Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Two new senators, Oregon’s Jeff Merkley and New Mexico’s Tom Udall, will be joining the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said on Wednesday.

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The two attended the committee’s first hearing of the year on Wednesday, though their appointments are not yet official. Adding the two senators would give Democrats a three-seat majority on the committee, after holding a one-seat lead last Congress.

Final organizational structure has not yet been worked out, however, as the outcome of the never-ending Minnesota race between Al Franken (D) and Norm Coleman (R) may determine the ratio of Democrats to Republicans on the committee. The leadership from both parties will need to come to agreement on the breakdown.

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The committee lost Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who was booted from his seat in November as punishment for campaigning for Republican presidential candidate John McCain. It also lost Republicans John Warner (Va.) and Larry Craig (Idaho) to retirement. No word yet on who will replace them.