Senator Chuck Grassley will become ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January, Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times reported on November 11. Grassley and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama made a deal in May 2009 to let Sessions be ranking member on Judiciary temporarily. The position became open when Arlen Specter switched to the Democratic Party, but Grassley (who is senior to Sessions) wanted to remain the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee through the end of 2010. Sessions is now expected to become ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee. The GOP Senate caucus term-limits its committee chairs and ranking members.
Speaking to Tibbetts on November 10, Grassley said,
"I would hope to be doing roughly the same things on health care in the Judiciary Committee as I did in the Finance Committee," he said.
Grassley has been a tenacious investigator of the Food and Drug Administration and the pharmaceutical industry. He also said he would remain active overseeing nonprofits.
Grassley said fraud-related issues are squarely within the Judiciary Committee's jurisdiction.
Also, the New Hartford Republican has a history of casting a wide net in his oversight activities. In the 1980s, Grassley targeted waste in the Pentagon budget while he sat on a subcommittee of Judiciary, not a Defense-related panel.
In his new role, Grassley will be a more prominent figure in battles over confirming President Barack Obama's judicial nominees as well.
Over in the U.S. House, Steve King (IA-05) is set to become chairman of the Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on immigration. He has been ranking member on that subcommittee since 2007. John Deeth notes that a Hispanic Republican group based in the southwest is objecting due to King's use of "defamatory language that is extremely offensive to Hispanics." Good luck getting the House Republican caucus to care, even if Latino voters did swing last week's elections to Democrats in Colorado, Nevada and California.