Senate Republicans Announce Committee Assignments

December 15, 2014 – 4:40 p.m.

Senate Republicans announced their committee assignments for the upcoming Congress today, joining Democrats who made the assignments last week.  However, Republicans have not formally selected committee chairmen for the upcoming Congress yet (in most cases there is no contest, but we are thinking mostly of Budget, where there is a contest).

On Environment and Public Works, there is some confusion.  The traditional ratio on that panel has been 10 majority seats to 8 minority, and the list released by Democratic Leader Reid’s office last week only had 8 Democratic names on it, ending with Ed Markey (D-MA).  But the new list released by Republicans has 11 R’s on EPW, and given how there seems to be a R+2 ratio on all committees, this would presumably create space on EPW for one more Democrat, who we think would be Cory Booker (D-NJ).

Also, we missed it at first, but apparently, incoming Senate freshman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) wants to follow in the footsteps of longtime EPW chairman Jennings Randolph (D-WV) because she has apparently concentrated her committee priority mojo on EPW, allowing her to leapfrog returning incumbents Crapo (R-ID), Boozman (R-AR), Sessions (R-AL), Wicker (R-MS), and Fischer (R-NE).  Capito now appears at #4 on the list of Republican EPW members in seniority.

In addition, Capito (along with new freshmen Cassidy (R-LA), Lankford (R-OK), and Daines (R-MT), get spots on Appropriations, and Capito will get to chair a subcommittee there (probably Legislative Branch) because she has the most House seniority among the four freshmen named to Appropriations.

Three new Republicans (none of them freshmen) join the Finance Committee: Dan Coats (R-IN,), who had to quit the Appropriations Committee to do so, plus Tim Scott (R-SC) and Dean Heller (D-NV).

The fact that Coats is abandoning Appropriations opens up the chairmanship of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which could now go to Mark Kirk (R-IL) or Jerry Moran (R-KS).

(Speaking of Finance, it is official that that panel is now 14 R’s and 12D’s for a total of 26.  We looked it up, going all the way back to when Hawaii joined the Union in 1959 and took the Senate to 100 members, and this is the biggest the Finance Committee has ever been.  Back in the 1960s, the panel had 17 members (11 D’s and 6 R’s), then it expanded to 20 members in 1979 (11 majority and 9 minority, usually) until Jim Jeffords switched parties in summer 2001 which caused a temporary expansion of the panel, but then it started getting expanded again in the 110th Congress, to 21, then 23, then 24 members and now 26. By comparison, a committee of the House of Representatives that included 26 percent of the chamber’s Members and Delegates would have 110 members.)

This one-page PDF document shows R and D membership for next year on Appropriations, Banking, Commerce, EPW and Finance.

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