Sure, we college students know exactly who the President and First Lady are, but can we all name the Speaker of the House or House Minority Leader?
Congress is currently in its 114th session and in the House, the Republicans currently hold a 247-188 majority over the Democrats, which means that the Republicans hold much of the power in congressional committees and often carry the floor. The House is extremely powerful in general because all revenue bills – bills that deal with the nation’s or taxpayers’ money – have to be introduced in the House. Even if the President vetoes a bill passed in the House and Senate, the representatives can override the veto with a two-thirds majority and the help of the senators.
Speaker of the House: Paul Ryan (Rep.)
A Wisconsin representative, Speaker Ryan represents the state’s first congressional district, serving his ninth term in Congress. Ryan succeeded John Boehner as Speaker after serving as chairman on the House Budget Committee where Ryan advocated a budget proposal called “The Path to Prosperity.” The Speaker also headed the Ways and Means Committee. In 2012, Ryan was Mitt Romney’s running mate in the presidential election, which the pair lost to incumbent President Barack Obama. Recently, as a part of his position as Speaker, Ryan has proposed A Better Way, a conservative initiative on six distinct issues: poverty, national security, the economy, the Constitution, health care and tax reform.
Majority Leader: Kevin McCarthy (Rep.)
Serving California’s twenty-third congressional district, Kevin McCarthy was previously an entrepreneur and a member of California’s State Congress. McCarthy was elected to Congress in 2006 and served as a whip for the Republican Party; he has been the majority leader since 2014. As a Congressman, McCarthy blocks tax increases, opposes big government policies and advocates his pro-life beliefs in terms of abortion. Currently, McCarthy is focusing on North American energy independence, which in simpler terms, means that he advocates for new energy sources that don’t rely on resources from foreign countries.
Majority Whip: Steve Scalise (Rep.)
A former systems engineer, Congressman Steve Scalise has served Louisiana’s first congressional district since 2008 after serving in the Louisiana State Congress. In the United States House of Representatives, Scalise was preceded by Senator Bobby Jindal, whose name you may recognize from early in the presidential primaries this election season. In his time as a Congressman, Scalise has worked to block climate change regulations to save taxpayer dollars, eliminate red tape and mandates on the telecommunication industry, protect Second Amendment rights and provide conservative alternatives to the Obama Administration’s policies like Obamacare.
Minority Leader: Nancy Pelosi (Dem.)
A former Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011 – the first woman to hold the position – Pelosi currently serves the twelfth congressional district of California. Pelosi has served in Congress for 28 years and has led the passage of laws such as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act. From 1976 to 1996, Pelosi has served on the Democratic National Committee. Over her time in Congress, the former Speaker has worked to raise minimum wage, create governmental accountability and combat climate change.
Minority Whip: Steny Hoyer (Dem.)
Representing Maryland’s fifth congressional district, Hoyer first won a seat in Congress in 1981 after serving in the Maryland state legislature. In Congress, he has been vocal on issues such as preserving natural resources, creating employment and working towards economic development. The Congressman has also spearheaded various bills through his 35 years of service: Americans with Disabilities Act (1990), Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (1990) and Help America Vote Act (2002). From 2007 to 2011, Hoyer served as the House Majority Leader, the highest position a Maryland congressman has ever held.
As college students, it wouldn't seem that the names and faces of the House of Representatives are all that important to know; however, with a huge - and most likely very historic - November election rapidly approaching, it's essential that we all know the workings of the House so that we can make informed votes on each of our ballots. Whether you want to help maintain the Republican majority or change to Democratic leadership this fall, your vote matters. Even more than that, though, knowing the opinions and politicians in the House will help you understand current events in government more fully. To look up your representatives up for re-election in November, visit 270 to Win’s Who Represents Me here.
Lead Image Credit: Ron Cogswell via Flickr Creative Commons