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Lankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman

Lankford to be named next Senate Ethics chairman
© Greg Nash

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordPolice reform negotiations enter crucial stretch GOP turns against Jan. 6 probe as midterm distraction The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden wants Congress to pass abortion bill, pushes for Mideast cease-fire MORE (R-Okla.) will be the next chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to The Hill.

The panel's current chairman, Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler group targets Democrats with billboards around baseball stadium Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Five big takeaways on Georgia's new election law MORE (R-Ga.), is set to retire next year, creating a vacancy atop the panel that is responsible for enforcing standards of behavior for senators and their staffs and investigating potential violations of federal law or the Senate’s rules.

The decision about who to name chairman of the committee rests with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWhat the Democrats should be doing to reach true bipartisanship Democrats mull overhaul of sweeping election bill McConnell seeks to divide and conquer Democrats MORE (R-Ky.). The Senate Republican Conference is expected to vote next week to formally ratify the decision, the source told The Hill. 

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Spokespeople for Lankford declined to comment, saying they didn't want to get ahead of an announcement from McConnell. Politico was first to report the decision. 

The six-member panel has had high-profile investigations in recent years, including in 2018 when it “severely admonished” Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezSanders drops bid to block Biden's Israel arms sale Sanders push to block arms sale to Israel doomed in Senate Schumer tactics on China bill reveal broader trade strategy MORE (D-N.J.) in a public letter, saying he had broken Senate rules, federal law and "applicable standards of conduct."   

The committee also opened an investigation in 2017 into then-Sen. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenDemocrats, GOP face crowded primaries as party leaders lose control Gillibrand: 'I definitely want to run for president again' Maher chides Democrats: We 'suck the fun out of everything' MORE (D-Minn.), who ultimately resigned facing several allegations of sexual misconduct and unwanted touching. 

The responsibility for investigating your own colleagues made leading the Senate Ethics Committee an unattractive post for several GOP senators.  

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Citizens' Climate Lobby - Biden floats infrastructure, tax concessions to GOP Overnight Defense: Pentagon pitches 5B budget | Kamala Harris addresses US Naval Academy graduates Pentagon pitches 5B budget with cuts to older weapons MORE (R-Okla.) told The Hill that he would "rather have a root canal" than lead the committee. 

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The two other Republican senators currently on the panel, Sens. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsSenate GOP faces retirement brain drain Roy Blunt won't run for Senate seat in 2022 Lobbying world MORE (R-Kan.) and Jim RischJim Elroy RischGOP senators introduce bill to make Iran deal subject to Senate approval US, Iran nuclear talks to resume this weekend House Democrats press key GOP senator to release hold on aid to Palestinians MORE (R-Idaho), also indicated to The Hill that they were not interested in chairing the committee. 

“I’ve been on the damn committee for now, what, 22 years? It’s a Senate record. Everybody else gets on and gets off, and they won’t let me get off,” Roberts said. 

Risch said, “I can only tell you that I sure hope not.”