(CNN) - High-ranking Democratic senators may shift committees following the death Monday of longtime Sen. Daniel Inouye, who chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
The senior Democrat on the spending panel is considering taking over as chairman, a Democratic source said. Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont currently chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position he would have to give up if he took over Appropriations. If he does, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, currently the chairwoman of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee is poised to take over the Judiciary panel, another Democratic aide said. The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over gun control laws, an issue Feinstein has championed.
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It wasn't immediately clear who would take over as chair of the Intelligence Committee if Feinstein moves.
Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid was expected to announce the change Tuesday but held off because Leahy is still weighing whether to leave Judiciary.
Both Leahy and Feinstein are closely associated with the committees they chair currently. Leahy, who has headed the Judiciary panel since 2007, has overseen the confirmation hearings for hundreds of judicial nominations, including for current Supreme Court associate justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. As a member of the Senate he's voted on every current justice on the high court.
With Inouye's death, Leahy also became the most senior Democratic senator, meaning he assumes the role of president pro tempore in the Senate. The constitutional designation means he's third in line to the presidency, after Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner. Biden officially swore Leahy in as president pro tempore Tuesday.
Feinstein has been the face of the Senate's intelligence oversight operation since 2009, when she took over the chairmanship of the committee. Most recently she has pushed for more information from the FBI on the scandal ensnaring former CIA director David Petraeus.
Gotta say, I can't think of any better suited for Intelligence chair than Mikulski. hope she's considered.
I didn't know that Congress could move so fast on anything. I guess when it comes to securing their jobs, they then do something for their own interest.
Medal of Honor citation:
"SECOND LIEUTENANT DANIEL K. INOUYE, UNITED STATES ARMY, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army."
TERM LIMITS, please!!!!