Far Right Sen. Sessions To Take Over For Specter On Judiciary Committee…For Now

May 4, 2009 7:25 a.m.

In a grand bargain of sorts for Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) will take over as ranking member on the Judiciary Committee for the remainder of this Congress, and give way in 2011 to the Iowa Republican. According to The Hill, Sessions “will take over the ranking member position on the Senate Judiciary Committee after striking a deal with his more senior colleagues over the weekend.”

Under terms of the deal, Sessions will serve as ranking member 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–who’s senior to Sessions–will be forced to abdicate his seat as ranking member of the Finance Committee when he comes up against term limits in the 111th Congress. He’s stated in the past that he’d prefer to become the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee than on the Budget Committee, but before today’s deal, it looked like he’d have to choose between taking over for Specter on Judiciary Committee now, or taking over for Gregg on the Budget Committee next Congress.Sessions’ compromise assures that Grassley will get the placement he wants, when he wants it. That’ll be welcome news for conservatives who couldn’t have asked for a farther-right senator to oppose President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee at the committee level. It’ll also please health reformers (at least for the time being) who were worried that Grassley would give way on the Finance Committee to industry-connected Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) just as that panel takes up comprehensive health reform legislation.

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