At the end of election night, the U.S. Senate hinges on two races likely headed for recounts, but this much is clear: the Democratic Party will control the House of Representatives. Chairmanships of committees and subcommittees are still subject to speculation, but safety and health professionals can begin to look ahead at some of the projected leaders of the new Congress.
Chief among those positions to watch is the chairmanships of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and its Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. The current committee chair is Rep. Buck McKeon of southeast California, who won re-election last night. The ranking Democrat is Rep. George Miller of San Franciscoâ€™s eastern suburbs. Miller has been a point man for mine safety reforms, and led a recent charge for a congressional review of health effects on rescue and recovery workers from 9/11, and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
In the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, the ranking Democrat, Rep. Major R. Owens of Brooklyn, N.Y., is retiring at the end of this term, leaving the seat most responsible for occupational health and safety legislation wide open. The outgoing subcommittee chairman, Rep. Charlie Norwood of northeastern Georgia, will still be around, but the next Democrat in line to lead the committee could be Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohioâ€™s Cuyahoga County. Kucinich, a former Democratic presidential candidate, helped author the 2005 Civil Rights Protections Act, which would effectively reverse the landmark Circuit City vs. St. Clair Adams case.