Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) is expected to take control of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee next year, thanks to the retirement of current Chairman Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).
Although in the past, retirements, deaths or party defections have set off a round of jockeying for chairmanships, Senate Democrats said that no palace intrigue is expected to take place with the Banking panel.
The Senator is next in line and is certainly up to the task, Johnson spokeswoman Julianne Fisher said Wednesday, adding that, He has the confidence of the Majority Leader and of his colleagues on the committee.
Johnson is still recovering from a brain aneurysm he suffered in 2006. He still suffers from some lingering effects his speech is somewhat impaired and he uses a motorized scooter or cane to get around Johnson maintains a normal Senate schedule and rarely misses votes or committee activities.
Democratic aides have said that when it appeared Dodd may take control of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this summer following the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) gave Johnson reassurances he would take control of Banking. That move was put on ice, however, when Dodd decided to stay put and not swap Banking for HELP.
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Meanwhile, the retirement of Senate Democratic Policy Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan (N.D.) will likely mean at least one open leadership slot and the chairmanship of the Indian Affairs Committee.
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) is next in line behind Dorgan on that panel, but he already chairs the Appropriations Committee and is unlikely to give that up to move to the less powerful Indian Affairs Committee. Behind Inouye are Democratic Sens. Kent Conrad (N.D.), Daniel Akaka (Hawaii) and Johnson, all of whom hold chairmanships already or in the case of Johnson are likely to claim a gavel next year. That means the next in seniority, Sen. Maria Cantwell (Wash.) whose state is home to a sizable Native American population is likely to take over at Indian Affairs.
In a statement released by his office Wednesday, Johnson called Dodd a friend and dedicated public servant. But in a not-so-veiled reference to his own qualifications to take over the committee, Johnson also pointedly mentioned his work as the Banking panels de facto chairman during much of the past year when Dodd was preoccupied with health care reform.
I have always enjoyed working with Chris on the Senate Banking Committee, and was happy to fill in when and where I was needed over these last several months as he worked double duty on both health care reform and financial services regulatory modernization, Johnson said.