U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.

Democrats to Hold Three-Vote HELP Majority

A deal reportedly has been reached determining how many seats the two main parties will have on U.S. Senate committees in the new 111th Congress. The Hill, a congressional watchdog newspaper, reported yesterday that the top Republican and Democratic senators agreed that Democrats will have a three-vote majority on most committees, including the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee chaired by Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. In the 110th Congress, the committee had 11 Democrats and 10 Republicans.

The Democrats have a far larger overall Senate majority this time: 17 seats and possibly 18 after the Minnesota race between Sen. Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken is finally resolved. A larger majority both in committee and on the Senate floor gives the Democrats a much better chance of advancing the bills they favor and seeing them become law.

On the House side, the Education and Labor Committee, chaired by U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., holds an organizational meeting at 10:45 a.m. Eastern time on Friday to complete its subcommittee assignments for the new Congress. Miller already has secured House passage of two of his priority bills, the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

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