Cravaack lands spot on Transportation Committee, which Oberstar currently chairs

WASHINGTON — Chip Cravaack has landed a spot on the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the same panel that Jim Oberstar, the man he defeated in November, currently chairs.

Chairman-designate John Mica said today Cravaack and 20 other House Republicans would join the panel. Decisions on subcommittee assignments will be made in January. Democrat Tim Walz is the other Minnesotan currently on the committee, though Dems haven’t released their committee rosters yet.

“The new members of the Committee will be rolling up their sleeves and helping to improve our nation’s infrastructure, put people back to work, get stalled projects moving, and conduct aggressive oversight of transportation projects and policy,” Mica said in a statement announcing the new GOP members of the panel. “The Committee and its new Republican Members will be at the forefront of cutting government waste and red tape, and to finding cost effective solutions for getting our country moving in the right direction.”

The 8th District has a long history with the Transportation Committee. Oberstar chaired the panel for so many years he earned the nickname “Mr. Transportation,” and before coming to Congress worked as a committee staffer under his predecessor John Blatnik, who also chaired the committee.

Update: Cravaack said he’s “very, very excited” to be named to Transportation, which was a top choice for him alongside Energy and Commerce (which he didn’t get). And which subcommittee would he like to have?

“I’d like to get on the Aviation Subcommittee, that’s where I can best serve,” said Cravaack, who is a former pilot. “I think I can bring some expertise to that area. Another area would be Coast Guard and maritime transportation, since we have the Port of Duluth as well.”

Cravaack has taken some heat in the Duluth area over comments he made regarding the $65 million airport terminal project there. Asked about the project, which is heavily funded by federal dollars, Cravaack said “Is it a need or a want, and can we afford it? That truly is the bottom line…. We have to rein in spending. We cannot spend more than we take in.”

Today, Cravaack clarified that he does indeed support the airport renovations in Duluth, saying his statement was generally that a discussion needs to happens on wants v. needs, not that Duluth’s airport project was anything other than a need (though I should say that’s not how it sounded at the time).

“What they’re doing at the airport, we need in Duluth,” Cravaack said. “What we have to do is be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer dollars.”

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