The appointment of Whitehouse to the powerful Finance Committee resulted from a shift in the Senate's political makeup in the wake of the December 2017 special election in Alabama, in which Democrat Doug Jones was elected to replace Republican Luther Strange. The Senate currently consists of 51 Republicans, 48 Democrats and one independent who caucuses with the Democrats.Because of this appointment, Whitehouse will leave the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Special Committee on Aging, according to a press release from Whitehouse’s office. He will, however, retain his positions on the Judiciary, Environment and Public Works, and Budget Committees. Sen. Jones, who was sworn in as Alabama's junior senator on Jan. 3, has been tapped to serve as Whitehouse's replacement on the HELP Committee.
Whitehouse is the sponsor of the Automatic IRA Act of 2017 (S. 1861), a measure that would amend the tax code to expand retirement saving by enabling employees not covered by retirement plans to save for retirement through automatic IRAs. He introduced the bill on Sept. 26, 2017; it is before the Finance Committee, which has not taken action on it yet.