Leahy says he’ll have stronger hand over US foreign aid

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“I especially look forward to helping [Sen.] John Kerry [D-Mass.] in the new role I expect him to assume as our next Secretary of State. These are uncertain times, requiring steady hands at the tiller. From Afghanistan, Iran and Syria to the Horn of Africa and the Far East, the need for clear-eyed U.S. leadership and responsiveness has never been greater.”

Leahy says he expects “deference” on his priorities now that he's the senior Democrat.

“I realized I could have the best of all possible worlds,” Vermont Public Radio quoted him as saying about his decision to turn down the chairmanship. “I'd be the senior-most person on Appropriations, which means that everybody knows I could take the chairmanship if I wanted. So I really get deference to issues of my concern. But I'm also chairman of Judiciary, which handles so many issues that that affect all Americans.”

Leahy clashed with the Obama administration last year over military funding for Egypt, which the Vermont senator wanted to restrict because of his concern over that country's democratic transition after the Arab Spring.