Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) will chair the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship when Congress reconvenes next month, Senate leaders announced this week.

Landrieu takes over the role from Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who has led the committee on and off over the past decade. Kerry is stepping aside to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Landrieu currently heads the Disaster Recovery Subcommittee of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and already co-chairs the Common Ground Coalition with Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine).

This year, Landrieu received the Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Business for her ongoing efforts to help Gulf Coast small-business owners following devastating storms in recent years.

"After Louisiana was walloped by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Senator Landrieu put Washington on notice that she wouldn't accept a second-rate federal response," Kerry said in a statement.

She has also pressed President-elect Obama's transition team to make small businesses a critical part of the nation's economic recovery efforts.

"Small businesses are the backbone of the Louisiana economy," Landrieu said in a statement. "I intend to use my gavel to ensure that they play an active role in our nation's economic recovery and that the federal is a supportive and efficient partner in their success."