According to an estimate compiled for the Loop by LegiStorm, those committees with new GOP leaders employ 236 GOP staffers who could be looking for work.
That’s just part of the rough-and-tumble ecosystem on Capitol Hill, where Republican term limits enacted in 1997 have meant more staff turnover in the past decade, sometimes in spikes like this one. Often, the new boss’s agenda may be much different from his predecessor’s, or he simply arrives with a coterie of aides with whom he’s already comfortable.
No one said regime change was easy.
On many committees, the new ranking minority-party member is cleaning house. At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) has informed the panel’s professional staffers — who had worked under Richard Lugar (Ind.) — that all but three of the nearly 20 GOP aides will be let go. And those three may only be kept on temporarily, we hear.
On the Environment and Public Works panel, Sen. David Vitter (La.) kept only two staffers who had worked for his predecessor, Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.). Inhofe, in turn, is retaining only a small handful of those who worked on the committee whose gavel he now holds, Armed Services, under the previous ranking Republican, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
There’s movement elsewhere, too. On the House side, there are six new committee chairmen, meaning some staffers there are on the market. And Democrats can expect some churn, as well, though on a far smaller scale, since there’s less turnover among their Senate chairmen and House rankers.
It’s a jungle out there.
It’s conventional wisdom that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) will sail through the confirmation process to be secretary of state — though the Loop prefers the image of him windsurfing through the smooth waters of the Senate, since he famously enjoys that sport.
Still, there’s one tiny, procedural hiccup.
Seems some Senate committees have not yet been officially ratified for this Congress. That means that the new Senate Foreign Relations Committee can’t vote on Kerry — though the panel held a hearing on his nomination Thursday — until the Senate formally recognizes the committee.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who will take over the gavel from Kerry once the Massachusetts Democrat resigns the Senate to take the fancy new job, had to ask permission at the start of the Thursday hearing for the new committee members (including Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul) to even take part in the proceedings, since they hadn’t officially joined the panel.
That’s typically a routine housekeeping matter, but it appears to be caught up in an unrelated debate, with sources saying it might wait until the debate over filibuster reform is settled.