Planet Gore

Vitter Takes Over for Inhofe on the Environment and Public Works Committee

And looks to be cleaning house. National Journal:

The new top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., has laid off almost all the professional staff—about a dozen—who worked under his predecessor, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., National Journal has learned.

This is a departure from the norm, Hill sources on both sides of the aisle tell NJ, where many professional committee staff members often remain through elections and other committee shuffles. To wit: The new chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has decided to retain about half of the staff who worked under the former chairman, now retired Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. Wyden announced his new staff, including many who worked for Bingaman, on Wednesday.

“My EPW staff did excellent work during my 10 years in leadership on the committee,” Inhofe told National Journal in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. “I trust Sen. Vitter has hired people he views will be of a good resource to his goals as the new Ranking Member and a representative of Louisiana.”

Among the staff let go were James O’Keeffe, a senior economist who had worked for the committee since 2005, according to Legistorm, an online database of congressional staff information. He focused on infrastructure issues, including the Highway Trust Fund, according to a source familiar with the committee workings. Todd Johnston, who worked on coal issues for Inhofe at the committee since 2007 and before that for former Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, was also let go.

Communication and staff directors are often let go during committee shakeups. These positions are more political than other policy-oriented positions, and the people holding these posts often build strong relationships with the senator they represent so it’s natural they would leave along with the senator.

The rest here.

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