LaTourette: Ryan will get seat on transport panel



LaTourette said one of his priorities will be to persuade an airline to 'run at least a couple of flights' out of Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan's appointment to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is a "done deal," according to U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, the only Ohioan serving on that committee.
LaTourette, of Madison, R-14th, said he was informed by a Democratic House colleague, whom he declined to name but said has knowledge of Democratic committee assignments, that Ryan would be named to the transportation committee.
A final decision on who will fill the seven vacant Democratic seats on the transportation panel, the largest committee in the House, should be made toward the end of the month, said Jim Berard, the committee's Democratic spokesman.
"Congressman Ryan is a candidate, but there are many, many candidates," Berard said. "It's a very competitive field. Almost every freshman has asked for an assignment to the committee. There may be a few experienced members interested in seats too."
Would welcome Ryan
LaTourette said he would be thrilled to have Ryan, of Niles, D-17th, join him on the transportation committee. The last time LaTourette had a fellow Ohioan on the committee with him was then-U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. in 2000. Traficant was removed from the committee in January 2001 when the Democrat crossed party lines and voted for a Republican for speaker of the House.
Ryan, who used to work for Traficant as a legislative aide, defeated his former boss, running as an independent, and Republican Ann Womer Benjamin in the November election.
Ryan, whose district includes portions of Mahoning and Trumbull counties, has repeatedly said getting on the committee was his top priority.
The committee is responsible for allocating federal funds for transportation projects, federal buildings and green space preservation.
Patrick Lowry, Ryan's spokesman, said nothing official has been decided but that the congressman is working hard to get onto the committee.
There are 75 members on the transportation committee, 41 Republicans and 34 Democrats. The Republicans announced Thursday that 31 members were reappointed to the committee and 10 new members were added.
Airport issue
LaTourette said one of his priorities on the committee will be to work toward persuading an airline to "run at least a couple of flights" out of the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. The airport, located in Vienna, offers no commercial flights. LaTourette's congressional district includes seven northern townships in Trumbull County.
LaTourette, considered Traficant's closest friend in Congress, said the two had a very strong working relationship on the transportation committee, and he hopes to work as well with Ryan once he is named to the body.
Ryan's committee assignments are not finalized, but LaTourette and U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland of Lucasville, D-6th, have received theirs.
Strickland, whose district includes Columbiana County and a portion of Mahoning County, is retaining his seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and will continue to serve on its health, energy and clean air, and oversight and investigations subcommittees.
LaTourette remains on these House committees: Financial Services; Government Reform; Standards of Official Conduct; and Transportation and Infrastructure, and chairman of its public buildings, economic development and emergency management subcommittees.
skolnick@vindy.com

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