By Mike Lillis - 01/20/11 12:35 AM EST
The Jan. 8 shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has not kept the Arizona Democrat from retaining two of her three committee assignments in the new Congress.
Democratic Caucus members on Wednesday morning approved a resolution — adopted by the Steering Committee the night before — to keep Giffords on the Armed Services and Science & Technology committees, posts she held in the previous Congress.
Giffords, who was elected to a third term in November, was shot in the head during a constituent event in Tucson earlier in the month. The rampage killed six people, and injured 13 others, including Giffords.
The Arizona Democrat was upgraded this week from critical to serious condition, and is expected to enter a Houston-based rehabilitation center on Friday. The speed of Giffords' recovery has astounded doctors and left Democratic leaders hopeful she'll eventually resume her duties on Capitol Hill.
With Wednesday's resolution, House Democrats took a long step toward filling their committee assignments for the 112th Congress. The measure finalized the party's membership on 10 panels, including the Agriculture, Armed Services, Education & Labor, Financial Services, Judiciary, Homeland Security, Natural Resources, Oversight & Government Reform, Science & Technology, and Transportation & Infrastructure panels.
Still, several key panels remain unfilled. Aside from the single vacancy on Foreign Affairs, Democrats have two more spots to fill on the Small Business Committee, and five to finalize the Veteran Affairs panel.
Additionally, the Democratic Caucus has not yet approved the Budget Committee members recommended by the Steering panel, while the members of the Ethics Committee also remain unnamed.
The office of the Democratic Caucus declined to comment on the reason for the lingering vacancies. But a handful of senior Democrats downplayed their significance on Wednesday.
"There's nothing nefarious going on at all," said Rep. Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), the senior Democrat on the Rules Committee.