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Senate Leaders Announce New Committee Rosters

Ratio change gives GOP a one-seat advantage at all committtees

Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., received his committee assignments on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., received his committee assignments on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The full Senate is set to ratify revised committee rosters and ratios before adjourning Tuesday evening.

The changes add a Democrat to the Finance and Judiciary Committees, because each needed new Democrats to provide an across-the-board one-seat advantage for the GOP with their diminished majority.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York announced the new Democratic assignments, which are highlighted by the appointments of Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California to the Judiciary Committee.

Booker and Harris become only the second and third African-American members of the Judiciary panel in American history.

“At every turn I will strive to advance the cause of reforming a broken justice system stacked against the poor and people of color, and to bend the arc of our nation’s history further towards equal justice for all,” Booker said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited that my dear friend Senator Harris will also be joining the committee. She is an immensely talented person who brings a wealth of skills and experience to the table. I can’t wait to work alongside her.”

Other than Booker and Harris, many of the other assignments affect the new members of the Democratic caucus.

Alabama Democratic Sen. Doug Jones will sit on the Banking, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Homeland Security and Aging panels.

Sen. Tina Smith, Minnesota’s new appointed senator, has received assignments to the Agriculture, Energy and Natural Resources, HELP and Indian Affairs committees.

An Agriculture Committee slot came open with Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., taking a seat on the Environment and Public Works Committee ahead of a potential infrastructure package.

“The EPW Committee has jurisdiction over areas that are central to Maryland’s success and impact every community in our great state,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “I’ve been a strong advocate for the idea that environmental and agricultural interests must work together to succeed, and I will continue to fight for Maryland’s farming community in the U.S. Senate.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Rhode Island picks up the added Democratic seat on the Finance Committee as part of the shuffle, after Jones’ victory in last month’s Alabama special election reduced the GOP Senate majority overall to just one, 51-49.

Whitehouse noted that his assignment to Finance means Rhode Island now has senators serving on the panels overseeing taxes and spending, with Sen. Jack Reed a longtime member of the Appropriations Committee.

On the Republican side, the shuffle following the departure of Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, has led to Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer landing a seat on the Agriculture Committee just ahead of the next farm bill debate.

Sen. Tim Scott will be joining his South Carolina colleague Lindsey Graham on the Armed Services Committee, and Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran will be making a return to the Banking panel.

“As a former Committee member, Senator Moran has a deep understanding of the issues under the Banking Committee’s jurisdiction, and I welcome his experience and expertise back to the Committee,” Banking Chairman Michael D Crapo of Idaho said. “He has a proven track record of advocating for policies that will strengthen the economy, create jobs and increase America’s global competitiveness.”

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