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UPI's Capital Comment for Jan. 21, 2003

By United Press International   |   Jan. 21, 2003 at 12:22 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) -- Capital Comment -- Daily news notes, political rumors and important events that shape politics and public policy in Washington and the world from United Press International.

It takes time to get it right...

It has not been easy for the Democrats to cede power in the U.S. Senate. What had been, in years past, a pro forma matter of reorganization became bogged down as some Democrats sought to hang on to the power they had amassed after Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., left the GOP and placed them in positions of power throughout the chamber.

Some of the committee Web sites still must be brought up-to-date to reflect the changes. For example, Sen Joseph Biden, D-Del., was not, at least as of 3:00 p.m. Monday, still chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee even though the committee Web site said he was.

For the 108th Congress, the Senate committees are as follows:

Agriculture: Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman. New members: Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; Jim Talent, R-Mo.; Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.; and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.

Appropriations: Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman. New member: Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.

Armed Services: Sen. John V. Warner, R-Va., chairman. New members: Sens. John Ensign, R-Nev.; Jim Talent, R-Mo.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.; John Cornyn, R-Texas; Evan Bayh, D-Ind.; Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.;

Banking: Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman. New members: Sens. John Sununu, R-N.H.; Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C.; Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I.;

Budget: Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., chairman. New members: Sens. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Jon Ensign, R-Nev.; John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Commerce: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman. New members: Sens. John Sununu, R-N.H.; Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.

Energy and Natural Resources: Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., chairman. New members: Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Jim Talent, R-Mo.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.;

Environment and Public Works: Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman. New members: Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Craig Thomas, R-Wyo.; Wayne Allard, R-Colo.

Finance: Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman. New members: Sens. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.; Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; Gordon Smith, R-Ore.; Jim Bunning, R-Ky.

Foreign Relations: Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., chairman. New members: Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio; Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; John Sununu, R-N.H.; Jon Corzine, D-N.J.

Governmental Affairs: Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairman. New members: Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; Arlen Specter, R-Pa.; Peter Fitzgerald, R-Ill.; John Sununu, R-N.H.; Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., chairman. New members: Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Jon Ensign, R-Nev.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Judiciary: Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, chairman. New members: Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Larry Craig, R-Idaho; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.; John Cornyn, R-Texas.

Rules: Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., chairman. New members: Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; Gordon Smith, R-Ore.; Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.

Small Business: Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, chairman. New members: Sens. Norm Coleman, R-Minn.; Evan Bayh, D-Ind., Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Veterans' Affairs: Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., chairman. New members: Sens. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.; Jon Ensign, R-Nev.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.


By unanimous consent...

On Jan. 15 the U.S. Senate, by unanimous consent, approved a resolution in honor of West Virginia Democrat Robert Byrd, the former majority leader and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Resolution 21, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., expressed "The thanks of the Senate to the Honorable Robert C. Byrd for his service as President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate and to designate Senator Byrd as President Pro Tempore Emeritus of the United States Senate."

As president pro tempore, Byrd was third in the line of presidential succession after the vice president and the Speaker of the U.S. House. Though his "Emeritus" title does not involve him in the succession process it does allow for certain honors and benefits not available to other senators to be confirmed upon him.


What were they thinking?

On Monday Libya's Najat Al-Hajiaji was elected the new chairman of the 53-member nation U.N. Human Rights Commission. The move, which was opposed by the United States, caused critics to raise questions about the credibility of the United Nations and its affiliated bodies.

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, reacted angrily to the news of the Libyan's designation as chairman, saying the U.N. had "failed a major test of its credibility."

"This outrageous action will provoke even closer scrutiny of the U.N. within Congress. There's no doubt that Moammar Gadhafi's legion of Libyan victims could teach the Commission many things about the depths of human cruelty but the immoral elevation of his dictatorship to its chairmanship is utter hypocrisy," De Lay said. "We're deeply concerned that the HRC is degenerating into a protection racket for serial human rights-abusing regimes."


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