Understanding the Committee Structure
Due to the high volume and complexity of its work, the Senate divides its tasks among 20 committees, dozens of subcommittees, and 4 joint committees.
Standing committees generally have legislative jurisdiction. Subcommittees handle specific areas of the committee's work. Select and joint committees generally handle oversight or housekeeping responsibilities.
Each party assigns its own members to committees, and each committee distributes its members among its subcommittees. The Senate places limits on the number and types of panels any one senator may serve on and chair (for detailed information about the Senate committee structure click here).
Senator Durbin serves on the following committees in the 117th Congress. He is Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Durbin is currently the Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he has served as a member for more than 20 years. As Chair, Durbin leads this historic Committee as they consider immigration and criminal justice reform, work to combat hate crimes and domestic terrorism, oversee the nominations process for our nation’s federal courts up to and including the Supreme Court, and more.
During his tenure on the Committee, Durbin has led efforts to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act, increase transparency in federal courts, conduct Department of Justice oversight, reduce gun violence, reform bankruptcy laws to help students and workers, and protect intellectual property. Read more about Durbin’s work as Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee here.
Senator Durbin is the first Illinois Senator in more than a quarter century to serve on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, a position that allows him to advocate for federal priorities important to Illinois. In his service with the committee, he has helped secure funding for everything from veterans care and schools to highways and health care clinics. In 2013 and 2014, Senator Durbin served as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Defense, and today is the Subcommittee’s Ranking Democrat. The Defense Appropriations Subcommittee controls nearly half of the nation’s annual discretionary budget and is important for Illinois, home to Naval Station Great Lakes, the Rock Island Arsenal, and Scott Air Force Base.
Senator Durbin joined the Committee on Agriculture, Rules, and Forestry this year for the 116th Congress. The Committee’s work centers on helping to establish, guide, and examine agricultural policies in the United States. This includes maintaining a strong safety-net for family farms, trade, food safety, nutrition, and conservation. Illinois is one of the top agriculture states in the nation, and Senator Durbin pushes for Illinois agricultural priorities that strengthen the economy and rural communities across the state.