Tuesday, January 08, 2013
In an unexpected development, U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake has been assigned a seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, a coveted perch that will give the freshman Arizona Republican clout on immigration reform as well as on U.S. Supreme Court nominations.
Flake and senior U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also are both joining the Foreign Relations Committee in the recently convened 113th Congress, giving the state new influence over treaties, diplomatic nominations and other international issues.
McCain remains on the Senate's Armed Services, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Indian Affairs committees.
Flake's other committees are Energy and Natural Resources, a panel that has jurisdiction on Arizona-related topics such as public lands, mining, forests and power generation, and Aging.
The assignments were announced Thursday, the day Flake was sworn in to replace U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who retired after three terms.
McCain sought the seat on Foreign Relations.
"I just thought it would be an opportunity to increase my involvement in national-security issues," McCain told The Arizona Republic. "Homeland Security, Armed Services and Foreign Relations pretty well covers a lot of both domestic- and foreign-security issues."
McCain's term as ranking GOP member on Armed Services, which has oversight of the Pentagon, ended this year. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., is taking over that role. But McCain said he remains first in line to become committee chairman should Republicans ever retake control of the Senate.
Flake said he hopes to get on the Judiciary's Immigration, Refugees and Border Security subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over immigration reform, an issue on which he is taking a leadership role. He said he also is interested in other judiciary issues such as intellectual-property rights.
Unlike Kyl, who also sat on the Judiciary Committee, Flake is not a lawyer, but for part of his tenure as a U.S. representative, he served on the House Judiciary Committee.
Likewise, Flake also brings experience from the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
"The Senate, with the approval of treaties, has a bit more of an official role in foreign policy than the House does," Flake said. "I look forward to continuing to work on it."
Nowicki is The Republic's national political reporter. Follow him at azdc.azcentral.com and @dannowicki.
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