Kirk on key homeland security, armed services panels –

Senator Paul G. Kirk Jr., moving full-speed into his new job in Congress, received his committee assignments yesterday, will participate in his first committee hearing today, and by day’s end could cast his first vote, on a major defense spending bill.

After a series of meetings yesterday, top Senate Democrats placed Kirk on two committees with jurisdiction over issues crucial to the Bay State: the Armed Services Committee, which supervises the military and plays a role in defense spending, and the Homeland Security Committee, responsible for supervising the nation’s defenses against terrorism.

Kirk said in a statement yesterday that he’s prepared for his new responsibilities with the nation and his constituents in mind. “With Massachusetts’ sons and daughters courageously serving on the front lines overseas, and our first responders bravely protecting our citizens at home, I’m deeply honored to serve the people of Massachusetts on these committees,’’ he said.

Though he won’t sit on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee – the powerful body helping to craft a sweeping health care overhaul bill – Kirk vowed to be “a strong voice and a vote’’ for reform. The committee had been led by the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Kirk’s predecessor, mentor, and close friend.