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).

Committee Assignments

Senator Durbin serves on the following committees in the 114th Congress:

Appropriations Committee

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 healthcare 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. 

Rules and Administration

Serving on the Rules Committee since 2007, Durbin has helped push for improvements in the election process, access to voting, Congressional transparency and ethics standards, and Senate floor procedural reform.


Senator Dick Durbin became the founding Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, the first standing body of the Senate focused on human rights, in 2007.  In January 2011, the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction expanded to include constitutional and civil rights issues and was renamed the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. As Chairman, Durbin convened hearings and worked with colleagues to modernize human rights law, examine human rights abuses in our criminal justice system, and the role of American technology companies in promoting global internet freedom. In 2015, Senator Durbin served as the Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee. In 2017, Senator Durbin became the top Democrat on the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration.