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Rockefeller to Chair Senate Commerce Committee

Media focus likely, but economy is 'first order of business'

As he begins his fifth term in the Senate, West Virginia Democrat Jay Rockefeller IV will chair the Energy and Commerce Committee.

He will assume his new chairmanship on Jan. 6 when the 111th Congress officially convenes.

The move had been expected. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., made the announcement this week after a vote by the Democratic caucus.

Rockefeller takes over Commerce from Democrat Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, who’s vacating the Commerce chairmanship for the chair of the Appropriations Committee in the new Senate.

Rockefeller has been more concerned with media issues than Inouye, and his appointment is expected to return the committee to its more traditional focus on media issues. Rockefeller has been especially concerned about TV violence.

His first order of business will be the economy, he said in a statement: “Our country is facing the greatest economic crisis of our lifetime and people all across America are struggling. President-elect Obama is committed to a results-based agenda and I look forward to working with him in the Congress. We agree that the first order of business for us all is to work together to revive our economy.”