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Published January 14 2010

Forum editorial: Dorgan will seek flood funds

There is no doubt the loss of Sen. Byron Dorgan’s Senate seniority and committee clout will be felt in North Dakota. The Democratic senator announced last week that he would close out 30 years in the U.S. Congress, 18 of those years in the Senate. The news was greeted with deep concern in Fargo because of Dorgan’s vital role in securing federal funding for a permanent flood control project.

This week, the senator assured Fargo officials that the city’s flood project still is a priority. There is no reason to believe otherwise. After all, Dorgan has another year before he retires. Given his record of service to North Dakota

and his understanding of the Red River Valley flood threat, it’s a safe bet he’ll be focusing on the Fargo-Moorhead project.

Dorgan is not alone in working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move flood control forward. Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., is a respected and powerful senator. He, too, will be paying close attention to the valley’s needs. And the local flood project is a two-state concern, which means Minnesota’s senators will be working with North Dakota’s senators to get funding approved. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said as much this week in meeting with The Forum’s Editorial Board.

Moreover, the likelihood that Republican Gov. John Hoeven will be the next senator from North Dakota could work in the state’s favor regarding flood control funding. As a successful governor Hoeven will immediately command a measure of respect among his new colleagues. Additionally, as a member of the Senate minority, he might be well-positioned to convince sometimes-reluctant Republicans to support an expensive, but necessary, permanent flood control solution on the Red River.

And if the governor is elected to the Senate, he should try to be named to the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee, the panel that writes the bill that funds the corps. Dorgan is chairman of the subcommittee.

Finally, North Dakota and Minnesota have two House members whose seniority and committee assignments position them to influence funding for Red River Valley flood control. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., is a member of Ways and Means, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Both have been around a long time and know how to build coalitions to move legislation.

In his last year in the Senate, Dorgan will work hard for North Dakota, as he always has. F-M flood control funding is high on his to-do list – which means he likely will get it done.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.