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111th Congress Freshmen Committee Assignments: Senate Edition

by: DavidNYC

Mon Jan 26, 2009 at 2:00 PM EST

Below is a table listing the committee assignments for the freshmen Senators in the 111th Congress (taken from here):

Senator Committee Assignments
Begich, Mark (D-AK) Armed Services
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Veterans' Affairs
Burris, Roland W. (D-IL) Armed Services
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Veterans' Affairs
Hagan, Kay R. (D-NC) Armed Services
Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Johanns, Mike (R-NE) Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Veterans' Affairs
Indian Affairs
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Kaufman, Edward E. (D-DE) Foreign Relations
Merkley, Jeff (D-OR) Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Environment and Public Works
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Risch, James E. (R-ID) Energy and Natural Resources
Foreign Relations
Joint Economic
Shaheen, Jeanne (D-NH) Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Energy and Natural Resources
Foreign Relations
Udall, Mark (D-CO) Armed Services
Energy and Natural Resources
Udall, Tom (D-NM) Environment and Public Works
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Rules and Administration
Indian Affairs
Warner, Mark R. (D-VA) Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Rules and Administration

Note: Michael Bennet, Al Franken and Kirsten Gillibrand have not yet received any committee assignments.

While we don't cover the legislative process here at SSP (for that, I'll recommend you check out Kagro X's new blog, Congress Matters), committee assignments can actually have a big impact on the electoral process. The gig you land can have an impact on what sort of legislation you can pass, how much pork you can direct home, what sort of fundraising you have access to, and what kind of influence you wind up accruing in general.

They can, on occasion, also play a direct role on the campaign trail. In 2006, Conrad Burns argued that replacing him would hurt Montana's juice in the Senate. To help counter this, Harry Reid promised Jon Tester a seat on the powerful appropriations committee "as soon as possible." I have to admited I snorted a bit at that formulation (who knows when "as soon as possible" is?), though of course Republicans tried to paint Reid as a liar for not giving Tester the Aprops seat right away.

But Harry Reid kept his word and came through with the assignment a few weeks ago. It's good news for Tester as he starts thinking about his freshman re-election battle looming four years off in the horizon. And it's also helpful for other Dems, because it shows that these sort of promises actually mean something.

We'll bring you a House version of this chart soon.

DavidNYC :: 111th Congress Freshmen Committee Assignments: Senate Edition
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He really needs to be on Appropriations by 2014.  That would give him a big boost for re-election.

James E. Risch (R-ID) on the ethics committee!
Is anyone else laughing about this?

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

Party Imbalance
All the new Ds have 2-4 committees; both Rs have 5.  Normal for the minority party to have more committee seats per member?

Fewer of them to spread around
Repubs pulling double duty. Can't complain.  

[ Parent ]
And they have to pick up the slack
The old-timers like Bunning usually don't even show up at committee meetings anyway.

[ Parent ]
Is it any wonder Voinovich and Bond decided to call it quits?

[ Parent ]
Mark Udall on Aging???
Isn't CO one of the youngest states in the nation?

Looks like Warner and Merkley got the best slots for the Dems, as well as Kaufman, who seemed to have just inherited Joey B's committee spots.  

He did seem to inherit Biden's slots. However, Banking would have been better given Delaware's ties to the credit card induatry.  Even agriculture would have been nice.  Delaware has a lot of chicken farms and chicken procesing plants, something you notice if you head south through the state.

What a strange mix: credit cards, corporate "homes", chicken, and chemicals.  

[ Parent ]
Ain't Delaware close to the high seas?
[/pun] Heh.

party: Democratic, ideology: moderate, district: CT-01

[ Parent ]
Reid & Burris
Considering that for how long and needlessly and stupidly that Reid was dissing Burris, Burris really didn't do too badly on the assignments that Reid handed him.

Maybe a sweetner
So he doesn't run again.

[ Parent ]
Seems like they just plugged Kaufman
into Biden's vacated spots.  Wonder if Beau will get those same jobs in two years, presuming he gets in.

I admit, I'm kind of disappointed that the Udalls don't share any committees.  That would be fun.

A seatwarmer for sure. But why only 2 committees?
Could it be since he's a 2 year placeholder, you're only allowed 2?
I wonder if Kaufman was given Biden's vacated office space as well

[ Parent ]
I know sometimes in the House
If you are on the more prestigeous committees, you get fewer overall assignments, so maybe that's going on.

[ Parent ]
Office space
is allocated purely by seniority.  Since Biden had 36 years, you can be certain someone else will grab those choice digs.  Kaufman is temporarily operating out of a Dirksen ground level office until he gets a permanent office assignment.

[ Parent ]
Rank Committees by Desirability
I realize that different committees are important to different members for various reasons.  By, I was just wandering if there was any sort of generally recognized ranking of the committees by desireability/difficulty of getting a spot on the committee?


1.  Appropriations
2.  Finance
3.  Armed Services
4.  Foreign Affairs
5.  Rules and Administration
6.  Judiciary
7.  Commerce
8.  Banking, Housing, Urban Affairs
9.  Health, Education, Labor
10. Agriculture
11. Homeland Security and Gov't Affairs
12. Budget
13. Energy
14. Environment
15. Intelligence
16. Veteran Affairs
17. Small Business
18. Indian Affairs
19. Ethics
20. Aging
21. International Narcotics Control

Rules is not as powerful as in the House
Every senator is basically his own rules committee.

28, Unenrolled, MA-08

[ Parent ]
Which Are the Best
Well there's the official breakdown in the Senate rules: "Twelve of the sixteen current standing committees are Class A panels. They are Agriculture; Appropriations; Armed Services; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Environment and Public Works; Finance; Foreign Relations; Governmental Affairs; Judiciary; and Labor and Human Resources. Somewhat less prestigious, but vital to the Senate's operations, are the four Class B standing committees. They are Budget; Rules and Administration; Small Business; and Veterans' Affairs."

And of course it depends on the senator's personal interests, and the economy of their state. Generally serving on a panel dealing with financial services is a good idea if you are from DE, CT or NY, while serving on Armed Services is a good idea if you are from Mississippi or Maine.

But probably the best measure of what senators themselves think is prestigious is to look at which committee more senior senators gravitate to. By that measure I'm pretty sure that over the last decade or so the most desirable committee is Finance.

[ Parent ]
And Indian Affairs
is a good spot for Udall, since New Mexico is 9.8 percent Native American. Also, he was always great with Indian affairs as a member of the House.

I wouldn't be surprised if he requested that committee assignment, actually.  

New Mexico politics from the local perspective.

[ Parent ]
His dad
Wasn't his dad Interior Secretary way back under Kennedy or Johnson?  Or was that Mark Udall's dad?

[ Parent ]
Yup. Mark is Mo's son
Tom is JFK Interior Sec. Stewart Udall's son.

[ Parent ]
Interesting assignments for Warner.
Although they are plum assignments for a freshman, they are all domestic policy-focused.  If Warner intended to use the Senate to burnish his foreign policy/national security credentials for a future Presidential run, he would likely have ended up on Armed Services, Foreign Relations or Homeland Security.

Armed Services
Well, unless he was doing investigations, Homeland Security is more domestic-oriented.

For a Virginian getting on Armed Services probably would've made the most sense - but Jim Webb is already on it, and while it happens, it's quite unusual for 2 senators from the same state and same party to be on the same committee together. But sure, he could've gone on Foreign Relations.  

[ Parent ]

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