ND's Hoeven, Berg prepare for new jobs in CongressBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's newly elected members of Congress have started putting together office staffs and exploring committee assignments, although U.S. Sen.-elect John Hoeven already has assurances he'll land spots on two key Senate panels.
By: DALE WETZEL, Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's newly elected members of Congress have started putting together office staffs and exploring committee assignments, although U.S. Sen.-elect John Hoeven already has assurances he'll land spots on two key Senate panels.
U.S. Rep.-elect Rick Berg said he was keeping "an open mind" about potential committee assignments but mentioned the U.S. House's energy, agriculture and financial services committees as possibilities.
"My objective right now is to make sure that I'm able to convey to the leadership, 'Here are the priorities. Here are my skills. And I want to be in the position where I can have the biggest impact,'" Berg said.
Hoeven and Berg will attend orientation for new members of Congress in Washington next week. Berg defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., while Hoeven, who beat Democratic challenger Tracy Potter, is succeeding retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is up for re-election in 2012.
The Senate's Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has already promised Hoeven spots on the Senate's appropriations and energy committees, Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said Monday. McConnell made the pledges during a January visit to Fargo to campaign for Hoeven.
Dorgan holds spots on the Senate's appropriations, energy and commerce committees and is chairman of the Senate's Indian Affairs Committee. Pomeroy is a member of the House's Ways and Means and agriculture panels. Freshman House members typically are not placed on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over taxation and trade issues.
Berg said he has been reaching out to other Republicans in the House's freshman class, which totals more than 80 members, as well as trying to recruit staff. He said he hasn't decided how many North Dakota offices he will have or where they will be located. Pomeroy kept district offices in Fargo and Bismarck.
"The next 60 days are very important, and a lot of that is getting a good staff together that can help you accomplish what it is you want to do," Berg said. "We're obviously getting the word out, letting people know that we're looking for ... people who would be interested in helping out, both at the state level and in a Washington office."
He said he had not decided who to support among the two announced candidates for chairman of the House Republican conference, Reps. Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. The top three House Republican leadership jobs are expected to be filled without a contest: Ohio's John Boehner as speaker; Eric Cantor of Virginia as majority leader, and Kevin McCarthy of California as majority whip.
Don Larson, who managed Hoeven's Senate campaign and is in charge of his transition team, said Monday the office has gotten "quite a few" resumes. Hoeven will decide after next week's orientation how his staff will be structured and where his North Dakota offices will be located, he said.
"We've had people inquiring for some time," Larson said. Hoeven, who defeated Potter with 76 percent of the vote, had been long regarded as a sure bet for the Senate seat.