By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) will head the Senate Indian Affairs Committee for the 113th Congress. She replaces Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) who is retiring after 22 years in the Senate.
“I am honored to be selected to chair the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, following the tremendous leadership of Senator Akaka,” Sen. Cantwell said in a statement on Wednesday, Dec. 12. “I am proud of my work with Washington state Tribes on issues such as self-determination, education, health care and environmental issues including salmon restoration.”
Sen. Cantwell, who will be the first female chair of the Committee, will continue her membership on the following committees: Commerce, Science and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Finance; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
Her chair appointment was announced by the Democratic Steering Committee on Dec. 12 along with all of the other committee appointments which are subject to approval by the Democratic caucus and the full Senate.
“I am excited to work with the members of our expanded majority,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “Our caucus is more diverse than ever, with a record sixteen female Democratic senators serving in the next Congress.”
Sen. Akaka gave his farewell address on Dec. 12 and stated, “I am proud to be the first Native Hawaiian ever to serve in the Senate, just as I am so proud to be one of the three U.S. Army World War II veterans who remain in the Senate today.”
“It is our responsibility as a nation to do right by America’s Native people, those who exercised sovereignty on lands that later became part of the United States. While we can never change the past, we have the power to change the future. Throughout my career, I have worked to ensure that my colleagues understand the federal relationship with Native peoples, and its origins in the Constitution.”
Sen. Cantwell is slated to be joined by the following Democrats on the Indian Affairs Committee: Sen. Daniel Inouye (Hawaii), Sen. Tim Johnson (SD), Sen. Jon Tester (MT), Sen. Tom Udall (NM), Sen. Al Franken (Minn.), Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska), and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (ND).