Senate Committee chairs are powerful positions which are determined by majority party leadership based on seniority, expertise and proven interest. The Democratic Party holds majority control of the 112th U.S. Senate with 53 seats held by 51 Democrats and two Independents who caucus with the Democrats. Republicans occupy 47 Senate seats.
Since the U.S. Senate was intentionally designed to be the more deliberative of the two houses of Congress, much Senate business is accomplished by its 16 standing committees and 4 special and select committees, including the review of bills, approval or blocking of presidential nominations, and oversight of the executive branch.
Also read Senate Democratic Leadership, 2011 to 2012.
U.S. Senate committees will be chaired in the 112th Congress by:
- Foreign Relations - Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts
- Judiciary - Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont
- Appropriations - Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, replacing the late Sen. Robert Byrd who passed away in 2010. Sen. Inouye, who assumed office in 1963, is the longest serving member of the 112th Senate.
- Budget - Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota
- Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs - Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut
- Environment & Public Works - Sen. Barbara Boxer of California
- Energy & Natural Resources - Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico
- Health, Education, Labor & Pensions - Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, replacing the late Sen. Ted Kennedy who passed away in 2009.
- Armed Forces - Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan
- Finance - Sen. Max Baucus of Montana
- Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs - Sen. Tom Johnson of South Dakota
- Small Business & Entrepreneurship - Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana
- Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry - Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, replacing Sen. Tom Harkin who moved to chair Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.
- Commerce, Science & Transportation - Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia
- Veterans' Affairs - Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii
- Rules and Administration - Sen. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York