Wicker Lands Sought-After Committee Assignments

Senator to serve on Armed Services, Commerce and Veterans Committees

January 24, 2008

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has landed seats on three key Senate committees that will allow him to maximize his efforts to bolster Mississippi's economy and improve the lives of people across the state.

It was announced Thursday that he will serve on the Armed Services Committee, the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Wicker said his committee assignments are a positive development for Mississippi and will put him in position to help influence wide-ranging issues important across the entire state.   "I asked to serve on committees that will have the potential to make a positive impact on Mississippi," Wicker said.  "That's exactly what these key positions will enable me to do."

The Senator said his seat on the Armed Services Committee would offer the opportunity to work on defense issues vital to national security and important to communities all across Mississippi that support active duty, National Guard and Reserve installations.  He also noted that the state's economy benefits from the work of defense-related companies, large and small, that sustain thousands of jobs for Mississippians from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee state line.

With Wicker's appointment to the Armed Services Committee and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) serving as ranking member of the Appropriations Committee, Mississippi is well positioned by having representation on two of the four  committees classified within the Senate as "Super-A committees."  These committees include: Appropriations, Armed Services, Finance and Foreign Relations.

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised Sen. Wicker after announcing that Wicker's assignments had been ratified by the Republican Conference.

“The people of Mississippi will be well-served by having Sen. Wicker as a member of these key committees.  He has already proven himself a worthy advocate for Mississippi in the House, and I trust that Roger’s extensive military experience and familiarity with the critical role Mississippi plays in defending our nation will serve him well as he continues to serve the families of the Magnolia State.”

Governor Haley Barbour added, “Senator Roger Wicker’s Senate committee assignments build on the expertise and experience he gained as a member of the House, particularly in the fields of veterans’ affairs, armed services, commerce and transportation. He will have a significant impact on many issues that directly affect Mississippi, from national defense, to shipbuilding on the Coast, to land and water transportation projects across the state, to protecting veterans’ benefits.”

On the Commerce Committee, Wicker said he hopes to continue the work of former Sen. Trent Lott, who also served on the committee before resigning in December.  The committee has jurisdiction over a far-reaching range of issues, including the Coast Guard, transportation and infrastructure matters, and consumer safety.  The committee also oversees telecommunications issues, including initiatives to make broadband access more available and affordable in rural areas.

Wicker served on active duty in the Air Force and retired from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of lieutenant colonel.  He brings a solid understanding of veterans' issues to the Veterans' Affairs Committee, having worked on veterans matters as a member of House.  He was the top Republican on the appropriations subcommittee that determined the budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  In that role last year, he helped shepherd through Congress the largest VA funding increase in history, bringing funding to over $43 billion for 2008.

"Veterans in Mississippi and across our country deserve to have the most effective programs and services our grateful nation can provide," he said.  "The Department of Veterans Affairs has a broad mandate that includes matters relating to education, housing, compensation and pensions, and medical care.  I want to make sure the VA continues to adapt and respond to the needs of veterans in all of these critical areas," he said.