SOME new faces are expected to appear in the inner circle of President Barack Obama and in some committee switch-ups on Capitol Hill.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is expected to stay in his post during Obama's second term. It was reported that he might leave if his wife won her bid for a House seat representing Iowa, but Christie Vilsack ran in a distinctly conservative-leaning district and lost to incumbent Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa).
As for top trade negotiator Ron Kirk, he has said he plans to leave at the end of Obama's first term.
"I've been privileged to serve, but it would be my intention to take advantage of the opportunity to go back and serve my family now," he told Reuters.
"Like most members of the Cabinet, I do not anticipate that I would be around," Kirk said, but added that it is ultimately "the President's call" on whether to accept his resignation.
The trade post will be important for agriculture. No new trade deals have been negotiated in the last four years, although there has been some progress on Trans-Pacific Partnership discussions with many of the world's trade powerhouse nations.
Democrats close to the Obama Administration said Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar all could step down during Obama's second term, although the timing is far from certain. Any new secretary would require congressional approval, which could set up a significant hurdle for some of these positions.
House Agriculture Committee chair Frank Lucas (R., Okla.) recently announced the new Republican members who will serve on the committee during the 113th Congress.
Lucas, who was recently selected to serve his second term as chairman, announced that Reps. Dan Benishek (R., Mich.) and Jeff Denham (R., Cal.), along with freshman Reps. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.), Rodney Davis (R., Ill.), Richard Hudson (R., N.C.), Doug LaMalfa (R., Cal.) and Ted Yoho (R., Fla.), will serve on the committee.
Ten previous members of the committee will not be returning, including Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R., Kan.), who was removed by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R., Ohio). The remaining nine lost primaries, retired or are moving to different committees.
The Kansas Grain & Feed Assn. said in a statement it hopes Boehner will reconsider his decision to pull Huelskamp off the committee.
While House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson (D., Minn.) has yet to announce his selections, four minority members lost their elections or primaries, including Reps. Joe Baca (D., Cal.), Leonard Boswell (D., Iowa), Larry Kissell (D., N.C.) and Tim Holden (D., Pa.). Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D., Cal.) resigned from his seat earlier this year.
On the Senate side, a spokesperson for ranking agriculture committee member Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) said the committee ratios must be negotiated with leadership, and then Democrats and Republicans must decide who will serve on each committee.
There is some speculation surrounding whether Roberts will keep his rank or if Sen. Thad Cochran (R., Miss.) will use his seniority to vie for the position. The spokesperson said Roberts intends to remain where he is, but the agriculture committee still must vote and the conference must approve the recommendation for ranking member.