Government Relations Update

A few faces to watch in the new Congress

New members include academics and health professionals.

By Pat Kobor

Federal elections in November produced some changes around the margins, but control of both houses of Congress is unchanged. The majority Democrats picked up two seats in the Senate for a voting majority of 55-45 (given that the two Independents, Bernard Sanders, I-Vt., and Angus King, I-Maine, chose to caucus with the Democrats). In the House of Representatives, the majority Republicans lost eight seats for a balance of 234-200 (with two races still undecided at press time).

The demographic balance of the newly-elected 113th Congress is different than the 112th, however. Five newly elected Senators are women, bringing the total number of women Senators to 20. Half of the House membership in the new Congress will consist of women and minorities.

While the American Psychological Association gladly works with members of Congress from all backgrounds, members with academic or health backgrounds often have experience with issues that are important to APA. For instance, academics may have experience with the peer review systems of journals and federal granting agencies. Members of Congress with health backgrounds may have worked professionally with psychologists.

Several new members of Congress have held positions in academia or have conducted research. Rep.-elect Bill Foster, D-Ill., has a PhD in experimental physics. U.S. Sen.-elect Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., is an engineer and a booster of the national laboratories in New Mexico. Rep.-elect Dina Titus, D-Nev., has a PhD in political science and taught at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas for 30 years. Rep.-elect Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., is a psychologist and former state senator, who has worked as a professor at California State University - Long Beach. Rep.-elect Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., was a Marshall scholar from Princeton University; he earned a D. Phil. in the comparative social research program at Oxford. Foster, Titus and Lowenthal are all returning to Congress after a two-year absence, having lost their seats in the 2010 elections.

Several new members of Congress are health professionals. Reps.-elect Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H., are social workers. Rep.-elect Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, has an MS in mental health counseling. Rep.-elect Brad Weinstrup, R-Ohio, is a podiatrist and former chief of surgery at the Abu Ghraib complex in Iraq (after the scandal involving prisoner abuse). Reps.-elect Raul Ruiz, D-Calif., and Ami Bera, D-Calif., are physicians.

Several new members of Congress have BA degrees in psychology. They include Sen.-elect Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, and Reps-elect Lois Frankel, D-Fla., and Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla.

APA welcomes all new members to the 113th Congress, and wishes to all a civil and productive year.


Update Jan. 24, 2013

Since this story was published, some of the numbers in the first paragraph of the story have changed. Due to resignations, there are now 232 Republicans and 200 Democrats in the House of Representatives. Three members have resigned since the elections were final. They are Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Joanne Emerson, R-Mo. These vacancies will be filled by special elections.

Pat Kobor is senior science policy analyst in the APA Science Directorate’s Government Relations Office.