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Chairmanship of Prestigious Appropriations Committee

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With the passing of Senator Daniel Inouye on Monday, the leadership atop the Senate (Pro Tempore) as well as the Chairmanship of the highly influential Appropriations Committee were vacated and had to be filled.  Conventional wisdom early in the week was that Sen. Patrick Leahy would ascend to both the number three position in succession to the President and would also give up his gavel as presiding Chairman of the Judiciary Committee to take over the committee with jurisdiction over all federal spending.  This would have a cascading effect which would provide Senator Diane Feinstein with the ability to give up her current Chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee to take the vacated Judiciary slot, leaving the Intelligence Committee Chair open to Sen. Barbara Mikulski.
 
So much for conventional wisdom…
 
Yesterday afternoon, Sen. Leahy announced that he would not seek the Chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee, and would remain Judiciary Chair in the 113th Congress as that committee attempts to tackle high profile issues including gun control and immigration.  This announcement immediately stymied the potential changes for Senators Feinstein and Mikulski, and left open the leadership on Approps to the next most senior member – Tom Harkin.
 
But in a surprising, and highly important announcement, Sen. Harkin expressed his desire to pass up the Full Appropriations Committee Chairmanship, in order to maintain his position as the head of the HELP Committee and the Subcommittee Appropriations Chairmanship responsible for Labor, HHS, and Education funding.  As noted from the quote below, Sen. Harkin's reasons for passing up the position include his desire to continue to pursue education reform.
 
Ultimately this decision provided an opportunity for Senator Mikulski to ascend to the top slot on Appropriations, becoming the first woman to lead the Committee.
 
It should be apparent the implications of the decision Senator Harkin made to pass up this highly coveted position…