Nadler Likely to be House Judiciary Chair, Graham the Senate Chair

By David North on November 8, 2018

This week election brings, among other things, new leadership to both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees. These two groups shape immigration legislation.

In the House, it likely will be Jerrold Nadler, the Democratic Congressman from the southern part of Manhattan Island and parts of Brooklyn; while in the Senate the chairmanship will go to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). They will succeed, respectively, Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who did not seek re-election, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, who was not up for re-election and who is moving on the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee. That vacancy will be caused by the retirement of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

In the immigration context, Nadler's district includes Ellis Island, which processed incoming migrants from across the Atlantic in the days of steamship travel. And though his voting record does not reflect it, he is also the congressman from Wall Street.

We use the word "likely" above because, while Nadler's selection is pretty sure to occur, it is not certain. The Democratic members of the House might choose someone other than Nadler, who is currently the ranking member.

At the immigration subcommittee level in the House, there will be a new leader as well. It is likely to be the second-ranking Democrat on the full committee, former immigration lawyer Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.). She contested the selection of Nadler as the ranking member following the resignation of John Conyers (D-Mich.) earlier this year, and lost. Nadler has one more term in the House than she does, and the party members chose him for the position. Nadler and Lofgren have no disagreements on immigration policy, however, as is shown below.

Lofgren will replace James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) as the subcommittee chair.

The ranking Republican member on the full House Judiciary Committee will be chosen by that party's leadership, and might well be Steven Chabot (R-Ohio), the most senior GOP member of the full committee; some months ago Douglas Collins (R-Ga.), a younger member of the committee, said that he would run for the chairmanship were it to stay in Republican hands. Whether he will contest the ranking member's position is not known.

Who the ranking Republican on the subcommittee will be is also unknown. In several instances in the past, seniority has been overlooked by the leadership, as Steve King (R-Iowa) was moved aside on the grounds of some of his more controversial statements.

In the Senate, the chairman of the immigration subcommittee has been the GOP Whip of the Senate, John Cornyn (R-Texas), and the ranking member has been Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who has been the deputy leader of the Senate Democrats. They may well remain in place.

NumbersUSA maintains "immigration reduction grades" on all current and past members of Congress. This is how these (lifetime) grades work out for those mentioned above:

Cornyn C+ 64%
Durbin D- 17%
Graham D+ 35%
Grassley A 92%
Chabot B+ 84%
Collins A- 87%
Conyers F- 2%
Goodlatte A 91%
King A+ 95%
Lofgren F- 2%
Nadler F- 4%
Sensenbrenner B+ 84%

With the House Judiciary Committee chair's grade falling from an A to an F-, and the Senate chair's dropping from an A to a D+, the struggle for immigration reform will become much more difficult.

Topics: Politics