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The U.S.S. Ted Stevens

Proving once again that Congress is still about relationships, appropriators have at least found something on which they can agree: naming a warship after a late colleague.

The spending bill unveiled Monday by the House contains a provision expressing the sense of the Senate that the next large naval warship be named for former Senate Appropriations Chairman Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

Stevens, who died in an August 2010 plane crash in his beloved home state, served at various points over the decades as the chairman and ranking member on the subcommittee in charge of the Pentagon’s budget. Stevens had been in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Senate appropriators tucked the provision into their defense spending bill last year, adopting an amendment during an August markup championed by Stevens’ longtime friend and “brother,” Chairman Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, along with the panel’s top Republican at the time, Thad Cochran of Mississippi. Inouye himself died in December. Alaska GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski also spoke in support of the U.S.S. Ted Stevens designation at the meeting.

“Ted Stevens didn’t play favorites with the — the various services. He loved them all. He embraced them all,” Murkowski said. “Whether you were an airman, a solider, a Coast Guard man, a sailor, Ted Stevens was there for our military.”

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