Sen. Mark Begich today secured a seat on the influential Senate Appropriations Committee, where he will apply his commonsense approach to addressing the national budget deficit, among other challenges.
"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."
Begich learned Friday that he secured the seat, which was left vacant after the death of Hawaii Sen. Daniel Inouye in late December. Due to Senate rules, Begich will leave the Senate Armed Services Committee to take the Appropriations Committee assignment, but will continue to fight for Alaska's military from his new post. He will continue to serve on the following Senate committees: Veterans Affairs; Homeland Security and Government Affairs; and Commerce, Science and Transportation. He will also retain chairmanship of the Senate Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee. Begich secured another new committee assignment -- on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee -- in mid-December.
"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."
Frustrated by the recent "fiscal cliff" compromise that pushed decisions on spending cuts out another two months, Begich said he is energized by the prospect of playing a decisive role in needed spending cuts while ensuring Alaska's priorities are still met for the military, infrastructure, energy and education.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is also on the Appropriations Committee, and Alaska's bipartisan representation on the committee should ensure the state's priorities are not overlooked on a federal level.
"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."