Following the death of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) earlier this week, it is expected that Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), a strong supporter of NIH and other public health programs, will be appointed as the new chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Mikulski is likely to be officially named as the head of the panel by her Democratic colleagues at Thursday's caucus meeting. She would become the first woman to chair that committee.
Senator Mikulski was third in line to chair the Appropriations Committee. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the most senior Democratic member of the panel after the late Senator Inouye, turned down the position to remain as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), perhaps the most vocal proponent of NIH, was next in line for the chairmanship of the full Appropriations Committee but chose to stay on as chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee rather than take the gavel at the Appropriations panel. Senator Harkin will also continue to the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations subcommittee.
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