Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) is replacing the recently deceased Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she will command the task force of senators that determines federal spending on many endeavors including public broadcasting, Mikulski’s office announced Wednesday.
The 76-year-old Mikulski, the first woman to serve as Appropriations chair, is taking the role after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) turned down the offer.
Mikulski has a strong track record when it comes to public-broadcasting legislation. In 2009 she led an impassioned defense of the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program when proposed budget cuts threatened to eliminate it. PTFP was ultimately killed in 2011.
The Association of Public Television Stations congratulated Mikulski on her new role. “Senator Mikulski has been an ardent and long-time champion of public broadcasting, and we look forward to working with her to strengthen this system’s capacity to pursue its public service mission of education, information, cultural preservation and public safety,” APTS CEO Pat Butler said in a release Thursday. Butler is chairman emeritus of the Maryland Public Television Foundation, in the senator’s home state.