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Hastings tapped for top spot on house panel

First for Washington state

Congressman Doc Hastings has been elected to the top Republican spot on the House Committee on Natural Resources for the 111th Congress, which will be sworn in on Jan. 6, 2009.

The eight-term central Washington lawmaker succeeds Rep. Don Young of Alaska, the second most senior Republican in the House, who opted Wednesday not to seek another term as the panel's Ranking Republican Member.

The Committee on Natural Resources has jurisdiction over most of the nation's public lands and plays a pivotal role in shaping federal energy, environment, land use and natural resource policies.

"This post offers an opportunity to make a real difference for families and communities across the West and throughout rural America," said Hastings. "As ranking member, I will work to strike a responsible balance between protecting our nation's many natural treasures and spurring economic recovery through the wise use of our energy, water, mineral and timber resources."

Hastings served on the Natural Resources Committee during his first term in Congress, before moving in 1997 to the powerful House Rules Committee where his responsibilities included managing floor debate on the rules for virtually every Natural Resources bill considered during the past 12 years.

According to the Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress, Hastings is poised to become the first lawmaker -- Democrat or Republican -- in Washington State's 109 year history to serve as chairman or ranking minority member of two different standing committees of the House.

From 2005-07, Hastings served as Chairman of the House Ethics Committee and from 2007-08 as its Ranking Republican Member. He will step down from Ethics in January to assume the top position at Natural Resources.


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