Expect a new cast of characters serving on the small business committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate in the next Congress. Republicans George Allen of Virginia and Conrad Burns of Montana, who lost the two closest Senate races in the country in Tuesday's balloting, served on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. As a result of the switch in power, Olympia Snowe of Maine will move from chairing the committee to serving as its ranking minority member. John Kerry of Massachusetts is in line to become the chair of the committee. Both Snowe and Kerry have advocated for greater funding for the Small Business Administration under its new leader, Steven Preston.

On the House side, four of 18 Republican members of the small business committee were defeated for re-election: Michael Sodrel of Indiana, Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Jed Bradley of New Hampshire, and Sue Kelly of New York. (Kelly has not conceded yet, but all reports indicate that she was defeated.)

Here, the difference between the outgoing and incoming chairs is likely to be more pronounced than in the Senate, where Snowe and Kerry agreed on many issues. Don Mazullo of Illinois, the outgoing chair of the committee, is much more conservative than Nydia Velazquez, the incoming chair of the committee, who represents New York's 12th Congressional district, which includes parts of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. A vocal critic of the Bush administration's handling of the SBA, Velazquez is in line to become the first Latina to head a Congressional committee.