Senate Leaders and Committee Chairmen
The roster of Democratic leaders in the Senate looks unlikely to change in the 113th Congress, but several committees will have new chairmen. Five current chairmen are retiring, opening the door for more-junior Democrats to wield gavels. The possibility that President Obama will select Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to serve as secretary of State could open up another slot. Barring a surprise, the chairmen of some of the powerhouse committees—including Appropriations and Finance—won’t change. The list of likely and potential leaders is in the table below. An asterisk (*) denotes that the person who will be chairman in the new Congress currently holds the position.
PROSPECTIVE PARTY LEADERS
Majority leader: Harry Reid, D-Nev.*
Majority whip: Dick Durbin, D-Ill.*
Democratic Policy and Communications Center chairman: Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.*
Democratic Conference secretary: Patty Murray, D-Wash.*
PROSPECTIVE COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry: Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.,* who is fresh off reelection.
Appropriations: Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii*
Armed Services: Carl Levin, D-Mich.*
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Tim Johnson, D-S.D.*
Budget: Patty Murray, D-Wash., is in line to succeed Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., who is retiring. Murray is fresh off a successful cycle as Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairwoman and was cochair of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, known as the super committee, last year.
Commerce, Science, and Transportation: Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.*
Energy and Natural Resources: Ron Wyden, D-Ore., is in line to succeed Chairman Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who is retiring.
Environment and Public Works: Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.*
Finance: Max Baucus, D-Mont.*
Foreign Relations: John Kerry, D-Mass.,* is considered a potential successor to Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of State. A Kerry exit from Congress would put Robert Menendez, D-N.J.—a hard-liner on relations with Cuba—in line for the post.
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions: Tom Harkin, D-Iowa*
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: With Levin staying at the helm of Armed Services, Thomas Carper, D-Del., is in line to succeed Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., who is retiring.
Judiciary: Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.*
Rules: Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.*
Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Mary Landrieu, D-La.*
Veterans’ Affairs: With Murray likely assuming the Budget gavel, her post on Veterans’ Affairs is up for grabs. Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, are in the same class, but through a complicated formula, Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, has slightly more seniority.
Indian Affairs: Chairman Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is retiring, setting up a complex situation to succeed him: The next three most-senior members are either already chairmen or are also retiring. That puts Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., in the spotlight, but right behind her is Jon Tester, D-Mont., who was likely bolstered in his tough reelection bid on Tuesday by his state’s large Native American population. Montana has fewer than 1 million residents, and Native Americans comprise more than 6 percent of them.
Select Ethics: Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.*
Select Intelligence: Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.*
Select Aging: Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has seniority to take over from Herb Kohl, D-Wis., who is retiring.
This article appeared in print as "Senate Leaders and Committee Chairmen."
This article appears in the November 10, 2012, edition of National Journal Magazine.