CQ: Alexander Likely to Take Over as Ranking Member on HELP

Posted on January 4, 2013

Lamar Alexander is expected to move into the top Republican slot on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee in the new Congress, taking the reins from the current ranking member Michael B. Enzi.

In a press release Thursday, Alexander’s office said GOP senators are expected to elect the Tennessean to the position when they meet to determine committee leadership later this month. An Enzi spokesman said the Wyoming Republican is term-limited because he served as the panel’s ranking member for six years. Enzi also served as chairman of the committee for two years.

“I welcome this opportunity because Tennessee has become a leader in health care and education innovation,” Alexander said in the release.

The announcement also noted that Alexander is expected to continue as the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over funding for energy and water issues. And he has been appointed to the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the release said, giving him even more play on energy issues in the 113th Congress.

“My committee assignments will also give me an opportunity to continue fighting for policies that bring lots of cheap, clean energy to Tennessee, as well as working to rebuild our waterways, which grows our economy and allows the private sector to create good jobs,” he said.

Alexander brings experience with conservative education policy to the HELP position, having served as Education secretary under the first President George Bush. His resume will be put to use as the committee resumes efforts to reauthorize the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind (PL 107-110) and works to overhaul the Higher Education Act (PL 110-315), which includes the federal student loan program and Pell grants. In the 112th Congress, Alexander contributed to bipartisan legislation to rewrite No Child that won committee approval, but never received Senate floor consideration.

The HELP panel also has jurisdiction over health and labor issues, giving Alexander an outlet to continue his support for right-to-work laws.

In addition, Alexander will continue to serve on the Rules and Administration Committee, where he held the top Republican slot in the 112th Congress, the release said.