Sullivan Delighted with U.S. Senate Committee Assignments

The Republicans in the U.S. Senate today announced their committee assignments for the next two years. Alaska’s Dan Sullivan will come in with the lowest seniority of the 100 senators, primarily because he’s never held elected office before. But it doesn’t seem to have hurt him on the committee score.

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Sullivan will serve on Armed Services, Veterans Affairs, Commerce, and Environment & Public Works, and he says he can hardly pick a favorite.

“Well look, I’m pleased with all of them,” he said. “These were actually the four committees that I requested.”

It’s through committees that senators can shape legislation, and their assignments define their sphere of influence. The Commerce Committee is of particular interest to Alaska because it oversees fisheries, as well as the Coast Guard and civil aviation. Alaska’s Ted Stevens chaired the panel near the end of his career. Sullivan says Environment and Public Works Committee doesn’t get as much attention.

“But over the course of the last several months I said that was a committee I’d be very interested in, just because of the oversight role it has with regard to certain federal agencies, particularly the EPA,” he said.

Sullivan, like other Republicans, made fighting the EPA a pillar of his campaign.

It should be an interesting time for the EPW committee. Its incoming chairman, Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe, believes man-made global warming is a hoax. The committee is also responsible for writing the multi-year transportation bill.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski becomes the chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources in the new Congress. She’ll also keep her other three assignments: Appropriations, Indian Affairs and the so-called HELP Committee — Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Murkowski says Sullivan’s committee list is a good counterpart to hers.

“Between what he has been assigned and I have retained, I think we cover everything across the state. I think it’s a great, great pairing,” she said.

Sullivan will be sworn in Jan. 6. Until then, Mark Begich remains in office, and he’s in the Capitol longer than expected while the Senate tries to wrap up for the year.