Senate GOP announces new committee assignments

Senate GOP leaders on Monday announced their conference's new committee assignments for the next Congress, when Republicans will officially add to their numbers in the upper chamber and take control of oversight panels.
 
With Republicans in the majority next year, the GOP will have a 54-46 advantage in the Senate, thereby providing them with extra seats on committees. Democrats had a 55-45 advantage in the Congress that’s about to wrap up, so they occupied more slots than Republicans on each panel.
 
Republicans will gain two seats on the following committees: Agriculture; Appropriations; Armed Services; Banking; Budget; Commerce; Energy; Environment and Public Works; Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP); Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Indian Affairs; and Rules and Administration.
 
Republicans will also gain two seats on the Joint Economic Committee and the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
 
They will gain one seat on: Finance, Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Judiciary, Small Business and Veterans Affairs.
 
The Committee on Committees, led by Sen. Mike CrapoMike CrapoCongress should ‘phone a friend’ when sanctioning Russia Sherrod Brown looks to defy Trump trend in Ohio McConnell 'not optimistic' Dodd-Frank overhaul will happen MORE (R-Idaho), was responsible for the committee assignments.
 
At the beginning of next year, Senate Republicans will have to ratify all of the committee assignments. Republican members on each panel will then select their respective chairman and then those chairmen will have to be approved by the GOP conference.
 
The only race hanging in the balance is for the Budget Committee gavel. Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsJustice Dept. to seek Supreme Court review in Trump travel ban case Sessions vows to stop leaks about Manchester attack Appeals court upholds injunction blocking Trump's travel ban MORE (R-Ala.), currently its ranking member, was slated to become chairman until Sen. Mike EnziMike EnziFive takeaways from Trump's first budget proposal Eliminate Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 to create jobs Trump releases budget that slashes government programs MORE (R-Wyo.) decided to jump into the race.
 
Enzi holds more seniority on the panel because of lots they both drew when they entered the Senate in 1997. The lots said that, if they both joined the same committee in the same year, Enzi would have the upper hand. They both joined the Budget Committee in 2003.
 
Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Finance: Dems introduce minimum wage bill | Sanders clashes with Trump budget chief | Border tax proposal at death's door Sanders, Democrats introduce minimum wage bill Live coverage: Republican Gianforte wins hotly-contested Montana special election MORE (I-Vt.) was selected late last week to become the Budget panel’s ranking member next year.
 
The announced assignments weren't much of a surprise except that Sen.-elect Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoCongress should act on measure to help Medicare, small businesses Taking the easy layup: Why brain cancer patients depend on it Republicans give Trump's budget the cold shoulder MORE (R-W.Va.) did not earn a spot on the Banking Committee. She previously served on the House Financial Services panel and is an ally of the banking industry.
 
Sen.-elect Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who defeated incumbent Sen. Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Five unanswered questions after Trump's upset victory Pavlich: O’Keefe a true journalist MORE (D-La.) in the Senate runoff earlier this month, won a spot on the HELP Committee.
 
Earlier this month, Cassidy proclaimed that dismantling ObamaCare will be his top priority in the 114th Congress, which is scheduled to convene on Jan. 6.

— Vicki Needham, Kevin Cirilli and Sarah Ferris contributed.