Times Reporter

December 14, 2006

Space chosen for transportation committee post

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON – Rep.-elect Zack Space has tentatively landed a spot on a key transportation committee that would give him a platform for steering federal spending projects to his district.

 The Dover Democrat’s predecessor, convicted ex-Rep. Bob Ney, R-Heath, also served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He used the position to direct federal transportation funds to the 18th District – including $52 million as part of a highway bill passed last year.

Democrats also announced Wednesday that two-term Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, has been chosen for one of the most coveted assignments – the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Ryan said in a statement he looks forward to “using my new position to promote more opportunities for economic development throughout our region and Ohio.”

The committee determines how more than $800 billion in federal spending is allocated among government agencies and programs. Historically, its members have been able to use their clout to designate millions of dollars in special projects to their districts.

Ryan, who is viewed as a rising star among Democratic lawmakers, will join his congressional district neighbor, Rep. Ralph Regula, on the appropriations panel.

Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, has served as vice chairman of the committee in recent years, but he will have less influence when Democrats take control of the panel in January.

The Ryan and Space assignments, along with dozens of other Democratic nominations to House committees, require approval by Democratic lawmakers in what is typically a rubber-stamp process.

House Democrats are next scheduled to meet Jan. 3 and may vote on the committee assignments then, said a representative for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Pelosi is designated to become the next speaker of the House.

The transportation committee was Space’s second choice after the Energy and Commerce Committee. The latter panel would have given him a chance to work on one of his highest priorities: the promotion of alternative forms of energy.

Space has said he also thought the transportation committee would allow him to “do a lot of good for the district.”

Ryan was able to press his bid to join the Appropriations Committee after Pelosi named him to a Democratic steering committee that makes committee assignments.

Two other freshmen lawmakers from the area also received committee assignments this week.

The steering committee named Rep.-elect Charlie A. Wilson, D-St. Clairsville, to the Financial Services Committee. Wilson is replacing Rep. Ted Strickland, who was elected the next governor of Ohio.

Rep.-elect Betty Sutton, D-Chardon, was chosen to serve on the Rules Committee. She succeeds Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Avon, who was elected to the U.S. Senate.