The Hill reported today that Senator Chuck Grassley has reached an agreement with his colleague Jeff Sessions of Alabama:
Under terms of the deal, Sessions will serve as ranking member [of the Senate Judiciary Committee] until the 112th Congress, when he will take over the ranking member post on the Senate Budget Committee. Current Budget Committee ranking member Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) is retiring at the end of the 111th Congress.
Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, will then become ranking member on the Judiciary Committee.
It’s a good deal for Grassley. Even though the Judiciary Committee will consider at least one Supreme Court nominee before 2011, the Senate Finance Committee will help write important health care and tax legislation this year.
The ranking member position at Judiciary became open when Senator Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party last week.
I’m not sure it’s good for the Republican Party to have Sessions as their public face during confirmation hearings. In 1986 the Senate Judiciary Committee declined to confirm him as a U.S. district court judge for various reasons. But if they want to reinforce their image as a regional party for white southerners, that’s ok by me.
UPDATE: Like Chase Martyn at Iowa Independent, I neglected to mention that Grassley faces re-election in 2010. I’m sorry to say that I see little prospect of him losing any election in Iowa. In any event, the deal he struck with Sessions removes any doubt about whether Grassley plans to retire before the next election. No chance with a crack at being ranking member of Judiciary beginning in 2011.
For a long time my money’s been on Grassley retiring in 2016, when his grandson, State Representative Pat Grassley, will be old enough to run for the U.S. Senate.