Stabenow, Peters in line to chair key committees with Dem wins in Ga.

    U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters at the NAACP dinner | Andrew Roth

    With the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Georgia’s win over U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and Jon Ossoff’s victory over U.S. Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), the Democrats are primed to control the U.S. Senate. And that means that Michigan’s two U.S. senators are likely to secure significant committee chairmanships. 

    The GOP currently controls the U.S. Senate but with the two Georgia wins, the chamber will be in a 50-50 tie. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, a Democrat, would be the tiebreaker. Democrats will control the House, Senate and White House for the first time since 2011.

    U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) is in line to return as chair of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee after leading it from 2011 to 2015 when Democrats were in control. She could also lead the Finance Committee’s health care subcommittee, which deals with Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Stabenow was first elected to Capitol Hill’s upper chamber in 2000. 

    Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, who leads Michigan’s largest city, has applauded Stabenow’s work in the past. 

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    “A couple of years ago when all the budgets in Washington were caught up in gridlock, she got the Agriculture budget through,” Duggan told Michigan Advance in October. “She was the ranking Democrat and it was pretty remarkable.”

    The effort was important to Detroit because it offered vital Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funding, which provides healthy food for needy families. About 30% of Detroit households live below the federal poverty level.

    U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.), who won reelection in November, is currently the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He is poised to become chair of the panel now. 

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    Committee chairmanships have not yet been determined. Neither Stabenow nor Peters responded to a request for comment. 

    Stabenow heading the Ag Committee would likely be beneficial to Michigan considering its large agricultural economy and border relationship with Canada, a strong trading partner to the United States. 

    Peters also has been critical of the U.S. Postal Service efficiency and effectiveness in recent months as the agency as constituents have expressed outrage over delays in mail service and union officials have called out administrative efforts to remove equipment for mail processing centers. It falls under the oversight of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. 

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.