12/18/06 — Rep. Butterfield will take new committe spot

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Rep. Butterfield will take new committe spot

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 18, 2006 1:45 PM

As a member of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, 1st District Congressman G.K. Butterfield has long been a friend to North Carolina's military bases. But, he said, just because he's stepping down from that post, Goldsboro and other military towns shouldn't feel forgotten -- and neither should the state's farmers as he also prepares to leave the House Committee on Agriculture in January.

"We're certainly not abandoning either the military or agriculture in North Carolina," Butterfield spokesman Ken Willis said.

In fact, Willis said, while it was not an easy decision for the congressman to make, it actually puts Butterfield in a position to accept an appointment to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, where he feels he will be able to do even more for North Carolina -- especially the eastern region.

"The Energy and Commerce Committee has, literally, the broadest legislative jurisdiction of any committee in the House," Willis said. "You have direct input at the committee level on a number of items. When you're at the committee level, it's much easier to direct funding and having a seat at the table will make a great deal of difference in getting resources.

"It's an exclusive committee with a lot of people vying for it. (Butterfield) pushed hard for this."

The committee is one of the House's oldest standing committees.

It oversees issues relating to telecommunications, consumer protection, food and drug safety, public health, air quality and environmental health, energy and interstate and foreign commerce. Members also have jurisdiction over five Cabinet-level departments and seven independent agencies, including the departments of Energy, Health and Human Services and Transportation, as well as the Food and Drug Administration, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission.

"It's an exciting appointment," Butterfield said. "The committee is going to be writing bills and laws on a myriad of issues and it's important that rural America and rural North Carolina don't get overlooked.

"It was a very difficult decision for me to leave the Armed Services Committee. Seymour Johnson is a very integral part of our district, as is Cherry Point Naval Air Station. But the reality is, I'm 59 years old and my rank on the Armed Services Committee was very low and because of my age, I would not be able to get into the leadership level.

"There's more opportunities on the Energy and Commerce Committee and given its broad legislative oversight, I thought I could do more for my district there."

It's his second major appointment in as many weeks.

The first was to one of nine deputy chief whip positions, where he will participate in creating the Democrat Party's strategy and agenda, as well as mobilizing votes.

"I find myself in two very important positions and I'm going to try to leverage those positions to improve life in eastern North Carolina," Butterfield said.