Tuesday, January 15, 2019
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Zoe Lofgren takes up House Administration gavel

So-called mayor of Capitol Hill oversees multiple aspects of Congress, voting and security
Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California will be the new “mayor of Capitol Hill,” as the chair of the House Administration Committee is sometimes called.

Unlike many other committees, the top spot on House Administration is not determined by seniority. Speaker Nancy Pelosi officially appointed Lofgren to lead the panel Friday. The nomination must be approved by the full Democratic caucus, which is expected to act next week.

“With the gavel, Congresswoman Lofgren will bring her vast experience and deep knowledge of the House to strengthen Congress and our democracy while safeguarding federal elections and ensuring a vibrant and diverse Congressional workforce,” said Pelosi in a statement announcing the appointment.

The House Administration Committee oversees legislative branch agencies that support members of Congress, including the Architect of the Capitol, Capitol Police and the Library of Congress. With Democratic leadership moving quickly on their promise to come out of the gate with a package of measures on campaign finance, voting rights, ethics and changes to how Congress works, the committee could be busy.

The panel’s top Republican, Rodney Davis of Illinois, sent a letter Friday requesting further investigation into voting irregularities in the 2018 midterms reported by House-sanctioned election observers.

“This Committee has an obligation to protect the American voter, which is why we need to conduct a thorough and accurate review of what occurred during the 2018 election cycle,” Davis said.

Intelligence agencies confirmed that foreign interference affected voting infrastructure in many states in 2016 and that risks were high for the midterm election contests, but the GOP-led panel was largely silent on the issue in 2018. Democratic aides say that hearings and legislation on election access, election security and campaign finance are expected in the committee early in the 116th Congress.

The committee’s jurisdiction also extends to issues that affect virtually every person who works in or visits the Capitol, but that are often overlooked.

Security for members and how Capitol Police handles security and staffing issues will continue to be on the committee’s agenda as threats against lawmakers increase. The panel approved a resolution last year to allow lawmakers to use office funds to purchase bulletproof vests and install security equipment at district offices.

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