Ben Sasse joins Intelligence Committee; Deb Fischer keeps most of her previous assignments

WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse is leaving the Senate Armed Services Committee for the Intelligence Committee in the 116th Congress.

The Nebraska Republican said in a press release that the Intelligence Committee has a unique national security role with its work on China, Russia and cyberwarfare.

“The Intelligence Committee is where Congress wrestles most frequently with these challenges, and I’m eager to work with my colleagues in open and closed session,” Sasse said.

He will also serve on the Judiciary, Banking and Joint Economic Committees, as well as a new commission on cybersecurity.


Sasse started the previous Congress by giving up a seat on the Agriculture Committee and another panel to secure seats on Judiciary and Armed Services, even though his home-state Republican colleague Sen. Deb Fischer already serves on Armed Services.

His move briefly left the Agriculture Committee without a Nebraskan for the first time since 1969; Fischer later secured a spot on the panel mid-session.

Sasse explained the jump at the time in part by stressing the power the Armed Services Committee wields in crafting its annual defense authorization legislation.

Sasse declined a World-Herald interview request Friday about his latest switch.

Other senators also are making committee moves in the new year.

Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, will join the Senate Judiciary Committeealong with incoming Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. They are the first two GOP women to serve on the panel.

The lack of women on the Republican side of the committee was particularly problematic for party leaders last year as the panel wrestled with sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Ernst also will hold seats on the Agriculture Committee and the Environment and Public Works Committee, along with the Armed Services and Small Business Committees.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is taking the gavel of the powerful Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over trade issues, the tax code and many areas of health policy.

Grassley has said that tackling prescription drug prices is part of his agenda for the panel.

“The Senate Finance Committee has broad jurisdiction to improve access to affordable health care,” Grassley said after accepting the gavel this week. “I intend to use those authorities.”

Grassley continues to serve on the Agriculture and Budget Committees. He also will continue to hold a seat on the Judiciary Committee, where he served as chairman in the previous Congress and oversaw the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominations and shepherded through a sweeping criminal justice overhaul.

Fischer, R-Neb., will keep most of her same assignments in the new Congress, including the trio of Armed Services, Commerce and Rules.

Fischer is giving up a spot on the Environment and Public Works Committee in order to keep her seat on Agriculture.

“Whether it’s modernizing our country’s nuclear enterprise, investing in roads and broadband infrastructure, or opening up new possibilities for our ag producers, there are a number of opportunities to achieve meaningful results for Nebraskans,” Fischer said in a press release.

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