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Government Affairs Update

Impact of November 2004 Elections

The results of the November election have had varying impacts on the University at both the federal and state levels. A summary follows:


With George W. Bush’s victory, there were several administration appointments and departures at many of the agencies and departments that the University works closely with or from which it receives significant funding for research.

Department of Education

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings most recently served as Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. Prior to this, she served as a Senior Advisor to Governor George W. Bush with responsibility for developing and implementing the Governor’s education policy. Spellings has also served as associate executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards. Secretary Spellings graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in political science and journalism. Her nomination has largely been welcomed by the higher education community.

Deputy Secretary Eugene Hickok recently announced his resignation from the Department. Hickok previously served as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Education under Governor Tom Ridge.

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)

Most recently, Secretary Michael Leavitt served as the Administrator for the EPA. He served three terms as Governor of Utah, during which he was chosen by the nation’s governors to represent states in working with Congress on welfare reform, Medicaid and children’s health insurance. Leavitt holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and business from Southern Utah University, and was formerly the president and chief executive officer of a regional insurance firm.

Department of Homeland Security

Former Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge recently resigned. Michael Chertoff, current U.S. Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, has been nominated as his replacement. Judge Chertoff previously served as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. Judge Chertoff received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Department of State

Prior to her nomination and confirmation as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was the National Security Advisor for President Bush. Of interest to the higher education community, the Department of State has a role in foreign student and visa issues. During her confirmation hearings, Rice indicated that she will be mindful of these issues, indicating that student exchange is invaluable and that the nation needs to reverse the trend of declining applications of foreign students to U.S. colleges and universities. Rice has served as the Provost at Stanford University, where she joined the faculty in 1981.

Department of Energy

The House confirmed Samuel Bodman as Energy Secretary by voice vote on January 31. He succeeds Spencer Abraham, who announced his resignation in November. The DOE includes an Office of Science which is a major funder of the physical sciences. Bodman most recently served as Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. He holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University, and completed his Sc.D. at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Bodman was an Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT and is a former Director of MIT’s School of Engineering Practice, as well as a member of the Executive and Investment Committees at MIT. Bodman was also the Technical Director of the American Research and Development Corporation, a pioneer venture capital firm focused on technology and innovation. His appointment has been endorsed by the higher education community.

Department of Commerce

Carlos Gutierrez has been confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Prior to his nomination, Gutierrez was the CEO of the Kellogg Company.

Department of Agriculture

Former Governor of Nebraska Mike Johanns was sworn in as the    Secretary of Agriculture.


Administrator Sean O’Keefe recently announced his resignation to become chancellor at LSU-Baton Rouge. A replacement has yet to be nominated.

Congressional Elections—Alumni

Senator Arlen Specter, a Penn alumnus (B.A. ’51), was recently elected to his fifth Senate term. He is also the new Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over judicial nominations. Specter is also currently the Chairman of the Senate Labor, HHS and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, which has funding jurisdiction for the NIH as well as federal student aid. There is still the possibility of the creation of a new appropriations subcommittee for “intelligence;” the academic and biomedical research communities have been very active in trying to convince the Senator to remain as Chairman of L/HHS/ED subcommittee.

Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA-2). Representative Fattah, a Penn alumnus (M.A. ’86), was recently re-elected to his sixth term, and is Penn’s representative in Congress (Penn’s campus is in his district). He is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, holding a seat on the Subcommittee on VA-HUD & Independent Agencies, and as the ranking member on the Subcommittee on the District of Columbia. Fattah is particularly interested in expanding higher education opportunities for underrepresented students. His Philadelphia office is on Penn’s campus.

Representative Phil English (R-PA-3). Representative English, a Penn alumnus (B.A.’78), was re-elected to his sixth term representing the City of Erie and other areas in Northwest Pennsylvania. He is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and is the sponsor of legislation to expand tax incentives for higher education expenses.

Representative Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN-9). Representative Ford, a Penn alumnus (B.A. ’92), was re-elected to a fifth term in a district comprised primarily of most of Memphis and some of its suburbs. His father is a former Member of the House of Representatives as well.  Ford sits on the House Budget Committee and the Financial Services Committee, and plans to announce in the near future his intentions on seeking the seat of retiring Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

*Representative Vito Fossella (R-NY-13).  Representative Fossella, a Penn alumnus (B.S. ’87), was re-elected to his fourth term representing the district comprised of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. He is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Financial Services Committee.

Representative David Scott (D-GA-13).  Representative Scott, a Penn alumnus (M.B.A. ’69), has been re-elected to a second term representing a district near Atlanta. He sits on the House Agriculture and Financial Services Committees.

Congressional Elections—New Pennsylvania Delegation Members

Representative Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8) was elected to the seat of Congressman Jim Greenwood who retired to become the President of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). The 8th district is comprised mainly of Bucks County and also includes a portion of Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties as well. Fitzpatrick is a former Member and Chairman of the Bucks County Board of Commissioners. He has been selected to the Committee on Financial Services and the Committee on Small Business.

Representative Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13) was elected to the seat of former Congressman Joe Hoeffel, who ran unsuccessfully against Senator Arlen Specter. The 13th district is comprised primarily of Montgomery County and also includes a portion of Philadelphia County. Prior to her election to Congress, Schwartz was a member of the Pennsylvania Senate as well as the Pennsylvania State Board of Education. Schwartz has a background and interest in health and education issues. She has been selected to serve on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which is of importance to the University’s development of the Postal Lands and our support of the Schuylkill River Development Corporation. While in the PA Senate, she was active in various issues of interest to Penn, including serving as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee and serving on the Health Research Advisory Board for the Tobacco Settlement funding.

Representative Charles Dent (R-PA-15) was elected to replace Congressman Pat Toomey who ran unsuccessfully for the primary nomination against Senator Arlen Specter. The 15th district encompasses the majority of the Lehigh Valley as well as a portion of Montgomery County. Prior to his election, Dent was a member of the Pennsylvania Senate. He has been selected to serve on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as the Committee on Homeland Security.

Congressional Party Margins and Leadership Changes

In the Senate, Republicans gained a net of four seats bringing the Senate composition to 55-44-1. Republicans also gained three seats in the House resulting in a 232-202-1 margin.


Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY) is the new Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP).  This committee has responsibility for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, which will expire this year. 

Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) is the new Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee replacing Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK). Prior to assuming the chairmanship of the full committee, Cochran was the chair of the Subcommittee on Agriculture appropriations.


Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA) is the new Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee replacing Representative Bill Young (R-FL). Prior to assuming the chairmanship of the full committee, Lewis was the chair of the Subcommittee on Defense appropriations.


In state legislative election results, the Republicans maintained firm control of both the Pennsylvania House and Senate. In the House, the Republicans have a 110-92 advantage, with one seat vacant. This margin represents a loss of two seats by the Democrats from the prior session. In the Senate, Republicans picked up one seat with the defeat of incumbent Democratic Senator Allen Kukovich (D-Westmoreland). Republicans control the Senate by a margin of 29-18, with three seats vacant due to incumbent Senators being elected to higher office (former Senators Allyson Schwartz, Jack Wagner and Charles Dent). With the Republican control of both houses, Governor Edward G. Rendell (C ’65) will face hurdles to implement his proposed budget priorities.


Of the 13 new legislators, only one is a graduate of the University.  Michael Gerber (D-Montgomery) defeated incumbent Melissa Murphy Weber to capture the 148th legislative district in Montgomery County. Gerber received his B.A. from Penn in 1995. Gerber is an attorney with the law firm of Wolf Block and his father Richard Gerber (W ’56) currently chairs the Pennsylvania Securities Commission.

Philadelphia Delegation

In terms of the local Philadelphia legislative delegation, one new member was added. Representative Thomas Blackwell (D-Philadelphia) had defeated the incumbent Michael Horsey in the Democratic primary and was elected to serve the 190th district in West Philadelphia. Blackwell is the son of the late U.S. Representative Lucien Blackwell and stepson of Philadelphia Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell (Penn is located within her district).


There were very few changes in the makeup of the top legislative leadership of the four caucuses. Of particular note is the switch in the House Republican leadership, where Representative Brett Feese (R-Lycoming) becomes Chairman of the influential House Appropriations Committee and former Appropriations Chair David Argall (R-Schuylkill) moves over to become House Majority Whip. In the Senate, Senator Connie Williams (D-Montgomery) assumed the leadership position of Senate Democratic Caucus Administrator. Williams received her MBA from Penn in 1980. Senator Robert Wonderling (R-Montgomery) is the new Chair of the Senate Communications and Technology Committee. Wonderling received an M.A. from Fels in 1991.

Statewide Office Elections

Finally, in statewide row office elections, former Senator Jack Wagner was elected as Auditor General, replacing Robert P. Casey, Jr., who was elected as the new Treasurer of the Commonwealth (replacing Barbara Hafer). Tom Corbett was elected as the new Attorney General, replacing interim Attorney General Pappert.


There were no City offices on the ballot in the General Election this past November. However, Penn students did play a significant role in voter turnout in Philadelphia during this past election. For a report on how Penn’s campus fared in voter turnout during the election, as well as other Philadelphia universities and colleges, visit the Committee of 70 website at www.seventy.org. The Committee of 70 is a non-profit political watchdog organization in Philadelphia that promotes good government. The report, A Preliminary Report Card for the Class of 2004: Collegiate Voting in the Quaker/City is available under the “News You Can Use” section of their website.

Carol R. Scheman,
Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs



There was a list of Congressional Elections—Alumni which included Representative Vito Fossella, a Republican from NY who earned his B.S. from Wharton in 1987, not 1993. He earned his J.D. in 1993 from Fordham Law. —Ed.



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 20, February 8, 2005


February 8, 2005
Volume 51 Number 20


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