WASHINGTON — For the first time in the history of the Senate, Republican women are joining the Judiciary Committee, a powerful panel that processes nominees for the Supreme Court and engages in contentious debates over abortion and immigration.
Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., will be on the committee, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office announced Thursday.
Blackburn was elected to the Senate in November. Ernst was first elected in 2014 and faces re-election in 2020. Both senators oppose abortion rights.
The lack of Republican women on the committee received widespread attention during the contentious confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh last fall. Christine Blasey Ford accused Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were both in high school. Kavanaugh denied the allegations.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was Judiciary Committee chairman during the Kavanaugh hearings. He opted to leave the Judiciary Committee to join the Finance Committee.
The GOP also is putting a historic number of women on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Blackburn and Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a former Air Force pilot who was the first woman to fly in combat and was appointed to the Senate in December, will join the panel. Ernst and Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., also are on the committee.
Elsewhere, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, who has been critical of Trump’s conduct and his policies abroad, was assigned to the Foreign Relations Committee.