The New Majority
Senate Committee Staff Directors Set Session Agenda
There is a whole new lineup of committee staff directors as the Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate next week. They all bring long years of service and expertise to highly demanding jobs, and they will be working for Democratic chairmen who have vowed to provide close scrutiny of the Bush administration and its handling of domestic policies and the war in Iraq. Here is a sampling of the staff directors of major Senate committees:
Terrence E. Sauvain, 66, graduated from the University of Notre Dame and received a master's degree from George Washington University. A Cleveland native, Sauvain started his public service career in 1965 as a budget analyst for the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. He joined the Appropriations Committee in 1973. He has worked as the majority staff director once before, between 2001 and 2003.
Sauvain and his wife, Veronica, have three children. He was awarded the University of Notre Dame's 2006 Rev. John J. Cavanaugh Award, presented annually to one of its alumni for accomplishment in public service.
Richard D. DeBobes, the staff director-designate, is a veteran: 26 years in the Navy Judge Advocate General's Corps, attaining the rank of captain, and 18 for the Armed Services committee -- the last three as the top staffer for the incoming chairman, Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.).
The spotlight will be on the committee, not only because it will focus on Iraq, but also because it includes two likely presidential candidates: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and the ranking Republican, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).
The committee is known for its bipartisanship and, DeBobes said, "there's no reason for that not to continue."
Still, that atmosphere may become strained. DeBobes, 68, is putting together a new three-person investigative team to challenge the administration on detainee treatment.
Mary Naylor comes to her new post from the office of Democratic staff director, where she has served since 2001, when Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.) became ranking Democrat. Before that, Naylor served as Conrad's deputy chief of staff.
When these profiles were compiled, staffers said Naylor was battling through the snow en route to her hometown of Fargo, N.D., for the holidays.
Naylor, 39, graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in political science. She began work in Conrad's office in 1989, and she served there for three years before embarking on a two-year stint on the staff of former senator Paul Simon (D-Ill.). Then, in 1993, it was back to Conrad's office, where she served as a senior legislative assistant before becoming deputy chief of staff in 1999. She became minority staff director of the Budget Committee two years later.
Environment and Public Works
Bettina Poirier, the first woman to serve as staff director and chief counsel for the committee, has a work history that has placed her in touch with many of the stakeholders in environmental regulation. An environmental lawyer for nearly two decades, she has served for the past six years as senior counsel to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) working on environmental and agriculture issues.
Boxer has said "her focus will be on . . . global warming issues," Poirier said. "We'll be making sure that issue gets a lot of hearings and plenty of discussion so we can look for solutions that come with a lot of benefits" to local economies, providers of technology and labor for efforts to combat the problem.