Chandler Given Two of His Three Panel Requests

Posted March 24, 2004 at 6:18pm

With the help of two Members who agreed to give up panel assignments, House leaders on Wednesday named newly elected Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) to the International Relations, Homeland Security and Agriculture committees.

Chandler, whose special election victory is viewed by House Democrats as much-needed momentum heading into November, had sought slots on Appropriations, International Relations and Agriculture.

One Democratic opening already existed on Homeland Security, while fellow Kentucky Rep. Ken Lucas agreed to waive his slot on Agriculture, and recently defeated Rep. Chris Bell (Texas) stepped off International Relations to make room for Chandler.

The Steering and Policy Committee, which oversees committee assignments, approved Chandler’s positions Wednesday night.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) had been looking to reward her newest Caucus member with plum committee assignments following his win in last month’s special election in Kentucky’s 6th district. His victory marks the first time in 13 years that a Democrat has won a Republican-held seat in a special election.

But with few slots available mid-cycle, Pelosi had been circling her Caucus to see if anyone would be willing to take a leave. Beyond Homeland Security, openings only existed on the Government Reform, Small Business and Science committees.

While Chandler, who succeeded Republican Rep. Ernie Fletcher, had asked for an Appropriations seat as well, freshmen rarely if ever get a position on a powerful “exclusive committee.”

“Ben Chandler has a proud record of fighting for the security and prosperity of the American people, and I know that he will serve with great distinction on the Homeland Security, Agriculture and International Relations committees as he continues his outstanding leadership on behalf of the people of Kentucky,” Pelosi said.