U.S. Rep. Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, said Friday that House leadership appointed him to the House Agriculture Committee, one of his major goals.
Fellow freshman Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville also will serve on the agriculture panel.
Also Friday, Enyart and Davis voted for the first time on a major piece of legislation: They supported a bill to provide $9.7 billion worth of relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey.
Veteran Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, also voted for the Sandy bill.
Enyart and Davis joined the 113th Congress on Thursday. Enyart represents the 12th U.S. House District, which includes most of the metro-east, and replaces former Rep. Jerry Costello. Davis represents the 13th U.S. House District, which includes parts of Edwardsville and Collinsville.
"Agriculture is an integral part of the Southern Illinois economy, and our farmers are an important part of our community," Enyart said in a statement. "I am very pleased to be named to the House Committee on Agriculture where I will have the opportunity to work on farming issues so critical to Southern Illinois."
In his statement, Enyart said that Southern Illinois is grappling with one of the worst droughts in decades.
"Congress can do better than keep farmers in limbo, and I look forward to developing common-sense reforms in the 2013 Farm Bill," he said. "We cannot let Washington dysfunction hamper the success of our farmers, and I am committed to ensuring that their voices are heard."
The Hurricane Sandy relief measure approved Friday aims to help property owners recover insurance costs associated with the late October super-storm, which pummeled the coastal areas of New Jersey and southern New York, causing an estimated $60 billion in property damage.
The relief measure passed overwhelmingly 354-67. The Senate passed it unanimously. It now goes to President Barack Obama, who has already pledged to sign it.
Congress is expected to vote on a package of other hurricane relief measures later this month, but they are expected to encounter much tougher resistance from Republican lawmakers aiming to cut federal spending.
Davis also has been appointed to the House Transportation Committee.
Enyart, a Belleville lawyer and a retired commander of the Illinois National Guard, had already been appointed to the House Armed Services Committee, a post that improves his opportunity for protecting Scott Air Force Base from expected cuts in military spending.
"By serving on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Agriculture, I will be a strong advocate to protect Scott Air Force Base and to fight for Southern Illinois farmers," Enyart said. "My top priority is good jobs in Southern Illinois so folks can have confidence in our economy, and we can build strong future for all of our families."
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at email@example.com or 618-239-2533.