Senator Ted Kennedy announced that he is stepping down from his position on the Judiciary Committee, according to a statement released from his office, reports Sarah Abruzzese.
““As Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, I expect to lead a very full agenda in the next Congress, including working with President Obama to guarantee affordable health care, at long last, for every American. This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and I intend to make the most of it," Kennedy said in a statement released by his office.
"I also support Senator Reid's initiative to have senior members of the Democratic Caucus reduce their committee assignments in order to provide opportunities for less senior Democratic Senators."
For all of these reasons, I have decided to step down from the Senate Judiciary Committee. I do so with great confidence in Chairman Leahy and my current colleagues on the Committee – and in the newly-elected Democratic Senators who will reap new opportunities from my stepping down.
"I remain deeply committed to civil rights, equal opportunities and immigration reform, and I will always be involved in those important debates and discussions," Kennedy added.
Kennedy has been treated for a brain tumor since last summer and has only made very brief public appearances since that time. He has vowed to retain control of the HELP committee despite his cancer treatments. He was the chairman for the Judiciary subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, which means subcommittee chairs may be reshuffled on the panel.
Democrats picked up seven seats in the November elections, with one race still undecided. The influx of new Democrats may force Reid and other party leaders to convince full-committee chairmen like Kennedy to give up secondary subcommittee chairs.