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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spin Control

Cantwell stepping down as chair of Indian Affairs

Senator Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, is stepping down as chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee.

Cantwell said during a meeting Wednesday that Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will take over the committee in the coming months.

No explanation was given, but a Washington Post report earlier this month from January hinted that Cantwell could be in line to chair the Senate Small Business Commitee soon due to other senators leaving or changing committees.

The committee’s highest ranking Republican Sen. John Barrasso and Tester praised Cantwell’s tenure as chair.

“I appreciate your leadership and vision of this committee,” said Tester. “The poor soul that has to follow you has to live up to your legacy.”

A spokesman from Cantwell’s office said nothing official has been decided yet as to which committee Cantwell will be moving to and declined to comment on speculation.

Cantwell is currently the third highest ranking Democrat on the Small Business committee behind chairwoman Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, who’s rumored to be leaving to chair the Senate Energy Committee and Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, who is not running for reelection.

The Spokesman-Review's political team keeps a critical eye on local, state and national politics.