Politics

Reid Moves to Give Schumer More Power

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., second from left, emerges from a Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday. Nov. 14, 2006, after being elected incoming majority leader of the 110th congress. From left are Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., elected Democratic Conference vice chair; Reid; Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., elected conference secretary, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., named assistant majority leader.     (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev., second from left, emerges from a Democratic caucus on Capitol Hill in Washington Tuesday. Nov. 14, 2006, after being elected incoming majority leader of the 110th congress. From left are Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., elected Democratic Conference vice chair; Reid; Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., elected conference secretary, and Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., named assistant majority leader. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook)

Sen. Chuck Schumer, now serving as the chamber's number three Democrat and chairman of the Rules Committee, is about to don yet another leadership hat, as Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., looks to consolidate his caucus' messaging functions with its policy apparatus, this ahead of a difficult election year in 2012 for the majority with Republicans defending only half as many seats as their counterparts.

In a letter to his colleagues obtained by Fox, Reid announced that on Tuesday, he intends to nominate the New York senator, a fundraising powerhouse and tactical expert, to chair a new office that deals with both policy and caucus communications.

"I have asked Senator Schumer, whose communications abilities and tactical skills we all greatly respect, to lead this effort as Chairman of the new office," the letter reads.

The leader also tasked Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., to be Schumer's deputy, and elevated Alaska Democrat Mark Begich to lead the caucus' Steering and Outreach Committee, replacing Stabenow.

Some members of the caucus are likely to insist, according to Democratic sources, that Schumer give up his Rules Committee chairmanship when the caucus meets on Tuesday behind closed doors to approve their leadership slate for the new conference. One aide told Fox, "It's just too much. I mean, how much can one person control here? It's only fair that someone else get a chance."

Another Democratic source indicated that the Schumer move is likely to be approved by his colleagues, many from the 2006 and 2008 class who received enormous assistance from then-Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Schumer, but it is not yet a done deal.

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who is up in 2012, released the following statement in support of Schumer, "This is a good move. It's going to help us better communicate our policies to middle class Americans and move the country forward in passing meaningful legislation that will help create jobs and get our economy back on track. I think this is a change for the better."

Reid had asked Schumer to serve as the campaign chairman for a third term, but the senator refused.

The leader told Fox Monday that he has someone selected for the job, but it is unclear who that might be, as a number of senators have already turned Reid down - from Mark Warner of Virginia with presidential aspirations to Al Franken of Minnesota and Mike Bennet of Colorado, who was just reelected after a bruising primary and general election campaign.