John Kline, the Gregarious Grandpa who represented Minnesota’s Second District for over a decade, has been replaced by Jason Lewis who campaigned on “lower taxes, tackling the national debt, and restoring American freedoms.”
While John Kline was Chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee and a prominent member of the House Armed Services Committee, it would seem that a “newbie” would not be given opportunities to shape policies to achieve his campaign goals … but that is wrong.
Want proof … read the April 23, 2013 Star-Tribune story “Minnesota Rep. Kline holds chair but title holds less power”.
Chairman Kline was a foot soldier for Speaker Boehner.
Yeah, you saw the campaign commercials proclaiming his work on behalf of the “Red Bulls” (without acknowledging that Minnesota State Representative Phil Sterner DFL-Rosemont had pushed the issue and that the Minnesota National Guard press release praised Kline, Tim Walz and Amy Klobuchar — in other words, any elected Member of Congress would have done exactly what Kline did);
protecting children from sexual predators (once again not mentioning that there was no opposition to the bills);
advocating for more funding for Special Education (yet failed to allow a hearing on the IDEA Full Funding Act which had bipartisan support) — which really resulted in approving requests the Obama Administration made;
funding for charter schools (the SOAR Act was a Boehner pet project);
funding for Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig school (after being shamed by the Strib yet leaving other native Indian schools in other states underfunded); etc.
John Kline did have some successes … he was able to “reform” the student loan program — ensuring that the US Treasury makes a profit on school loans. He was able to insert into the “CRomnibus” bill provisions to address multiple employer pension programs … which pensioners found about after that fact and is still causing problems today. And of course, Chairman Kline was able to “reform” No Child Left Behind … which barely passed the Republican controlled House 218-213 … after withstanding 125 proposed amendments and delayed votes.
Yep, the “power” of the gavel is controlled by leadership (and the “wag the dog” management must factor in the Freedom Caucus … which was able to oust Speaker Boehner.)
So with issues like the future of healthcare, pensions, school funding including school lunches and Pell grants, and infrastructure all being impacted by the budget and national debt, this new Congress has quite a few opportunities.
And stepping into the center of that attention is Jason Lewis.
Jason Lewis has been assigned to three committees.
The Committee on the Budget has 21 Republicans (all men) with Jason Lewis slotted in at 15 (but could move up if Chairman Tom Price is approved as Trump’s HHS secretary.)
The Education and Workforce Committee has 22 Republicans with Jason Lewis slotted in at 17.
The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has 34 Republicans with Jason Lewis slotted in at 34.
What an opportunistic combo — from pensions to healthcare to education, all these issues will be assigned to these committees.
Yep, Jason Lewis will have more impact on spending and programs than Chairman Kline … leaving his constituents to evaluate whether he is truly an “independent voice” or the spokesman for the Freedom Caucus.