D.C. Update: Hearing on Haaland Nomination; Committee Leadership Changes

Feb 18, 2021 | News

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced a hearing on the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) to be the Secretary of the Interior. The hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. Eastern on Feb. 23, and it will be webcast here: https://www.energy.senate.gov/home 

Meanwhile, the Senate is finally getting organized for the 117th Congress. On Feb. 3, 2021, Senate Democrats and Republicans reached a power-sharing agreement for the evenly divided 50-50 Senate. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) held up negotiations, seeking a commitment that Democrats would not eliminate the filibuster. When Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) indicated that they supported keeping the filibuster, McConnell finally agreed.  

With a power-sharing agreement in place, Senate Democrats finally assumed leadership over committees. Last week, committees held brief meetings to adopt rules and elect their chairs and ranking members — or, in the case of the Indian Affairs Committee, elect their vice chair. Some committee rosters may take another week to complete.

The new chair of the Indian Affairs Committee is Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI).  Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) will serve as the vice chair. New Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) also joined the committee.

In other Senate committee news, Sen. Manchin will chair the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) will serve as the ranking member, and new Sens. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and John Hickenlooper (D-CO) were assigned to the committee. In addition, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) became the first woman to chair the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

There are also committee leadership changes in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House Natural Resources Committee held its organizing meeting on Feb. 18; Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) will continue as chair, and the new ranking member will be Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR). The Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples will be led by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM), and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) will be the ranking member.

In other important House committee news: Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will take over the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN).

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