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WASHINGTON — Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand has been named to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, a high-profile assignment that will make her privy to much of the government’s top secret information about foreign threats to the nation.
The move boosts Gillibrand’s national security portfolio, given that she has long served on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She will also continue to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee, as well as the Select Committee on Aging, but will give up her slot on the Environment and Public Works Committee as she moves to the Intelligence panel.
“I am honored to have the chance to serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the nexus of 21st century security and international relations,” Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, said in a statement. “I look forward to using my position on the Intelligence Committee to best represent the interests of New York, which has been the top terror target in the United States since before 9-11, and to working closely with the NYPD and New York Department of Homeland Security to keep our state safe.”
Gillibrand said she also plans to focus on ways to combat cyber attacks.
By law, the president must keep the Intelligence Committee “fully and currently informed” about the nation’s intelligence activities. In addition, the Intelligence panel has an oversight role, keeping watch on the nation’s spy agencies.
Gillibrand’s ascension to the Intelligence panel highlighted the committee assignments given to local lawmakers in the 117th Congress.
New York’s senior senator, Charles E. Schumer, became majority leader this year as Democrats took control of the Senate. As majority leader, he does not serve on committees. Schumer also did not serve on any committees during the last Congress, when he was minority leader.
Gillibrand was first appointed to the U.S. Senate in 2009. She was elected to fill the remainder of former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton’s term in 2010, and to a full six-year term in 2012. New Yorkers reelected her in 2018.
The committee assignments were announced by Sen. Schumer on Tuesday. Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reached an agreement on an organizing resolution, which outlines how the Senate will operate with a 50-50 split.
Democrats hold the majority because Vice President Kamala Harris is the tie-breaking vote. Schumer is the first New Yorker to serve as Senate majority leader.
But an organizing resolution was necessary because of the even split. Before the agreement between McConnell and Schumer, Republicans continued to chair the committees. With the resolution in place, Democrats will take over those posts.
In other committee moves affecting New York members of Congress: — Rep. Brian Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, will continue to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, as well as its Health, Social Security and Trade subcommittees. Ways and Means is considered one of the most powerful committees in the House, as it oversees tax policy and major health care and retirement programs.
Higgins will also continue to serve on the House Budget Committee.
“Membership on these committees puts us at the table for discussions on many of the issues important to Western New York,” Higgins said. “The work ahead will be particularly critical this year as we address needed relief to communities and help families and businesses recover from hardships associated with COVID-19.”
Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from Corning, will also continue to serve on the Ways and Means Committee. In addition, he will ascend to a leadership role, becoming the top Republican on the panel’s Social Security subcommittee.
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