2016 NCC Election Overview

The NCC prepared an updated, full summary of the Presidential election, Administration transition update and updated House and Senate leadership as well as key Committee leadership.

Published: March 3, 2017
Updated: December 30, 2016

2016 Election Overview
Prepared by the National Cotton Council
December, 2016

Presidential Election:

On November 8, 2016 Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States by taking advantage of the economic issues facing the country and targeting key demographic groups. The Trump team won this election the old-fashioned way: they defined themselves and their opponent and they got out their vote. At the end of the day, individuals going to the polls matters.  The suburbs of notable cities in swing states abandoned Clinton and rural voters turned out in high numbers and then voted for Trump at a 3-1 margin. This was able to push him over the top in several key states, some of which have not been won by a Republican Presidential candidate since the 1980’s, that ultimately gave him the Presidency. Had rural America not turned out in the numbers they did, or if he had only won this demographic on a 2-1 margin, the outcome would have been different.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and even if it may feel like it, Trump’s 306 electoral vote victory was not a blowout either. This is far better than Bush received in 2004 (286), but below Obama in 2012 (332), Obama in 2008 (365), Clinton in 1996 (379) and far below Bush in 1988 (426), Johnson in 1964 (486), Reagan in 1980 (489), Reagan in 1984 (525), and Nixon in 1972 (520). Again, it was a strong electoral win for Trump, but not a crushing defeat from a historical perspective.


President-Elect Trump has named Brian Klippenstein (Executive Director of Protect the Harvest) and Carrie Castille (former Associate Commissioner of the Louisiana Department of Agriculture) to the USDA Landing Team for the Presidential transition. Numerous individuals have been floated as possibilities for Secretary of Agriculture and several are expected to meet with the President-Elect the week of December 26, President-Elect Trump has announced his intention to nominate Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.  He has also announced that he plans to nominate Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) for the position of Attorney General – if his nomination is confirmed by the Senate, the Governor of Alabama will name an interim successor for Sen. Sessions seat until a special election is held. In addition, the President-Elect announced his intention to nominate Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) as Secretary of Interior, so special elections must occur to fill their seats once they have been confirmed by the Senate. In addition, economist Peter Navarro has been named the chair of the new White House National Trade Council.

115th Congress – The Senate:

The Congressional elections trended in much the same way as the Presidential election.  Republicans were defending 24 Senate seats compared to 10 held by Democrats, but Republicans only lost two seats (Ayotte (NH) and Kirk (IL)) resulting in a Republican majority of 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats, and 2 Independents who caucus with the Democrats. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) are the only other new members of the Senate from the Cotton Belt. Senators: Shelby (R-AL), McCain (R-AZ), Boozman (R-AR), Rubio (R-FL), Isakson (R-GA), Moran (R-KS), Blunt (R-MO), Burr (R-NC), Lankford (R-OK) and Scott (R-SC) were  re-elected to a new six-year term.

Senate Leadership 115th Congress:

Majority Leader                                             Mitch McConnell (KY)

Majority Whip                                                John Cornyn (TX)

Conference Chairman                                    John Thune (SD)

NRSC Chairman                                             Corey Gardner (CO)

Minority Leader                                             Chuck Schumer (NY)

Minority Whip                                               Dick Durbin (IL)

DSCC Chairman                                            Chris Van Hollen (MD)

Senate Key Committee Leadership*:

Agriculture Committee          Chairman:                  Pat Roberts (R-KS)

                                          Ranking Member:        Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Appropriations Committee    Chairman:                   Thad Cochran (R-MS)

                                          Ranking Member:        Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

Agriculture Appropriations    Chairman:                   Jerry Moran (R-KS)

 Subcommittee                    Ranking Member:        Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

Budget Committee               Chairman:                   Mike Enzi (R-WY)

                                          Ranking Member:        Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Environment & Public           Chairman:                   John Barrasso (R-WY)

Works Committee                Ranking Member:         Tom Carper (D-DE)

Finance Committee              Chairman:                   Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

                                          Ranking Member:        Ron Wyden (D-OR)

115th Congress – The House of Representatives:

In the House of Representatives, the Republicans retained their majority with 241 Republican Members and 194 Democratic Members, giving Republicans a 47 seat majority. There was a net shift of six seats from Republican control to Democrat control. New Cotton Belt Representatives:

Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-1)       Al Lawson (D-FL-5)              David Kustoff (R-TN-8)

Andy Biggs (R-AZ-5)             Drew Ferguson (R-GA-3)       Vincente Gonzalez (R-TX-15)

Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20)      Roger Marshall (R-KS-1)       Jodey Arrington (R-TX-19)

Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1)              Clay Higgins (R-LA-3)           Scott Taylor (R-VA-2)

Neal Dunn (R-FL-2)               Mike Johnson (R-LA-4)         Donald McEachin (D-VA-4)

John Rutherford (R-FL-4)       Ted Budd (R-NC-13)                    


House Leadership 115th Congress:

Speaker Of The House                                   Paul Ryan (WI)

Majority Leader                                             Kevin McCarthy (CA)

Majority Whip                                               Steve Scalise (LA)

Chief Deputy Whip                                        Patrick McHenry (NC)

Conference Chairman                                    Cathy McMorris Rodger (WA)

Conference Vice Chairman                             Doug Collins (GA)

NRCC Chairman                                            Steve Stivers (OH)

Conference Secretary                                    Jason Smith (MO)

Policy Committee Chairman                            Luke Messer (IN)

Minority Leader                                             Nancy Pelosi (CA)

Assistant Minority Leader                               Jim Clyburn (SC)

Minority Whip                                               Steny Hoyer (MD)

Caucus Chairman                                          Joe Crowley (NY)

DCCC Chairman                                            Ben Ray Lujan (NM)

Blue Dog Representative                                Filemon Vela (TX)


House Key Committee Leadership*:

Agriculture Committee          Chairman:                  Mike Conaway (R-TX)

                                          Ranking Member:        Collin Peterson (D-MN)              

Appropriations Committee    Chairman:                   Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)

                                          Ranking Member         Nita Lowey (D-NY)

Agriculture Appropriations    Chairman:                   Robert Aderholt (R-AL)

 Subcommittee                    Ranking Member:        TBD – possibly Sanford Bishop (D-GA)

Budget Committee               Chairman:                   TBD

                                          Ranking Member:        John Yarmuth (D-KY)

Energy & Commerce            Chairman:                   Greg Walden (R-OR)

Committee                          Ranking Member:         Frank Pallone (D-NJ)                   

Ways and Means Committee Chairman:                   Kevin Brady (R-TX)

                                          Ranking Member:        Richard Neal (D-MA)

Early Legislative Outlook:

After the new Members of Congress are sworn into office on January 3, 2017, NCC will immediately begin meeting with them and their staff to provide an introduction to the U.S. cotton industry and convey the industry’s views on key issues. Within the first few weeks of the new Congress, it is expected that leadership in the House and Senate will quickly move to roll back regulatory burdens from the previous Administration. Other major items that will receive early attention include repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, tax reform and an infrastructure package, not to mention finishing the FY17 appropriations process and beginning the FY18 appropriations. Also, early in the new year, President-elect Trump is scheduled to deliver his budget to Congress. Shortly thereafter, the House and Senate will develop their budget resolutions and likely two budget reconciliation packages that could include cuts to the agriculture budget baseline. It will be critically important for the cotton industry to follow the budget process closely and be prepared to communicate the industry’s priorities as necessary and appropriate to ensure effective policy remains in place.

Looking Ahead to 2018:

As always, every member of the House of Representatives will be up for re-election again in just two years. With the rising costs of campaigns, members of the House are almost constantly raising funds for reelection. The 2018 Senate races feature only a few Cotton Belt Senators –Flake (R-AZ), Nelson (D-FL), McCaskill (D-MO) and Kaine (D-VA). In total, Democrats will be defending 25 currently held seats and Republicans only defending eight seats in the 2018 election. However, seven of the nine Democratic Senators on the Senate Agriculture Committee face re-election in 2018, while no Republican Senator of the Committee is up for re-election in 2018.

*Committee leadership subject to confirmation of the respective parties’ caucus and full committee memberships and subcommittee leaders will be determined in January.

**Underlined names represent changes from previous Congress.