Rep. Jefferson Happy With New Assignment

The Associated Press
Wednesday, December 13, 2006; 5:51 PM

WASHINGTON -- A day after being denied a seat on the prestigious Ways and Means Committee, beleaguered Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson said Wednesday he was pleased with his new assignment on the Small Business Committee.

The Democratic Steering Committee decided Tuesday that Jefferson, stripped of his spot on the Ways and Means panel last June, won't be reassigned to that committee until a federal bribery investigation involving him is completed.

On Wednesday the Steering Committee said Jefferson, who won a runoff election last Saturday to claim a ninth term representing his New Orleans district, would join the Small Business Committee, one of the more low-profile committees in Congress.

Jefferson, in a statement, said he appreciated the granting of his request to join Small Business because "it allows me to focus on areas of our (Katrina) recovery that deserve more attention such as the Small Business Administration loan program."

He also thanked the steering committee for protecting his seniority on Ways and Means, the committee that sets tax, welfare and trade policy, "and the opportunity to return at a later date."

Jefferson has denied any wrongdoing in the corruption investigation that included an FBI document asserting that agents had found $90,000 in bribe money in the Louisiana Democrat's freezer. He has not been charged with any crime.

© 2006 The Associated Press