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New Sens. Doug Jones and Tina Smith Join Senate Education Committee


Sen. Doug Jones, the Alabama Democrat who scored a big political upset in winning his seat last month, will join the Senate education committee, along with fellow congressional rookie Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn. 

Jones and Smith will take the place of Al Franken, the former Democratic senator from Minnesota who resigned last month after facing allegations of sexual misconduct, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who is no longer on the committee's roster of Democrats. Smith was selected by Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, to take Franken's place. 

Earlier this week, we named Jones and Smith as two potential candidates to fill the committee opening left by Franken. Jones doesn't really have a background on education, and his campaign didn't get back to us when we reached out for comment on K-12 issues during his Senate run. On his campaign website, Jones said the nation "must invest sufficient resources to ensure that our educational system provides the skills, knowledge and tools necessary for our children to succeed."

However, Jones did make a plea during his campaign for renewed funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. CHIP hasn't been renewed since its authorization expired last September. The program got a short-term funding boost for three months, but beyond that its fate is still uncertain.

Smith, who previously served as Minnesota's lieutenant governor, has highlighted school funding and early education as two priorities for her in the Senate

With Jones and Smith joining the Senate education committee (which also deals with health care, labor, and pension issues) and Franken and Whitehouse now gone, there are 12 Republicans and 11 Democrats. The committee's top Democrat is Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. 

Photo: Sen. Doug Jones, D-Ala., speaks at a November campaign rally in Birmingham, Ala. during his successful campaign for the Senate. (Brynn Anderson/AP).

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