A Peek Into the Senate Chairmen in New GOP Majority

Grassley played a major role in trying to block Obama’s judicial appointments in his role as the panel’s ranking member. It was that strategy that led Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, to change the chamber’s rules and prohibit filibusters against judicial nominees, save for U.S. Supreme Court appointments.

As chair, he can simply opt not to schedule votes on nominees. He has expressed a desire to implement some sort of district realignment and has specifically opposed approving appointments to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

There are others. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is positioned to became chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. It was questioning from Johnson on Benghazi that led former Secretary of State and potential 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to famously respond, “What difference does it make?”

And it’s likely that Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) will make his mark as the new chair of the Senate Budget Committee.

Regarding other slots, it’s clear that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) will chair the Senate Finance Committee and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) will assume control of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee likely will be handed to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), although he may instead opt to take the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. In that case, the job will probably go to Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho).

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who supports “significantly increasing energy production in Alaska,” including parts of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a move that has drawn strong opposition from environmental interests, likely will take over the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee from Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).