By Vicki Needham - 05/05/10 05:17 PM EDT
The 34-year wait for Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) is over ... almost.
For Dicks, two major changes on the House Appropriations Committee this year, has put in him line to lead one of Congress' most powerful panels.
The announcement Wednesday by House Appropriations Chairman David Obey's (D-Wis.) that he won't run for reelection after 42 years and the unexpected death earlier this year of Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) in February led to the apparent ascension.
If Democrats retain power in the House through the 2010 elections, Dicks will probably take over the committee for the 112th Congress.
When asked today, Obey said Dicks is next in line and he expects him to lead the panel. It's possible he could face challengers but it's unknown at this time who else may want the chairmanship.
For all those years of waiting, Dicks may now have to wait only seven more months.
At the start of 2010, Dicks was chairman of the Interior Subcommittee -- he then took over the Defense subpanel after Murtha died and today he moved to the front of the line to take over the panel in charge of spending after Obey's announcement.
The 17-term lawmaker -- who has held a seat since his first term on Capitol Hill -- would take the reins of the panel during a time of rising deficits and battles over federal government spending as President Barack Obama heads into the second half of his first term.
His expertise involves issues close to his state -- environmental issues including work on Puget Sound near Seattle and defense and national security issues. Boeing builds their 767 jetliners in Seattle.