Reed’s Committee Leadership Assignments for 117th Congress Enhance RI’s Clout
WASHINGTON, DC -- After securing the Chairmanship of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today announced the rest of his committee and subcommittee assignments for the 117th Congress.
With two new gavels, Reed is well-positioned to increase Rhode Island’s influence over the U.S. Armed Forces while retaining influence over federal spending decisions through appropriations.
Once again, Senator Reed, a West Point graduate, will serve on four ‘A’ committees: Armed Services; Appropriations; Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which include two of the three ‘Super A’ Committees: Armed Services and Appropriations.
Senator Reed’s seniority and committee posts will help him play an outsized role on economic, housing, and infrastructure issues, as well as national security and U.S. intelligence. And being in the majority, and having former colleagues President Joe Biden and Kamala Harris leading the Executive Branch, ensures Rhode Island’s priorities will be heard at the highest levels.
“I’ve always been a multi-tasker. That is the nature of the job. My committee assignments allow me to deliver results for Rhode Island, help safeguard the nation, and build a brighter future for all Americans,” said Reed. “I am assigned to these committees, but really these seats and gavels belong to the people of Rhode Island. I will do everything in my power and leverage my seniority to ensure their needs are met and ensure Rhode Island receives its fair share of federal funding. I will continue to be a relentless advocate for the state and focus on the issues that Rhode Islanders care about, including COVID-19 relief and health care, education, environmental protection, housing, infrastructure and innovation, and expanding economic opportunity. We are at a critical moment. We must act urgently, cut through all the noise and gridlock, and invest wisely to help save lives, create jobs, and uplift communities.”
ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
Senator Reed is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), all military services operating within the domains of land, sea, air, cyberspace, and space, and all DOD agencies, including their budgets and policies, and national security aspects of nuclear energy. Each year, SASC is tasked with producing and passing the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Last year’s defense budget topped $740 billion. Chairman Reed has already stressed that: “This year will mark an inflection point in how the Department of Defense prioritizes resources it needs to accomplish its missions.” Reed has noted the federal government does not have unlimited defense dollars and is making it his mission to strengthen U.S. Armed Forces and alliances while better aligning our federal defense resources with the important national security challenges ahead.
The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest federal agency and the nation’s largest employer, with nearly 1.4 million active duty service members, and a total of about 2.9 million service members and civilians, including National Guard and Reserve service members. The U.S. Armed Forces is comprised of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, and Coast Guard. The Army National Guard and the Air National Guard are reserve components of their services and operate in part under state authority.
In addition to chairing the Armed Services Committee, Reed is also a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which provides him with additional oversight responsibilities in determining how defense dollars are spent.
Senator Reed is the first Democrat to lead SASC since 2015, when his former colleague U.S. Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) helmed the committee. And he is the first Rhode Islander to ever lead the panel.
In addition to his new role as Chairman of SASC, Senator Reed will continue to serve as Rhode Island’s only member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, which controls the funding of the federal government. Senator Reed, the fifth most senior member of the Appropriations Committee, has been described by the Boston Globe as “a relentless advocate for his home state.” He works tirelessly to direct federal funding to the Ocean State to create jobs, strengthen infrastructure, and support economic and community development initiatives. Senator Reed, due to a caucus rules change that changed the subcommittee process, will remain an Appropriations “cardinal,” as the new Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch. This subcommittee funds the operations of both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, as well as the support agencies of Congress, including the U.S. Capitol Police, Architect of the Capitol, Library of Congress, Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Government Accountability Office (GAO), and several other smaller federal support agencies. The subcommittee appropriates funds necessary for Congress to independently perform its legislative and oversight roles and make its work accessible to the American people. The subcommittee will take on added importance in the coming Congress as it considers changes to the Capitol’s security posture in the wake of the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol by extremist pro-Trump supporters.
Additionally, Senator Reed will serve on six of the most prominent Appropriations Subcommittees, and is the only Democrat on the panel to hold seven subcommittee assignments: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS); Defense; Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies; Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H); Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA); and Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD).
BANKING, HOUSING & URBAN AFFAIRS
A champion of consumer protection, affordable housing, and mass-transit, Senator Reed will continue serving as a key member of the Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committee, which has broad oversight over our nation’s financial institutions, capital markets, consumer finance, monetary policy, and housing and mass transit programs. Senator Reed is the most senior Democratic member of the panel, but Senate rules dictate that members may only Chair one full committee at a time.
Senator Reed has used his Banking Committee post to author Wall Street reform and consumer protection laws, including his ‘warrants law’ which has helped save taxpayers almost $10 billion dollars. He also successfully urged the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to focus greater attention on climate risk disclosures for public companies. The committee also oversees federal housing policy and authorizes mass-transit investments, and Senator Reed’s work on the committee led to the creation of two new affordable housing funds: the Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund.
It was Senator Reed’s senior leadership on the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, coupled with his work on the Appropriations Committee, that earned him a spot as one of twenty members of the bipartisan working group that was tasked with developing the CARES Act (Public Law No. 116-136). Senator Reed was the driving force behind the successful effort to create the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) in the CARES Act and successfully secured a small state minimum of $1.25 billion in the law. Senator Reed continues to play an active role in pushing legislation to direct additional federal funds states and local governments to help save lives and address the economic impact caused by the pandemic.
As America faces an affordable housing crisis, which has been worsened by the pandemic, Senator Reed will play a key role in providing relief for renters and homeowners, and helping to revitalize communities by expanding the supply of affordable housing options. Reed will also use his seat on this committee to boost mass-transit infrastructure and help connect communities, and more Americans, to jobs and opportunities. Joining Senator Reed on the Banking Committee this Congress will be two new freshmen members who made the Senate Democratic majority possible: Georgia Democrats U.S. Senators John Ossoff (D-GA) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA).
Given his Chairmanship of Armed Services, Reed is also an ex officio member of the high-profile Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which oversees the U.S. Intelligence Community. As an ex officio member of the committee, Senator Reed regularly participates in all open and closed-door briefings and hearings with top intelligence officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the National Security Agency (NSA), but he does not vote in committee. Senator Reed says he expects the Intelligence Committee to play an important role in the coming year investigating cyber-espionage, the threat of extremist groups in the United States and their ties to foreign powers, and disinformation campaigns on social media.
The Intelligence Committee was established in 1976 to oversee the range of civilian and military agencies and departments that make up the U.S. Intelligence Community, and has wide influence over U.S. national security and foreign policy.
The President of the United States is required by law to ensure that the Intelligence Committee is kept “fully and currently informed” of intelligence activities. As a result, U.S. intelligence agencies must notify the Committee of its activities, including covert actions.
HISTORY OF RI COMMITTEE CHAIRS
The last two Rhode Islanders to chair full Senate committees were John Chafee, who led the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works from 1995 to 1999, and Claiborne Pell, who served as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee from 1987 to 1995.
The committee and subcommittee assignments became official after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reached an agreement on an organizing resolution, which outlines how the Senate will operate with a 50-50 split, with Vice President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote in case of any ties.