WASHINGTON -- Rep. Tim Walz took on a new committee this week, swapping Transportation and Infrastructure for House Armed Services, which places the 5th-term Democrat on two of the more powerful committees dealing with military and veterans issues.

In a statement, Walz, the highest ranking enlisted soldier to serve in Congress, said he was looking forward to the new challenge.

Only one Minnesotan, Democratic Rep. Rick Nolan, now serves on Transportation and Infrastructure -- a committee historically important to the state, which has a long list of infrastructure needs. The late Rep. Jim Oberstar, who served 36 years in the House, chaired the committee back in the 2000s.

Transpo/Infrastructure was among newly elected GOP Rep. Tom Emmer's top committee choices, but the freshman was placed on Agriculture and Foreign Affairs instead.

Walz's spokesman Tony Ufkin said Friday the committee "isn't what it used to be" with the elimination of earmarks and that Congressman Walz still plans on working on infrastructure needs in his district.

"We kind of feel like you can be a strong transportation advocate, while not being on the committee so I don't think a whole lot has changed here," he said.

Ufkin said his boss getting a slot on Armed Services means he has more venues to push veterans and military reform legislation -- like a personality disorder bill, which looks at veterans who may have been discharged unfairly.

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