National | Politics

Sen. John Barrasso passing on gavel at Senate Committee on Indian Affairs






Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) won't be serving as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs once the 115th Congress convenes in January 2017. Photo by SCIA

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs will be seeing new leadership during the upcoming session of Congress.

Democrats already named Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) as the new vice chairman of the committee, which has jurisdiction over Indian issues. He will be taking on that role during the 115th Congress when it convenes in January 2017.

But the committee is also getting a new chairman. Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) confirmed on Wednesday that he will be passing on the gavel after presiding over an impressive slew of hearings, business meetings and listening sessions since January 2015.

"I look forward to staying on the committee," Barrasso said during the panel's last oversight hearing of the 114th Congress.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) is giving up the vice chairman's post but he's staying on the committee as well. He had nothing but praise for Barrasso's efforts.

"I just want to thank you for your straightforwardness, your ability to get something done on behalf of Indian Country," Tester said.

"I think you both have been great leaders in moving the committee along very efficiently and effectively," offered Sen. Steve Daines (R-Montana).

But just who will take Barrasso's place is up in the air at this time. The most senior Republican on the committee is Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) but he's not likely to take on the position, having served twice as chair in the past.

Next in line is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who made history in 2007 when she became the first woman to serve as vice chair of the panel. Republicans, however, haven't said who will be in charge come January.

"The committee has no announcements concerning leadership at this time," a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

Related Stories:
Congress passes long-awaited land bills for two tribes in Oregon (12/06)
Senate committee ready for hearing on Cobell buy-back program (12/05)
Democrats pick new vice chair for Senate Committee on Indian Affairs (11/16)
Tribes seek greater protections for sacred and cultural property (10/18)
Republicans upset with lack of criminal charges in Gold King Mine disaster (10/17)
Lawmakers take action on Native youth and Indian Country bills (09/29)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs advances the RESPECT Act (09/14)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on four bills (09/12)
Lumbee Tribe makes case for federal recognition at Senate hearing (09/08)
Controversial Indian education bill advances on party-line vote (09/08)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs holds first hearing since break (09/06)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs adds another hearing to schedule (09/06)
Senate passes bill to update tribal employment grant program (07/15)