas served as committee chair during the 2014 farm bill debate.

In an interview with the Radio Oklahoma Network, Lucas said that for the next few years he is obliged to help his party in this way to facilitate certain accommodations for his colleagues. However, Lucas assured the constituents of the 3rd District that his focus on their interests has not been lost, but will continue as he steps into his new position as ranking member on the Science, Space and Technology Committee—promising to serve agriculture in other capacities under the scope of this new assignment's oversight.

Lucas will retain his seniority during his departure from the House Agriculture Committee, which Lucas said would be reinstated once the opportunity to return presents itself. In the meantime, this leaves House Aggies without a representative from Oklahoma for the first time in recent memory.

Meanwhile, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-KS, will be given his final opportunity to serve as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, as he has announced he will not stand for re-election in 2020.

“I am honored to be chosen to lead the Agriculture Committee for another two years,” Roberts said in a statement. “We just succeeded in passing the bipartisan, bicameral 2018 farm bill, and I look forward to overseeing the Agriculture Department’s implementation.” 

“I’m pleased that Sen. (Debbie) Stabenow will also continue her important role in the Agriculture Committee as ranking member. Working with Sen. Stabenow on past farm bills and various legislation in between, we have proven that we are the least partisan committee, reaching across the aisle where we can to deliver results for rural America.” 

Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee include:

Mitch McConnell, Kentucky; John Boozman, Arkansas; John Hoeven, North Dakota; Joni Ernst, Iowa; Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi; Mike Braun, Indiana; David Perdue, Georgia; Chuck Grassley, Iowa; John Thune, South Dakota; and Deb Fischer, Nebraska.

“I welcome Sen. Mike Braun from Indiana to the Agriculture Committee,” Roberts said. “I know he is guided by the best interests of his rural constituency and will be a valuable member of the committee.”

Democratic members are Ranking Member Stabenow, Michigan; Patrick Leahy, Vermont; Sherrod Brown, Ohio; Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota; Michael Bennet, Colorado; Kristen Gillibrand, New York; Bob Casey, Pennsylvania; Tina Smith, Minnesota; and Dick Durbin, Illinois.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-MN, named his party’s 26 members, who include 12 newcomers, 10 of whom are freshmen.

“This is a strong roster for the Ag Committee and I’m looking forward to tackling the challenges that our farmers and ranchers, rural communities and working families face,” Peterson said. “We have a good cross-section of the diversity of crops grown in this country and the regions that grow them, as well as great representation of the variety of issues of jurisdiction on the committee.”

Democratic members of the House Agriculture Committee include; David Scott, Georgia; Jim Costa, California; Marcia Fudge, Ohio; Jim McGovern, Massachusetts; Filemon Vela, Texas; Stacey Plaskett, U.S. Virgin Islands; Alma Adams, North Carolina; Abigail Spanberger, Virginia; Jahana Hayes, Connecticut; Antonio Delgado, New York; T.J. Cox, California; Angie Craig, Minnesota; Anthony Brindisi, New York; Jeff Van Drew, New Jersey; Josh Harder, California; Kim Schrier, Washington; Chellie Pingree, Maine; Cheri Bustos, Illinois; Sean Patrick Maloney, New York; Salud Carbajal, California; Al Lawson, Jr., Florida; Tom O’Halleran, Arizona; Jimmy Panetta, California; Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona; and Cindy Axne, Iowa.

The 21-member Republican minority is largely staying the same, except for the addition of the three new members and departure of five. Besides, Lucas, Jodey Arrington of Texas; Mike Rogers of Alabama, and Bob Gibbs of Ohio are departing from the committee. Steve King of Iowa was stripped of his committee assignments by House leadership after he made comments about race and white supremacy to The New York Times.

In a release, Conaway said, “After successful completion of the 2018 farm bill, I’m pleased to have a great group of new and returning members on the Agriculture Committee who will continue the work of restoring prosperity to our nation’s farmers and ranchers and all of rural America.

“We have a great deal of work to do, including implementing and protecting the new farm bill, continuing to press for a rollback of harmful regulations that hurt our farmers and ranchers, and leveling the global playing field to create more market access for U.S. agriculture products.”

New House Agriculture Republicans are Dusty Johnson, South Dakota; Jim Baird, Indiana; and Jim Hagedorn, Minnesota.

Besides Conaway, House Republicans include Glenn Thompson, Pennsylvania; Austin Scott, Georgia; Rick Crawford, Arkansas; Scott DesJarlais, Tennessee; Vicky Hartzler, Missouri; Doug LaMalfa, California; Rodney Davis, Illinois; Ted Yoho, Florida; Rick Allen, Georgia; Mike Bost, Illinois; David Rouzer, North Carolina; Ralph Abraham, Louisiana; Trent Kelly, Mississippi; James Comer, Kentucky; Roger Marshall, Kansas; Don Bacon, Nebraska; Neal Dunn, Florida; Dusty Johnson, South Dakota; Jim Baird, Indiana; and Jim Hagedorn, Minnesota.

Larry Dreiling can be reached at 785-628-1117 or ldreiling@hpj.com.

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