Virginia’s Kaine assumes Middle East chairmanship in Senate

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was named the chairman of the Senate’s Middle East subcommittee.

Kaine, a freshman and a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, announced his appointment, the result of a shuffle by the body’s Democratic leadership, on his website on Monday.

“The important region from Morocco to Pakistan includes many of America’s strongest allies as well as some of the world’s toughest challenges,” said Kaine, who is considered close to President Obama and who twice helped him win Virginia, a swing state.

Two weeks ago, during confirmation hearings for Samantha Power, Obama’s nominee to be United Nations ambassador, Kaine’s questioning focused entirely on how she would counter anti-Israel bias in the body.

Kaine replaces Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), a pro-Israel stalwart, who moved to the Finance Committee as part of a shuffle to create committee assignments for Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who was just elected in a special election.