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Associated Press, Published November 09 2010

Hoeven, Berg prepare for new Congress jobs

BISMARCK – North Dakota’s newly elected members of Congress have started putting together office staffs and exploring committee assignments, although U.S. Sen.-elect John Hoeven already has assurances he’ll land spots on two key Senate panels.

U.S. Rep.-elect Rick Berg said he was keeping “an open mind” about potential committee assignments but mentioned the U.S. House’s energy, agriculture and financial services committees as possibilities.

Hoeven and Berg will attend orientation for new members of Congress in Washington next week. Berg defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., while Hoeven, who beat Democratic challenger Tracy Potter, is succeeding retiring Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan.

The Senate’s Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has already promised Hoeven spots on the Senate’s appropriations and energy committees, Hoeven spokesman Don Canton said Monday.

Dorgan holds spots on the Senate’s appropriations, energy and commerce committees and is chairman of the Senate’s Indian Affairs Committee. Pomeroy is a member of the House Ways and Means and agriculture panels. Freshman House members typically are not placed on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over taxation and trade issues.

Berg said he has been reaching out to other Republicans in the House’s freshman class, which totals more than 80 members, as well as trying to recruit staff. He said he ­hasn’t decided how many North Dakota offices he will have or where they will be located.

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