Al Franken performs for U.S. troops in Germany in 2000.
Al Franken won’t officially be a U.S. senator until next week, but he’s set to make a big impact, and not just because he gives his party that 60th seat. Senate Democrats have reserved four committee spots for Franken, two of which will make him a key participant in health care reform and the confirmation of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island has been temporarily filling the seat the Democrats reserved for Franken on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which has spent two weeks working on a complicated health-care overhaul that is expected to be completed July 10. The work on that bill has taken so long that Franken might still be able to participate.
Franken had argued for the urgency of resolving the court case because of his interest in participating in the health debate, which Democrats call their top domestic priority.
In addition, Ron Wyden of Oregon has been serving temporarily in Franken’s place on the Judiciary Committee, which has a hearing scheduled July 13 on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor. Democrats hope to confirm her before the August recess.