Critical Update: The New Congress (And a Shutdown)

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

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New leaders mean new priorities—and the partial shutdown is affecting some of those decisions.

Democrats officially took control of the House last week, which means Capitol Hill is realigning its approach on issues like tech and cyber. Democratic leaders will have a chance to pursue their own priorities and policies, and much of the agenda will play out on newly rostered committees and subcommittees.

One of the biggest shakeups is expected to come on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, where Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., is expected to investigate suspected abuses by the Trump administration and take a more compassionate approach to federal employees than his Republican predecessors. Two House Oversight subcommittees, IT and Government Operations, are also responsible for much of Congress’ oversight on tech and cyber at federal agencies. However, it’s still unclear which lawmakers will be leading them.

Mike Hettinger, founder of the Hettinger Strategy Group and former House Oversight staff director, joined Nextgov to discuss who might take the helm of those subcommittees and others, and how new leadership will affect agencies and contractors when it comes to IT modernization, FITARA and other tech issues.

“I think you’re going to see almost a complete shift in attitude,” Hettinger said of House Oversight. “I think there’s going to be a pretty significant focus on government reorganization plan. You’ve got all this activity, none of which has been authorized by Congress. Where IT fits is really what we don’t know at this point.”

As Democratic leadership finalizes their committee structure, he also anticipates changes to lawmakers’ oversight of the military, election security and emerging technologies like artificial intelligence.

And stay tuned until the end of the episode, where we provide an update on how the government shutdown is affecting Congress and committee assignments.

Listen to the full interview below or by subscribing through the Apple store or Google Play.