Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin has not only become chairman of the Senate Ag Committee with the Senate’s change in party power, but he’s now heading an appropriations subcommittee that budgets for education, Medicare, Social Security and job training. He calls it a major responsibility.Harkin says education is his top priority as they build on the work they’ve already begun.Harkin says he also wants to improve the quality and affordability of health care.A House panel has approved spending at least 40-million dollars for modernization of the National Animal Disease Labs in Ames, although Harkin says the whole project will cost millions more.Harkin, as chairman of the Ag Committee, will schedule the confirmation hearing for Tom Dorr, the Iowan whose nomination to be undersecretary of agriculture for rural development is under fire. Dorr has been criticized for saying three rural counties in Iowa may have had economic success because they are predominantly white, with a shared religion like Catholicism or Dutch Reformed. Democrats took control of the U-S Senate yesterday as one Senator switched parties, breaking the 50/50 split that had Republicans in control with Vice President Dick Cheney in the Senate President’s chair.
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