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COOK NAMED TO BANKING, TRANSPORTATION PANELS

SHARE COOK NAMED TO BANKING, TRANSPORTATION PANELS

He didn't get his long-shot, dream committee assignment, but Rep.-elect Merrill Cook, R-Utah, was appointed Friday to the other two posts that he wanted the most.

He was named to the Transportation Committee and the Banking and Financial Services Committee. He did not receive, however, a hoped-for slot on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.Because of his work in past tax-limitation drives, "Everyone knew I wanted the Ways and Means Committee, but that was pretty tough for this time around," Cook said.

Slots on that powerful committee normally go only to more senior members, although a freshman or two sometimes wins one.

Cook said because he knew that was a long shot, he had been lobbying hard for the two committees he did receive.

"Transportation is critical to my district," he said, especially with the reconstruction of I-15 and light-rail projects scheduled to begin soon. They depend on continued federal funding.

He said even Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini, a Democrat, helped him lobby leaders for the slot and lined up letters of support from the U.S. Olympic Committee to help ensure transportation projects are completed before the 2002 Olympics.

Cook said the Banking committee is also "a natural because I have a Harvard MBA and because of my business experience" running a family explosives manufacturing company.

"I really couldn't be happier. I worked hard for those two slots, and that's exactly what I received." Rep.-elect Chris Cannon, R-Utah, had planned to travel back to Utah Friday evening and could not be reached for comment about whether he had been notified of his new committee assignments.