The Buzz

Pat Roberts, Roy Blunt claim Senate committee chairmanships

Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts on Thursday made history by becoming the first member of Congress to chair both the House and Senate Agriculture committees.

Roberts took the helm of the Senate panel on Thursday. He led the House committee from 1995-1997.

“I am honored to work for America’s farmers and ranchers,” Roberts said in a statement. “I look forward to an aggressive schedule with hearings providing much needed oversight of our farm programs, school meals, the United States Department of Agriculture, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency.”

Blunt, meantime, was chosen to lead the Senate Rules Committee. The panel oversees issues related to rules, procedures and Senate administration.

One big issue involving the committee: Will the GOP majority restore the 60-vote threshold for executive and judicial nominations? When they were in the majority, Senate Democrats ended that requirement, saying they were frustrated with a lack of cooperation from Republicans who regularly blocked nominations.

A simple majority vote is now all that’s required. With their majority, Republicans now have the power to block Obama administration nominees as it is.

Blunt didn’t sound very optimistic that the rule will return to the 60-vote standard.

“The change that Senator Reid and the Democrats made was long-term and permanent,” he said in a statement to The Buzz. “My view at the time was, if the rule changes, it’s likely never to revert back to where it was.”