Democratic critics of Trump set to lead US House committees
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) (Photo: screen capture)

The Democratic takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives will likely put the leadership of many congressional committees into the hands of some of Republican President Donald Trump’s most prominent adversaries on Capitol Hill.

Democratic party leaders in the House will decide on the heads of committees, with seniority one of the major determining factors.

Here is a look at Democrats expected to head 10 powerful House panels.

APPROPRIATIONS - Nita Lowey, 81, would be the first woman to lead Appropriations, which writes spending bills that fund the government. She has long sought to preserve government funding for domestic programs like biomedical research.

A close ally of Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the 30-year House veteran from New York would likely back funding for Planned Parenthood, oppose oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and deny the $5 billion Trump wants for a wall on the border with Mexico.

ARMED SERVICES - Adam Smith, 53, a pro-business moderate from Washington, has been the top Armed Services Democrat since 2015.

The panel is known for bipartisanship and he has worked with Republicans on sharply increasing the Pentagon’s budget. He is not expected to seek significant changes on policies such as improving military readiness and countering Chinese and Russian expansionism.

But Smith likely will seek to rein in Trump initiatives like his deployment of troops to the border with Mexico and the push to create a “Space Force.”

BUDGET - John Yarmuth, 71, the only congressional Democrat from Republican Kentucky, is front-runner to lead the committee as it addresses the end of the two-year budget deal that expires in September 2019.

Yarmuth has challenged Republican plans to cut domestic spending and boost funding of the military. He has promised to hold a hearing on “Medicare for All,” a reference to a potential single-payer healthcare system that would largely replace private insurance.

ENERGY AND COMMERCE - Frank Pallone, 67, the likely next chairman of Energy and Commerce, has been a leading Democratic voice on environmental and health issues.

He has promised to hold hearings on the Trump administration’s undermining of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and said he will try to lower prescription drug prices.

Pallone has called climate change a critical issue and wants to restore environmental regulations rolled back since Trump took office in January 2017.

FINANCIAL SERVICES - California representative Maxine Waters, 80, has become a liberal favorite - and target of personal attacks from Trump - as she has called repeatedly for his impeachment and tried to obtain documents that might reveal any ties with Russia.

If she leads Financial Services, as expected, Waters wants to strengthen the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and crack down on predatory lending.

Major banks warned before the election that Waters’ ascent on the powerful panel could slow efforts to deregulate banking. But any such legislation would face stiff opposition in a Senate where Trump’s Republicans have increased their majority.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Eliot Engel, 71, wants to conduct oversight of Trump’s foreign policy after what he has described as two years of congressional neglect.

While Engel is likely to spearhead Democratic initiatives such as efforts to punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 U.S. election and to strengthen international alliances, the veteran New York congressman has at times broken from party leadership, particularly on issues related to Israel.

Engel backed Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and opposed the international nuclear agreement with Iran from which Trump withdrew in May.

INTELLIGENCE - California representative Adam Schiff, 58, has emerged as a foil to Trump as ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

As chairman, he would seek to restore the power of Congress to “check and balance” the president and return to traditions such as holding annual public hearings on worldwide threats faced by the United States.

Schiff has said an area of particular interest related to investigations of Trump are allegations that Russians might possess financial leverage over him.

JUDICIARY - Jerrold Nadler, 71, has tangled with Trump for years, stemming from the president’s days as a New York real estate developer.

If he becomes Judiciary Committee chairman as expected, the hard-nosed attorney would lead the panel handling any effort to impeach Trump. But Nadler has said he will not rush to drastic action, instead waiting for the outcome of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s federal probe.

OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM - Elijah Cummings of Maryland, 67, has promised wide-ranging investigations of the Trump administration if he becomes chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, considered the most powerful investigative panel in Congress.

Cummings has said the panel will also focus on issues including skyrocketing prescription drug costs, the opioid epidemic and voting rights.

WAYS AND MEANS - Richard Neal, 69, is a former city mayor from Massachusetts. Known as one of the party’s pro-business leaders on economic policy, he has been ranking Democrat since 2017 on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which writes tax laws and oversees trade.

Neal has not publicly clashed with Trump, but as chairman would likely try to roll back some of the president’s tax cuts. Neal also has said he wants Congress to have more of an influence over trade deals.

He has vowed to demand Trump’s tax returns from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Mary Milliken and Rosalba O'Briend