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Another usage refers to the most senior member of a congressional or state legislative committee from the minority party. This second usage, often used by the media, should properly be referred to as the ranking minority member. On many committees the ranking minority member, along with the chairman, serve as ex officio members of all of the committee's subcommittees.
When party control of a legislative chamber changes, a committee's ranking minority member is likely, though not assured, to become the next chairman of the committee, and vice versa.
Four Senate committees refer to the ranking minority member as Vice Chairman. The following committees follow the Chairman/Vice Chairman structure for the majority and minority parties.
- Senate Committee on Appropriations
- Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
- Senate Select Committee on Ethics
- Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
Other Senate committees refer to the ranking minority members as Ranking Member.
The House of Representatives does not use the term vice chairman for the ranking minority member, though some committees do have a vice chairman position, usually assigned to a senior member of the majority party other than the chairman. House committees that follow this structure are:
- House Committee on Agriculture
- House Committee on Appropriations
- House Committee on the Budget
- House Committee on Education and the Workforce
- House Committee on Energy and Commerce
- House Committee on Financial Services
- House Committee on Government Reform
- House Committee on Foreign Affairs
- House Committee on Resources
- House Committee on Veterans' Affairs
- House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (subcommittees only)
Joint Committees of the House and Senate operate in much the same way, with a chairman and vice chairman from the majority party, alternating between a member of the House and a member of the Senate, and often two ranking members from both bodies.
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