Government Affairs Committee Update

Date: January 30, 2009
Type: Report

The 111th CONGRESS

The United States Senate and the House of Representatives officially convened the first session of the 111th Congress on Tuesday, January 6, 2009.  The first order of business for the House was the election of a Speaker.  The Democrats nominated Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Republicans nominated Representative John Boehner (R-OH).  By a vote of 255-174 Representative Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker of the House.  The Republican Conference later elected Representative John Boehner (R-OH) as Minority Leader. 

Following her election the Speaker administered the Oath of Office for the Members of the 111th Congress.  In the House, Democrats made a net gain of 21 seats in the November 4, 2008 elections and now hold 256 seats to 178 for the Republicans with one vacancy, the seat left open by the resignation of Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-IL). 

In the Senate, Republicans hold 41 seats; Democrats hold 58 seats including 2 Independents that caucus with the Democrats.  The Minnesota senate seat is still unsettled.  Although Democrat Al Franken was declared the winner by 225 votes, after a long drawn out recount, Republican Norm Coleman filed an election lawsuit which prevents Minnesota from officially certifying Franken’s election until the legal process has run its course.  Minnesota will have only one senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, until the issue is settled.

Democrat Roland Burris has replaced Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) as the junior senator from Illinois.

Three other Democratic Senators will soon be resigning to join the Obama Administration including Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) Vice President-elect, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) Secretary of State-designate, and Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) Interior Secretary-designate.  Colorado Governor Bill Ritter (D) has named Michael Bennett as Ken Salazar’s replacement.


Both the Senate and the House approved a Congressional Resolution to provide for the counting of the electoral votes for President and Vice President of the United States.  

President-elect Barack Obama will be sworn into office on January 20, 2009.


When a new Congress convenes following an election a new legislative session begins.  All legislation of the past two years that was introduced but not passed by both chambers of Congress must be reintroduced in the new Congress.   AFA-CWA’s technical correction to the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as well as the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration will need to be reintroduced. 

FMLA Technical Correction:   Shane Larson, with the assistance of Senator Hillary Clinton’s office, is looking for a new Senate lead sponsor for our legislation.  AFA-CWA does have commitments from House sponsors Tim Bishop (D-NY) and Thad McCotter (R-MI) to reintroduce the legislation in the House.


Although, the 2008 Election season barely seems behind us, it is time to begin thinking about the 2010 Election cycle.  It is critical that we begin to increase FlightPAC participation.  Anti-worker coalitions are already raising money to help defeat our friends in Congress and groups such as the US Chamber of Congress are “determined to block   labor’s legislative initiatives.”   

In order to maintain our strong and unified voice on Capitol Hill we must help elect members of Congress who support our issues and who will work on our behalf.  AFA-CWA’s Political Action Committee, FlightPAC, provides our Members with an opportunity to be involved in the political process.  Through voluntary contributions of eligible AFA-CWA Members, FlightPAC gives financial support to candidates for federal office who are committed to helping improve our workplace safety, health and security and our rights as Union Members. 

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