California’s two U.S. senators have been named to powerful chairmanships.
Per the New York Times political blog, Sen. Barbara Boxer will become chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works while Sen. Dianne Feinstein will lead the Rules Committee.
Here’s the text of Feinstein’s press release that arrived in my e-mail just minutes ago:
Washington, DC – In the wake of the Democratic takeover of the United States Senate, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein is poised to become the first woman Chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
Senator Feinstein will also retain her membership on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Senate Appropriations Committee, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Democratic committee assignments for the 110th Congress were made today and will go into effect when the new Congress begins in January.
The Senate Rules and Administration Committee
“I look forward to taking the reins of this important committee and working with the ranking
member in a bipartisan way on an agenda of reform,” Senator Feinstein said. “My top two priorities will be ethics reform and election reform. We’ve got to address the gross misconduct and influence peddling that surfaced in such a serious way in the last Congress and ensure every American citizen’s vote is counted in a fair and accurate manner.”
On ethics reform, Senator Feinstein plans to move ahead with a comprehensive bill that:
Closes the revolving door, toughens public disclosure of lobbyist activity;
Bans lobbyist gift and travel;
Shuts down ‘pay-to-play’ schemes like the ‘K-Street Project;’
Helps ensure that earmarks are not added in the dead of night without full scrutiny from the House or Senate;
Requires all earmarks to be publicly disclosed.
On election reform, Senator Feinstein plans to introduce legislation to help ensure the accuracy of future federal elections by requiring that electronic voting machines print a paper record which can be verified by the voter and is subject to an independent audit to help ensure that the machines are secure from error.
The Senate Judiciary Committee
“It is my hope that under Senator Leahy’s leadership we will be able to move forward on many
critical measures, including a gang bill, comprehensive identity theft legislation, and a bill to ensure that FISA remains the exclusive authority for domestic surveillance of U.S. persons,” Senator Feinstein said.
Senator Feinstein is expected to chair the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security. In this capacity, she will have the ability to work on her priorities and make sure that the government has the tools it needs to fight the war on terrorism and protect Americans from identity theft.
She intends to convene a series of oversight hearings examining how technology and human resources can be better used in the war against terror. Additionally, she will continue her work to give a federal hand of assistance to communities fighting gang violence, ensuring that the agriculture industry has the workers it needs, and protecting the intellectual property rights of artists and inventors.
The Senate Intelligence Committee
“I look forward to a Committee that will conduct detailed reviews and ask pointed questions to
make sure that the Director of National Intelligence is implementing the necessary intelligence reform. Senator Feinstein said. “Changes begun in the wake of intelligence failures on September 11 and prior to the Iraq War must be completed.”
Senator Feinstein’s top priority will be to invigorate Congressional oversight over the 16 agencies
that make up the U.S. Intelligence Committee.
Senate Appropriations Committee
“I will continue to fight for California’s fair share,” Senator Feinstein said. “California is a donor
state, providing more in taxes than we receive back. So I will work to fund our State’s priorities
including for rebuilding levees, keeping our nation’s streets safe, and reimbursing local communities for the cost of incarcerating criminal aliens.”
Senator Feinstein’s top funding priorities for the Appropriations Committee include:
Increased funding for the National Institutes of Health, specifically the National Cancer Institute;
Increased funding for college preparatory programs, and increasing the maximum Pell Grant loan amount to offset the escalating cost of college;
Restoring and rebuilding California’s aging levee system;
Protecting and promoting California agriculture through the programs like the Specialty Crop Block Grant program;
Providing the State and localities reimbursement for incarcerating criminal aliens through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program;
Restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through the CalFed Program; and cleaning up perchlorate in municipal water supplies.