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NAIFA INSIGHTS Founded in 1890, NAIFA is one of the nation’s oldest and largest associations representing the interests of insurance professionals from every Congressional district in the United States. The Makeup of the New Congress: What Advisors Need to Know ashington has maintained W the status quo following a divisive election. By Diane Boyle A s we look to the new year, we might finally be far enough from November to take a look at where the election left the nation. The country still remains divided between red and blue states. In the Senate, Democrats picked up two seats, bringing the current split to 53 Democrats, 45 Republicans, and two Independents, who will likely caucus with the Democrats. This keeps both parties from the critical 60 vote majority needed to avoid a filibuster and cut off debate on contentious legislation. Since filibusters are not allowed in the House, the Republicans keep their comfortable majority above the 218 (or 50 percent) threshold that is needed to maintain control and pass legislation. So, if Washington has maintained the status quo, what do we need to know about the makeup of Congress? Key Winners First, let’s take a look at the key winners: Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. Sen. Tester, serves on the Senate Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over insurance. He is a staunch advocate for the insurance agent and advisor community. In the 112th Congress, he was the lead Senate Democrat sponsor of NAIFA-supported legislation to achieve agent licensing reform through the creation of a National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB). He took a lead role to push back with the Department of Labor on its efforts to redefine who will be an ERISA fiduciary. Also, together with Sen. David Vitter, R-La., he shepherded the hard-fought National Flood Insurance Program extension and reform bill through the Senate. Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga. Rep. Barrow was the lead Democrat sponsor of H.R. 1206, the medical loss ratio fix bill advocated by NAIFA. Along with Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Rep. Barrow succeeded in reporting the bill out of the Energy and Commerce Committee during the prior Congress. Rep. Charles Boustany, R-La. Rep Boustany, who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax issues, understands the value of insurance products and the role of the agents and advisors. He was the lead sponsor in the 112th Congress of H.R. 1173, the CLASS Act repeal legislation supported by NAIFA. He also co-sponsored the medical loss ratio fix bill. Former Rep. Dan Maffei, D-N.Y. Rep. Maffei returns to Congress following a narrow defeat in 2010. During the Dodd-Frank Act negotiations, Rep. Maffei sponsored the NAIFA-championed amendment to ensure that a broker-dealer or registered rep subject to a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)-defined fiduciary duty can never be in violation of the duty if he only sells the securities that he is contractually obligated to sell. That important “proprietary products” safe harbor was a major accomplishment for NAIFA’s advocacy efforts during the Dodd-Frank debates. Leadership and Key Committees Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, retains his post as Speaker. Eric Cantor, R-Va., remains the House’s Majority Leader and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., continues as Majority Whip. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., joins the leadership as Republican Conference Chair and Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan., as Vice Chair. Greg Walden, R-Ore., serves as the National GOP Congressional Committee Chair. And Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., is the Conference Secretary. On the Democratic side, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., remains the leader. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., retains his post as Minority Whip, and Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn, D-S.C., maintains his position. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., serves as Democratic Caucus Chair, and Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., is the Democratic Caucus Vice Chair. In the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., keeps his leadership position. Sen. Richard Durbin. D-Ill., remains Majority Whip and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., continues to play a significant role as Vice Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is the Democratic Conference Secretary and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., is the Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair. On the Republican side, Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., remains Senate Minority Leader. John Cornyn, R-Texas, replaced retired Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., as Minority Whip. Republican Conference Chair is John Thune, R-S.D., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., serves as Vice Chair. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is the Policy Committee Chair and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., serves as the Campaign Committee Chair. Some of the newly-elected House members are previous state office holders or have reclaimed their seats in Congress following a previous defeat. And while five of the new members - Reps. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., Juan Vargas, D-Calif., Brad Schneider, D-Ill., John Delaney, D-Md., Scott Perry, R-Pa. - have experience in the insurance industry, many of the freshmen members have little or no experience in insurance and financial services matters. NAIFA members and staff are eager to engage decision-makers at every level of the legislative and regulatory system as we work to advocate for our industry. Diane Boyle, HIA, is the vice president of federal government relations for NAIFA. Contact her at diane.boyle@ innfeedback.com. January 2013 » InsuranceNewsNet Magazine 61