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Legislative Update

Congress. The House and Senate are in recess until the week of April 8.

House Committees. Today House Speaker Mike Johnson said Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) would succeed Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) as chairman of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party. Gallagher announced Friday that he would be leaving the House on April 19. Also on Friday, Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-Tex.) wrote Speaker Johnson that she would be stepping down as chair as soon as the Republican Steering Committee and the full Republican Conference select a new chair. Granger, who previously said she was not running for re-election, will continue to serve on the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) announced he would run to replace Granger and is said to have the inside track to win the post. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) is reportedly considering a bid for the gavel. Cole is currently chair of the Rules Committee and would have to give up that post if he becomes Appropriations chair.

FY 2024 Appropriations. It took until 2 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, but Congress finally wrapped up work on FY 2024 appropriations with Senate passage of the second six-bill package of spending measures. The Senate vote of 74-24 followed House passage Friday morning by a vote of 286-134. President Biden signed the legislation on Saturday.

Political Update

House Vacancies. Following the resignation Friday of Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), the party breakdown in the House is 218 Republicans, 213 Democrats. The totals will change to 217 Rs, 213 Ds, and five vacancies on April 19, when Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) resigns. The next revision will come after the April 30 special election in New York, where Democratic State Senator Tim Kennedy is expected to win the seat vacated by fellow Democrat Rep. Brian Higgins.

After that, the next three special elections are expected to see Republicans replacing other Republicans – May 21 in California to fill Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s seat, June 11 in Ohio to replace Rep. Bill Johnson, and June 25 in Colorado to replace Rep. Ken Buck.

Gallagher’s seat will remain vacant for the rest of the year. Under Wisconsin law, congressional vacancies that happen in an election year can only be filled in a special election if they happen before the second Tuesday in April, which is April 9 this year.

New Jersey Senate. Rep. Andy Kim (D) appears to have a clear path to winning his party’s nomination for the Senate following Senator Bob Menendez’s announcement on March 21 that he will not run for re-election in the June 4 primary and yesterday’s announcement by Tammy Murphy, wife of Gov. Phil Murphy, that she was suspending her campaign. Menendez, who is facing federal bribery charges, added that he was “hopeful that my exoneration will take place this summer and allow me to pursue my candidacy as an independent Democrat in the general election.” Menendez’s trial is set to begin May 6.

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