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Nelson Hopes to Work Closely With Hoeven on Appropriations Panel

Sen. Ben Nelson, the chairman of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, reached out Monday to his new GOP counterpart with a message of collaboration, the Nebraska Democrat said.

The conversation between Nelson and freshman Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) was the first contact between the two former governors since the Appropriations Committee was organized last week, the chairman told Roll Call.

“We’ll talk, and we’ll try to work together and develop something,” Nelson said. “I think, as two former governors and Senators, we’ll be able to work together, as I did with Sen. [Lisa] Murkowski [R-Alaska]. We worked very closely together. I suggested to Sen. Hoeven that it’d be nice if we continued to do that.”

According to Nelson, Hoeven responded, “We’ll work together.”

Murkowski was Hoeven’s predecessor as ranking member of the panel, which oversees spending on Member offices and Congressional support agencies.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) outlined a fiscal 2011 spending plan last week that included capping the discretionary spending of that chamber’s Legislative Branch Subcommittee at 2 percent less than fiscal 2010 spending.

Nelson said he didn’t know whether the Senate would pass the same size cut. His goal for the panel in the 112th Congress is to “hold the line,” he added.

“Last budget we were flat, and we’re asking the groups under us to take a look at various different scenarios where they might cut back, not just across-the-board cuts, but program-specific cuts,” the Nebraska Democrat said. “You have to look very carefully at what you do so you don’t, in the whole name of cutting, destroy your operation.”

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