For the time being, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) will assume the role of Ranking Member of the powerful Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transporation, filling in for Ted Stevens (R-AK), who is forced to step down according to Republican caucus rules pertaining to indicted members. Stevens is charged with seven counts of false statements regarding the acceptance of items of value back in Alaska. Hutchison will use a temporary waiver to remain ranking member of an aviation-related subcommittee.
Hutchison does not expect this to be a fulltime, ongoing gig. “I am honored to temporarily step-in for Senator Stevens as Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee while the legal process works itself out,” she said. “Ted served our country heroically in World War II and is a tireless advocate for his state. I have every expectation that Senator Stevens will return to his role as Ranking Member in the future.”
RBR/TVBR observation: We do not expect big doings from this committee from here on to the end of the road for the 110th Congress. The DTV transition, coupled with the compelling distraction of federal elections, has sucked the wind out of almost all other legislative projects Congress might be inclined to consider, and that bar is only going to get higher as November approaches. That said, Hutchison is pretty much a reliable mainstream Republican who has only occasionally joined those of her party in crossing the aisle in support of the Byron Dorgan (D-ND) wing of the committee.