Reed, Whitehouse won’t switch Senate committees next year

The U.S. Senate’s biannual committee shuffle is over, and Rhode Island’s two senators are staying put.

Jack Reed will continue to serve on the same three committees when the new session starts in January, and Sheldon Whitehouse will continue to serve on the same five, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced Wednesday.

Seniority is the coin of the realm in the U.S. Senate, and Rhode Island’s senators continue to move up the ladder. Reed ranked 33rd overall during the current Congress, and Whitehouse ranked 67th – up from 99th when he was first sworn in almost six years ago.

Reed is on fewer committees than other lawmakers because his three assignments are coveted ones: the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Banking Committee.

Reed ranks second by seniority on both the Armed Services and Banking committees, which puts him next in line for the chairmanship of both panels. The current chairmen – Michigan’s Carl Levin and South Dakota’s Tim Johnson – are both up for re-election in 2014 and haven’t decided whether to run again. If both chairmanships became available and he had to choose one, he’d likely pick Armed Services.

Whitehouse serves on four standing Senate committees: the Environment and Public Works Committee; the Judiciary Committee; the Budget Committee; and the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, where he replaced Reed last year. Whitehouse also serves on the Special Committee on Aging, which has no legislative authority.

While neither senator has the chairman’s gavel for a full committee yet, they lead multiple subcommittees.

Reed is chairman of three: the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies; the Banking Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment; and the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower.

Whitehouse is chairman of two: the Environment & Public Works Subcommittee on Oversight and the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

Massachusetts Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren was assigned to three committees. She’ll serve on one with Reed (Banking) and two with Whitehouse (Health, Education, Labor & Pensions and Aging). Reed had pushed for Warren’s appointment to Banking despite industry opposition.

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