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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said on Monday he will seek to become the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee next year, after Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she will step down from the position.

The big picture: Durbin has served on the committee for 22 years. He noted Monday he is its most senior member who already isn't serving on the leadership of another panel. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has seniority over Durbin, but chairs the Appropriations Committee.

What he's saying: Durbin thanked Feinstein "for her distinguished leadership" on the committee, adding that he is "proud to call her my friend and colleague,"

  • "I intend to seek the top Democratic position on the Judiciary Committee in the 117th Congress. We have to roll up our sleeves and get to work on undoing the damage of the last four years and protecting fundamental civil and human rights."

What to watch: Two Senate runoff races in Georgia on Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the Senate.

Go deeper

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy to preside over Trump's second impeachment trial

Sen. Patrick Leahy heads to the Senate floor on Nov. 9. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is expected to preside over former President Trump's second impeachment trial, a Senate source tells Axios. CNN first reported Leahy's role.

Why it matters: The Constitution requires the chief justice of the Supreme Court to preside over a sitting president's impeachment trial rather than the vice president — who has the title of president of the Senate — to avoid a potential conflict of interest. However, there is no precedent for a former president.

Trump political team disavows "Patriot Party" groups

Marine One carries President Trump away from the White House on Inauguration Day. Photo: Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Donald Trump's still-active presidential campaign committee officially disavowed political groups affiliated with the nascent "Patriot Party" on Monday.

Why it matters: Trump briefly floated the possibility of creating a new political party to compete with the GOP — with him at the helm. But others have formed their own "Patriot Party" entities during the past week, and Trump's team wants to make clear it has nothing to do with them.

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.