Senators poised to take on panel chairman posts of retiring Dems

Sen. Tim JohnsonTimothy (Tim) Peter JohnsonTrump faces tough path to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac overhaul Several hurt when truck runs into minimum wage protesters in Michigan Senate GOP rejects Trump’s call to go big on gun legislation MORE (D-S.D.) and Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellHillicon Valley: House passes anti-robocall bill | Senators inch forward on privacy legislation | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Illinois families sue TikTok | Senators get classified briefing on ransomware Senators urge FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats Senators inch forward on federal privacy bill MORE (D-Wash.) are poised to assume the chairmanships left vacant by retiring Sens. Chris Dodd and Byron Dorgan, Democratic aides said.

Johnson would replace Dodd (D-Conn.) at the top of Senate Banking Committee; Cantwell would take over for Dorgan (D-N.D.) on the Indian Affairs Committee.

A source close to Johnson said the lawmaker is “absolutely ready” to take over the Banking Committee, despite still struggling with the effects of a brain hemorrhage suffered in 2006.

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A senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDoctors are dying by suicide every day and we are not talking about it Impeachment trial throws curveball into 2020 race Harry Reid: Early voting states Iowa, New Hampshire 'not representative of the country anymore' MORE (D-Nev.) said in September that Johnson would take over the Banking panel if Dodd left. At the time, Dodd considered filling the chairmanship on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee left open after Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) died. But Dodd kept the top slot on Banking, and Sen. Tom HarkinThomas (Tom) Richard HarkinNew Hampshire parochialism, not whiteness, bedevils Democrats Democrats must question possible political surveillance Wisconsin lawmaker gets buzz-cut after vowing not to cut hair until sign language bill passed MORE (D-Iowa) ended up taking the HELP chairmanship.

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.), a member of the Banking Committee and Democratic leadership, also said in September that Johnson would be the next Banking chairman.

Dorgan’s surprise announcement on Tuesday that he would retire at the end of the year created the vacancy atop the Indian Affairs Committee.

The next four ranking Democrats on the panel, including Johnson, are expected to chair other committees — assuming Democrats, who effectively control 60 seats, maintain their Senate majority.

Senate Democratic Conference rules do not allow lawmakers to chair two regular committees simultaneously, putting Cantwell in line to take over Indian Affairs.

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A spokesman for Cantwell did not immediately return a request for comment.

Sens. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), and Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) chair the Appropriations, Budget and Veterans’ Affairs committees, respectively.


Jon Yoshimura, a spokesman for Akaka, said his boss feels a strong commitment to serving veterans.

“He has been on the Veterans' Affairs Committee since being elected in 1990 and he really feels a commitment to the veterans,” said Yoshimura.

Akaka believes he has a big job ahead of him as veterans return from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We’re in the midst of creating a new generation of veterans,” said Yoshimura.

Dorgan’s retirement also opens up a leadership slot. He is the chairman of the Democratic Policy Committee, a post that traditionally has served as a steppingstone to the top ranks of the Senate Democratic leadership.

Former Majority Leaders Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) served as chairmen of the committee. Reid co-chaired the panel with Daschle from 1996 to 1999.

Schumer and Sens. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Senate panel approves Trump FDA pick | Biden downplays Dem enthusiasm around 'Medicare for All' | Trump officials unveil program for free HIV prevention drugs for uninsured Trump's FDA nominee approved by Senate panel Democrats press Trump officials over drop in ObamaCare signups amid website problems MORE (D-Wash.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowGOP set for all-out battle over Michigan Senate seat Overnight Energy: EPA delays board's review of 'secret science' rules | Keystone pipeline spill affecting more land than thought | Dems seek probe into Forest Service grants tied to Alaska logging Democrats ask for investigation of Forest Service grant related to logging in Tongass National Forest MORE (D-Mich.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows to push for Paris climate goals | Senate confirms Brouillette to succeed Perry at Energy | EPA under attack from all sides over ethanol rule Pelosi: Congress has 'iron-clad' commitment to climate crisis MORE (D-R.I.) are all potential candidates for the Policy Committee.
 
The retirements of Dodd and Dorgan will open seats on the Appropriations, Banking, Commerce, Energy, Foreign Relations and HELP committees.

It is too early to say who may fill their positions on those panels. Democrats may lose committee seats depending on the results of this year’s election, which may also rearrange seniority in the chamber depending on who wins reelection.