Thune eyes Commerce Committee postSD senator favored to become panel’s ranking GOP member.
By: Tom Lawrence, The Daily Republic
It appears Sen. John Thune will soon take another step ahead in his Senate career.
Thune, R-S.D., is the favorite to become the ranking Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, according to a published
A ranking member is the most senior member of the minority party on a committee. There are 25 members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; 13 are Democrats and 12 are Republicans.
Democratic Sen. John D. Rockefeller, of West Virginia, is the chairman.
A ranking member is usually considered the favorite to serve as a panel chairman if the Senate turns and the minority party assumes control.
Thune’s possible accession is a bit of a surprise. Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican and leader in the conservative wing of the party, was anticipated to take the post, but he surprised observers last week by announcing he will retire from Congress at the end of the year.
DeMint will become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.
The other two Republicans on the committee are Kay Bailey Hutchison, of Texas, and Olympia J. Snowe, of Maine. Both are retiring.
Thune is the next in line in seniority and ready to take the assignment, he told Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., publication.
“Of course I am interested in it,” he told Roll Call.
Hutchison said Thune is the odds-on favorite for the seat.
“He’s certainly well-regarded, so unless he has another option, I would assume it would be John,” she said.
Roll Call said DeMint opposed increased federal funding for road, transit, rail and airport projects, while Thune is considered someone who would consider increased spending on such projects.
One lobbyist who works on infrastructure issues told Roll Call that Thune “appears to have a broader perspective and we’ve seen his good hand in bipartisan efforts.”
Thune, 51, is also a member of three other committees: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Budget; and Finance, as well as 10 subcommittees.
The second-term South Dakota senator was re-elected chairman of the Senate Republican Conference in November.
In that post, he helps senators communicate with the public and media through television, radio, and web technology, among other services.