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Reid Reshuffles Committee Heads

Harry Reid has named the powerful committee chairmen who will hold the key to shaping Barack Obama’s legislative agenda next Congress.

Some of the reshuffling started with Joe Biden’s ascension to the vice presidency, leaving open his chairmanship of the Foreign Relations Committee, which Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) will take over next Congress. Since senators can only chair one full committee, Kerry gave up his gavel on the Small Business Committee, which Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) will take over.

As expected, Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) will take over the powerful Appropriations Committee for Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) after questions were raised about his health. Inouye is leaving behind his chairmanship of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which will now be run by Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.).

That means Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) will take over the Intelligence Committee, which Rockefeller had chaired.

And Feinstein will give up her gavel on the Rules and Administration Committee, paving the way for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to become chairman. Since the committee has primary jurisdiction over election-related disputes, Schumer, the hard-edged Democratic partisan, could have a key role in helping resolve the outcome of the Minnesota Senate race should it get kicked up to the Senate.

Other chairmanships are largely the same, including the one held by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who will retain his position running the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee despite threats that he would lose his gavel for attacking Obama on the campaign trail.

Reid's full statement after the jump
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