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WASHINGTON — Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders has been elevated to the powerful role of Senate Budget Committee Chairman as the Democratic Party continues its metamorphosis under the new Biden administration.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday announced the committee memberships for the new 117th Congress and also confirmed that West Virginia centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, who is quickly emerging as a powerful voice in the upper chamber, would lead the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee.
After damaging allegations about her flagging mental acuity emerged in the press late last year, 87-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein also stepped aside and has been replaced as the chair of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.
Manchin and Sanders both served as the minority leaders on their respective committees but were elevated to the chairmanships after Republicans lost the Senate majority earlier this year.
As chair of the budget committee, Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, will be in charge of shepherding Biden’s plans for tax reform through a narrowly-divided Congress.
Meanwhile, Manchin will serve a unique role on the energy and natural resources committee as the senator from coal-rich West Virginia.
The Democrat lawmaker has embraced Biden’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050, but has pushed back on progressives’ calls to eliminate the nation’s use of fossil fuels.
In recent weeks, Manchin has also warned his Democrat colleagues against impeaching former President Donald Trump, calling it “so ill-advised.”
Last week, he ripped Vice President Kamala Harris for appearing on local TV stations in his state in what was perceived as a move to push him into supporting Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package.