Begich Wins Seat on Appropriations
Score! (I search frantically for a Democratic Alaskan political wonk and fistbump them!)
I wrote before about how Harry Reid was busy armoring Mark Begich for his upcoming reelection fight in 2014 with committee positions that would bolster his effectiveness in Washington, and make him indispensable to his home state.
What did Ted Stevens fans refer to when touting the special power he held in the senate? “Well, you know…” they’d say as they jammed their hands in theirr pockets and arched an eyebrow, “He was the, uh… head of the Appropriations Committee. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Lower 48er.” That’s how we got hospitals, and schools, and transportation infrastructure that most of the rest of the country was working on 100 years ago or more, when their states were as young as we.
Well, Harry Reid has outdone himself now. Mark Begich was all suited up with a plethora of assignments that benefitted the state. It was looking pretty good. But the last present under Mark Begich’s tree was a whopper. He has been assigned to the Appropriations Committee. Despite the good news for Alaska, Begich gained the seat for sad reasons. He fills the spot left by the late Senator Daniel Inouye, a friend to Alaska in his own right.
“I’m excited about this important new role, which is a critical post for Alaska,” Begich said. “With recent fiscal negotiations failing to address long-term spending, this committee will be more important than ever in ensuring we make aggressive but balanced cuts while protecting Alaska’s priorities.”
Senator Begich learned on Friday that he had secured the seat. Because of Senate rules, he will have to leave the Senate Armed Services Committee for this cushy new assignment. He will continue to serve on the following Senate committees: Veterans Affairs; Homeland Security and Government Affairs; Indian Affairs; and Commerce, Science and Transportation. He will also retain chairmanship of the Senate Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee.
“This position will allow me to take the fight to secure Alaska’s strategic military bases and protect military personnel to the next level,” Begich said. “We have made real progress on Alaska priorities like protecting Eielson Air Force Base and I will continue to build on that on the appropriations committee where key funding decisions will be made.”
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is also on the Appropriations Committee, so Alaska’s bipartisan representation on the committee should ensure the state’s priorities are not overlooked on a federal level, and serve us well.
“Alaska is a model many states envy because of the way our Congressional delegation works together,” Begich said. “I look forward to teaming up with Sen. Murkowski in this new role to advocate for the best interests of Alaska.”
So, if you are an Alaskan political wonk of the blueish variety, or someone who is interested in keeping a Democratic Senate seat in 2014, this is very good news indeed.