U.S. Sen. Tom Udall has been appointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, giving New Mexico a voice on the powerful panel for the first time since his predecessor retired in 2008.
The Democrat says having a seat on the committee that decides how much money is spent on federal programs and projects is meaningful for New Mexico because it will enable him to better defend funding for the state's federal labs, military bases and public lands.
His predecessor, Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, was an influential member of the panel for many of his more than 30 years in office.
In the House, Democratic Rep. Ben Ray Lujan has been named to the House Energy and Commerce Committee , another panel that handles issues important to New Mexico.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.