Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) will remain the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, forgoing the opportunity to head the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, his office announced on Wednesday.
Following the death of Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) on Monday, Leahy succeeded the lawmaker as president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate and the most senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, allowing him to claim the panel's gavel. Instead, Leahy will remain a senior member of the committee, with Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) as the panel's first chairwoman. During this Congress, she has served as the chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the U.S. Justice Department budget.
"Chairing the Judiciary Committee and maintaining my seniority on the Appropriations Committee will allow me to protect both the Constitution and Vermont," Leahy said in a written statement.