By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
June 2, 2007
Senior senator getting money for energy will be 'run uphill'
New Mexico’s senior senator had a big reminder for the state on Friday: He no longer chairs the Senate subcommittee that writes the U.S. Department of Energy’s budget and sends billions here from Washington.
“That little committee, which spends only $32 billion in the whole country, ... it’s the one that spends all the money on New Mexico — all the laboratory, all the Department of Energy, including ... defense energy,” U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said in an interview Friday with The New Mexican.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development helped send $4.4 billion to New Mexico in fiscal 2006. In contrast, the state’s entire budget was about $4.7 billion that year.
U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., took over the subcommittee after Democrats won control of Congress in the 2006 midterm election. Domenici explained the subcommittee appropriates money, and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which he formerly chaired, writes policy.
“Anytime you have anything done for New Mexico that comes out of (this committee) is not out of the Domenici-Bingaman bill; it’s out of the, what now is going to be — what’s our new chairman’s name? Yeah. Dorgan.”
Domenici said Dorgan has visited the national laboratories in New Mexico with him.
“He’s chairman; it just means he has one vote more,” Domenici said. “That’s what elections do. People wonder ... whether elections count. You can cite this one — that we now don’t have Pete in a chairman’s role there. We’ve got to run uphill.”
Domenici has cited his concern in the past about the lab budgets, much of which comes from the National Nuclear Security Administration. “The NNSA budgets are not growing, and I’m hoping to avoid deep cuts to the security mission by Congress,” he said in an interview last month.
On Friday, Domenici was in Santa Fe wrapping up an active week of statewide appearances that also included visits to Albuquerque, Española, Taos and Las Vegas.
Domenici has been in the Senate for six terms, since 1972, and says he will be running for a seventh term in 2008. “I am doing this all over again,” he said. “I am going to run.”
Domenici’s job approval rating, as tracked by Survey USA, was at 52 percent from May 11-13, down from 68 percent in November. However, his spokesman has said the senator is not concerned about the poll, and professional pollsters don’t take it seriously.
Domenici added: “I do have some exciting things to do, and the reason I’m running is because it’s fun. ... If I can stay ... on the right issues, ... it will be a fun last six years.”
Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or email@example.com.