Reid Announces Committee Chairmanships for 111th

Posted December 15, 2008 at 3:32pm

Already having dealt with the sensitive changes to his Senate committee chairmanships, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Monday formally announced with little fanfare the Senators who will lead the chamber’s panels in the 111th Congress.

The trickier task of doling out committee membership and subcommittee chairmanships has yet to be completed, Reid’s office said. Democrats do not want to set committee ratios or assign slots to new Senators until the Minnesota Senate race between GOP Sen. Norm Coleman and Democratic challenger Al Franken is resolved. If Franken emerges the winner after legal wrangling over ballots, Democrats would have a 59-41 majority.

Additionally, Reid has asked all full committee chairmen to give up all but one subcommittee gavel, and he has asked those with just subcommittee gavels to hold onto no more than two. That has set off a time-consuming shuffle.

As expected, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) will take over the Appropriations gavel from an ailing 91-year-old Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), who will effectively become chairman emeritus while continuing the head the panel’s Homeland Security Subcommittee. Byrd decided shortly after the Nov. 4 election to step down from the helm of the full committee after withstanding a nearly yearlong effort by Senate Democratic leaders to oust him.

Meanwhile, Reid also named Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) as chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Last month, Senate Democrats voted to allow Lieberman to keep that gavel, despite his negative statements about President-elect Barack Obama while campaigning for Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). However, Lieberman was stripped of his seat on the Senate Environment and Public Works panel, which resulted in the loss of one of his subcommittee chairmanships.

Reid did not announce the next chairman of the ethics panel, but the current chairman is Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Reid did announce that he expects her to continue to chair the EPW committee.

New committee chairmen include, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) atop Foreign Relations; Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) atop Commerce, Science and Transportation; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Intelligence; Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) at Rules and Administration; and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) at Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

Chairmen that will continue in their current roles include, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) at Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) at Armed Services; Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) at Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) at Budget; Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) at Energy and Natural Resources; Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) at Finance; Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) at Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) at Indian Affairs; Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) at Judiciary; Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) at Veterans’ Affairs; and Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) at Aging.

Reid makes the recommendations on chairmanships, but they are not official until the Senate adopts an organizing resolution laying out committee membership.