Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Dianne Feinstein poised to be new head of Senate Judiciary Committee

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) takes to Senate floor

Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks to members of the media after a hearing on the Benghazi attack last month. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The death of Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye has unlocked the seniority door at the U.S. Senate.  

California Senator Dianne Feinstein could jump committee chairs, putting her in a position to influence major legislation on gun control and immigration.

Feinstein currently serves as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which meets behind closed doors and only speaks formally to the news media once year. She also sits on the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy.

But the death of Senator Inouye means there is an opening at the top of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senator Leahy is next in line. Leahy said he'll decide Wednesday whether he wants to move over from Judiciary to Appropriations. And next in line at Judiciary is Dianne Feinstein.

Feinstein would be poised as Judiciary chair to champion two issues close to her heart: immigration and gun control.

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