Defense Department photo
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham may assume leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee next year
Two South Carolina lawmakers are set to assume new leadership roles in Congress after shake-ups following this month's election.
For the first session of the 116th Congress, which convenes on Jan. 3, 2019, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will likely be the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
On Friday, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the current Judiciary chairman, announced he would seek the chairmanship
of the Senate Finance committee instead. That move would make Graham the most senior member left on the Judiciary committee.
"I very much appreciate Senator Grassley's leadership of the Senate Judiciary Committee," Graham said in a statement Friday afternoon.
Long considered a moderate Republican despite aggressive positions on defense, Graham has recently taken to strongly supporting President Donald Trump and his policies even after criticizing him heavily during the 2016 presidential campaign. In keeping with recent comments, Graham says he will move quickly to fill the 136 total federal judicial vacancies
"If I am fortunate enough to be selected by my colleagues to serve as Chairman, I will push for the appointment and Senate confirmation of highly qualified conservative judges to the federal bench and aggressive oversight of the Department of Justice and FBI."
In September, Graham was among the most vocal defenders of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during the his confirmation hearings before the Judiciary committee.
The senator became visibly agitated following testimony from Christine Blasey Ford, a college professor who accused Kavanaugh of sexual assaulting her when they were both in high school. Graham accused his Democratic colleagues of orchestrating a politically-motivated "charade."
Graham was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2003 after serving eight years in the House.
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Congressman Jim Clyburn may begin his second stint as majority whip in January
Also on Friday, Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina said that he had secured enough votes to elect Rep. Jim Clyburn as majority whip, the third-in-command behind the speaker and majority leader.
Clyburn's district includes parts of the Charleston peninsula as well as rural parts of the state between the Lowcountry and the Midlands.
"I just informed @Clyburn that our whip team has secured more than enough commitments from Democratic members of the next Congress to elect him the House Majority Whip!" Butterfield tweeted on Friday. "We will continue to press for support to earn every vote."
In the legislature, the whip is designated as the enforcer of party policy positions, working to keep legislators in line on key issues and tracking how votes add up before a final count.
Democrats won back control of the U.S. House earlier this month, leading Republicans by a margin of 231 to 198 in the lower chamber as of Friday. Congressman-elect Joe Cunningham will join Clyburn as the only other Democrat in the S.C. delegation.
Clyburn has served in the House since 1993. He has already been majority whip early in President Obama's administration from 2007 to 2011.