When the US House begins its session in January 2011, committee chairs will switch from the Democratic party to the Republican, due to their new majority status following the November 2010 elections. As with all committee chairs, the incoming leaders will have considerable sway over what issues are addressed and how they are handled.
People and organizations that have given money to these new chairs can be expected to make their voices heard. The organization MAPLight has pulled together information on who the leading contributors were from Oct. 14, 2008 through Oct. 13, 2010 (excluding contributions from political parties or other candidates). Reviewing this information can provide leads and help shape your coverage of issues as committees take on topics of interest to your audience.
For instance, it may be useful to know that Doc Hastings (R-WA), who will chair the Natural Resources Committee, received the most money from oil and gas, agriculture, construction, and insurance industry members. Electric utility and forest products contributors are also among the top 10 categories.
Fred Upton (R-MI) will chair the Energy and Commerce Committee. Among his top 10 categories of contributors are the electric utility, oil and gas, automotive, and telephone utility industries.
Frank Lucas (R-OK) will chair the Agriculture Committee. His top 10 contributors include numerous segments of the agriculture industry, as well as the oil and gas industry.
For much more information, see:
- "Congress: 112th Committee Appointments Aligned w/ Industry Contributions,"  MAPLight press release, Dec. 13, 2010 (expected to be updated frequently).
You can use the same sources cited by MAPLight to check out who the contributors were for various Democratic committee chairs when they held sway, and compare those dollar donations with the outcomes of various legislation.