Sheldon Whitehouse gets seat on Senate Finance Committee

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Roy Moore’s loss is Sheldon Whitehouse’s gain.

A reshuffle of committee assignments following Democrats’ surprise win in last month’s Alabama Senate election resulted Tuesday in Rhode Island’s junior senator being given a coveted seat on the Senate Finance Committee. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the move.

The appointment means Rhode Island now has representation on all three of the panels identified by Senate Democrats as the so-called “Super A” top committees – Appropriations, Armed Services and Finance. Jack Reed, Rhode Island’s senior senator, is the top Democrat on Armed Services and has a waiver to also serve on Appropriations.

“I thank Senator Schumer for his confidence in me,” Whitehouse said in a statement, adding that he plans to focus his committee work on “protecting Social Security and Medicare,” “making our tax code fairer,” “improving how we deliver health care” and “battling climate change.”

“This is good news for Rhode Island,” Reed said in a statement. “Senator Whitehouse is following in the footsteps of the late Senator John Chafee, who used his seat on Finance for the betterment of Rhode Islanders when it came to health care, tax policy, and trade.”

Whitehouse is giving up his seats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Special Committee on Aging. He continues to serve on three others: Judiciary, Environment and Public Works, and Budget.

Not everyone praised the move. State Rep. Bobby Nardolillo, who is seeking the Republican nomination against Whitehouse for this November’s election, tweeted: “Because being fiscally responsible is in his wheelhouse? Nah, sounds more like @SenSchumer offering Sheldon a last ditch opportunity to show some leadership. And another opportunity for RI to watch him on TV looking like a fool.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook