U.S. Sen. Jack Reed will give up his chairmanship of a finance-focused subcommittee to comply with Senate Democrats’ rule barring any member from having more than two coveted committee gavels, WPRI.com has learned.
Reed’s office said he’ll remain on the Senate Banking Committee but will no longer chair its Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment, which he’s led since Democrats took control of the Senate in 2007.
Reed was one of the few senators who chaired three subcommittees, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid recently moved to enforce a caucus rule that limits Democratic senators to two. Reed opted to give up his gavel on the banking panel in order to remain chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment.
“Leading an Appropriations panel and the Seapower subcommittee are vital to delivering for Rhode Island,” Reed told WPRI.com in a statement. “My service on the Appropriations Committee offers broad opportunities to secure federal funding for our state and my work on the Seapower subcommittee allows me to help Rhode Island’s defense industry, which is important to our local economy and our national defense.”
The Democratic caucus has given Reed and a few other senators a special waiver that allows them to serve on two of the so-called “Super A” committees – in Reed’s case, Appropriations and Armed Services. Though Reed is widely expected to become chairman of Senate Armed Services if Michigan Sen. Carl Levin retires next year, he said the decision about his subcommittee isn’t a sign he’s setting banking issues aside.
“I will continue to be active on all three committees, but giving less senior members a chance to make a more meaningful contribution at the subcommittee level will strengthen our caucus,” Reed said. It’s unclear who’ll take over the Securities, Insurance, and Investment subcommittee, but Montana Sen. Jon Tester and New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez are contenders.
Reed, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 after three terms in the U.S. House, now ranks 22nd in seniority in the Senate and 14th in seniority among Senate Democrats. He’s the No. 2 Democrat on the Armed Services and Banking committees and ranks 10th on Appropriations.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson, D-South Dakota, released a statement calling Reed “a valuable member of the Senate Banking Committee.”
“He is committed to growing the economy, protecting consumers and investors, and a champion of affordable housing and public transportation,” Johnson said. “Senator Reed is the most senior Democrat on the Banking Committee after me, and I know he will remain an active member whose contributions I value highly.”
Johnson, like Levin, is up for re-election next year but hasn’t said if he’ll run for another six-year term. Reed has said he’ll definitely run again next year, and a recent Public Policy Polling survey showed him with a huge lead over his hypothetical opponents.
• Related: Reed, Whitehouse won’t switch Senate committees next year (Dec. 12)