The appointments by the Democrats mark the first time this century that the committee has seen any African-American members. The last African-American to sit on the committee was Carol Moseley Braun, a Democrat from Illinois, who was the first Black woman elected to the Senate.
“The Congressional Black Caucus could not be more proud of both of our Senate members and know the experience and expertise they bring to the Committee will be beneficial for all Americans,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the CBC’s chairman, in a statement.
A shakeup in positions
According to the Washington Post, Harris was seen as a likely candidate to replace Al Franken after he resigned last year amid accusations of sexual misconduct. Booker, meanwhile, was more of a surprise, since he had testified against Senator Jeff Sessions when he was nominated for attorney general. That kind of move against a fellow senator was highly unusual at the time.
“The Trump administration has repeatedly demonstrated its hostility to the ideals of civil rights and equal justice for all,” Booker said in a statement on Tuesday. “As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will make it my mission to check and balance President Trump and Attorney General Sessions.”
Democrats were able to appoint two people to the committee because of the new makeup of the Senate. When Doug Jones was elected to be the Senator from Alabama, his election shrunk the majority hold that Republicans had on the Senate.
Jones himself, along with Sen. Tina Smith, will take up the rest of Franken’s old responsibilities. Smith will join the Agriculture, Energy and Indian Affairs committees. Smith and Jones will both join the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Jones will join the Banking and Homeland Security committees, as well as the Committee on Aging.