Republicans to lead Senate ag committee

by Jay Sjerven
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WASHINGTON — With the Republicans taking control of the Senate, the leadership and composition of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry will change in favor of that party. At the same time, there likely will be many familiar faces on both sides of the committee aisle during the next session.

Currently there are 11 Democrats and 9 Republicans on the Senate agriculture committee. The majority on the committee in the next session of Congress will shift to the Republicans. Committee assignments were yet to be determined.

The ranking member on the agriculture committee, Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi, won his bid for reelection and may be selected as committee chairman in the new Congress. Republicans also winning their bids for reelection were Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the current Senate Minority Leader, and Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas.

Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Sen. Mike Johanns of Nebraska earlier in the year announced they would retire and did not stand for reelection. Each was succeeded by a Republican, Ben Sasse in Nebraska and David Perdue in Georgia.

Republican committee members who were in the middle of their terms included John Boozman of Arkansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota.

On the Democratic side, there were two notable changes relating to the agriculture committee. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, a former chairman of the committee, will retire at the end of the current session and did not stand for reelection. Sen. Harkin’s seat was taken by Republican Joni Ernst, who defeated Democrat Bruce Braley. And Sen. John Walsh of Montana was defeated in his election contest by Republican Steve Daines. Sen. Walsh was the only member of the agriculture committee, Democrat or Republican, to be defeated.

Democratic members of the committee who were in the middle of their terms included Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the current chairwoman of the committee, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a former chairman of the committee, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Robert P. Casey, Jr., of Pennsylvania.
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