Minnesota Senator Al Franken was named to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev).
The Committee Chairman, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), issued a press release saying, "We welcome Senator Franken as a member of the committee, and look forward to having his help as the committee works to improve the lives of Native Americans, meet the federal government's treaty obligations, and strengthen health care, law enforcement and economic development efforts in their communities."
Sen. Franken, a Democrat, was sworn in to the Senate on July 7, 2009 after a contentious ballot recount from last November's election. Minnesota is home to about 40,000 Indians.
Franken became famous as a writer and comedian for the Saturday Night Live television show. Franken later became an author and nationally syndicated radio show on Air America Radio.
The Indian Affairs Committee is currently comprised of 15 Senators but is authorized to have up to 18 members. None of the current members are Senators from the East Coast.
The Committee is responsible for "all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to Indian affairs shall be referred to the select committee." It is also the duty of the Committee to "study of any and all matters pertaining to problems and opportunities of Indians, including but not limited to, Indian land management and trust responsibilities, Indian education, health, special services, and loan programs, and Indian claims against the United States." The Committee may also conduct investigations into any matter within its jurisdiction.
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