In tumultuous election, familiar faces on Capitol Hill remain

Shutterstock image. Copyright: Albert H. Teich 

Donald Trump won a big win that surprised the pundits, but down ticket, Capitol Hill remains largely the same. 

On a dramatic Election Day that saw the victory of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, there were a few downticket races important to federal IT watchers that won't make huge headlines.

It remains to be seen what the Trump administration brings for the federal workforce or federal IT. Trump has proposed a federal hiring freeze, with an eye to reducing the workforce by attrition. He's planned to increase attention to veterans, which likely means changes at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Most notably, he's promised new attention to immigration, with plans to deport millions of undocumented U.S. residents, which translates into an increase in the Homeland Security agencies.  

But for federal IT workers and contractors, the makeup of key congressional oversight committees will be familiar.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's IT Subcommittee, former CIA agent and cybersecurity expert, won a closely fought race with former Rep. Pete Gallego to represent Texas's sprawling 23rd District. Hurd won with 48.6 percent of the vote to Gallego's 46.6 percent. The win was notable in part because the district has flipped between parties and is home to a majority Hispanic population, a group that went against Trump in large numbers. 

Hurd has been an active freshman lawmaker on both the oversight and Homeland Security committees. He has sponsored bills to eliminate duplication of IT resources at DHS and to require the use of the Einstein cybersecurity system across government. He is also a lead sponsor of the Modernizing Government Technology Act, which would authorize governmentwide and agency funds for moving obsolete federal systems to modern managed services.

In another rematch, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) won his race against former Sen. Russ Feingold. Early on Nov. 9, Johnson maintained a lead of well over 100,000 votes with just a few ballots outstanding. 

Johnson chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The committee has broad oversight of workforce, cybersecurity and IT issues. The committee will have to play a role if the bipartisan MGT Act, sponsored by Hurd in the House, is going to move in the Senate in what promises to be a busy lame duck session of Congress.

One oversight veteran who won't be returning to Congress is Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), who had to run in a reconfigured district and lost to newcomer Stephanie Murphy.

Rep. Mike Coffman (R.-Colo), who was lagging in the polls, won his race. He's been mentioned in the conversation to take over the high-profile slot of chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

And Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the former House Oversight chairman and lead sponsor of the Federal IT Acquisition Reform Act, appeared to be pulling away in what had been a close race for his seat.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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