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Missouri congressional delegation, smaller but mighty

With word coming last week that Congressman Jason Smith had been named to the ultra important House Ways and Means Committee, and Congresswoman Ann Wagner to a position on the House leadership team, Missouri’s group of representatives and senators may be smaller than ever, but one could argue it is as powerful as ever.

The once-every-ten years census, and the congressional reapportionment that comes from that have not been kind to the state of Missouri. Many of us can remember when Missouri had ten representatives in the U. S. House of Representatives. That number shrunk after the 1980 census, and then again after the census of 2000, as Missouri’s population declined in relation to other states.

Despite the smaller numbers, Missouri representatives and senators continue to make names for themselves on Capitol Hill, especially on committees and in roles that are important for Missouri business.

Cong. Jason Smith (MO-8) at 34 is Congress’ second youngest member. But the lawyer from Salem is moving quickly up the Republican hierarchy in the House. After caucuses following the November elections, Smith was named to the powerful House Ways and means Committee. This after just one two-year term in the House, the fastest that any member of the committee has found a seat on this important committee that works on legislation on the U.S. tax code. Smith is the first Missouri congressman to sit on the committee since Kenny Hulshof from 1997 – 2008.

“The Ways and Means committee will be at the forefront of reform in the 114th  Congress, and Jason Smith – who will be the youngest members of the committee – will have an important role to play as the committee takes on issues like reforming our tax code, making health care more affordable, and strengthening safety net programs like Medicare and Social Security,” said Ways and Means chairman Paul Ryan.

Smith, in a release from his office says his priorities on the committee include reforming the tax code, promoting free and fair trade, ensuring Social Security solvency, and working to fix our broken healthcare system.

Congresswoman Ann Wagner (MO-2) is also just starting her second two year term in the U.S. House, but as a former ambassador and Republican National Committee member, Wagner quickly caught the eye of House leadership as a fast rising star. For the second term in a row, Wagner has been elected to the House Leadership Committee and will serve as the Senior Deputy Whip.

“It’s truly an honor to be elected by my classmates to serve as their voice on the Elected Leadership Committee for the 114th Congress,” said Wagner. “This is a tremendous opportunity to not only advocate for my colleagues in Congress, but to ensure that the values and priorities of the people in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District are well represented in the Republican House Leadership.”

Wagner will also continue to serve on the House Financial Service Committee. The committee is key to her district and the St. Louis region where 84,000 people are employed in the financial services industry with a total payroll about $4.57 billion.

Also joining Wagner on the Financial Services Committee is Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-3).

The House Financial Services Committee has jurisdiction over the nation’s financial services and housing sectors including banking, insurance, real estate, public and assisted housing, securities, and domestic and international monetary policy. The committee is responsible for reviewing the laws and programs of the Federal Reserve Bank, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, among other federal government agencies.

The former banker, small businessman and bank examiner from St. Elizabeth, heads the subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit.

Cong. Luetkemeyer also serves as vice chair of the House Small Business Committee. That’s where he joins Missouri Congressman Sam Graves (MO-6). Graves serves as the Chairman of the Small Business Committee.

Cong. Graves says small businesses create 7 out of every 10 jobs in the United States, and “it is important that our policies encourage innovators and entrepreneurs to follow their dreams and create jobs.”

Cong. Graves also serves on the House Transportation Committee where “he continues to fight for Missouri roads, bridges, waterways, rail lines and airports,” according to his website.

Congressman Billy Long (MO-7) of Springfield serves on the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee. The committee, among other duties, is heavily involved with legislation on international trade. Cong. Long recently received the National Association of Manufacturer’s Award for Manufacturing Legislative Excellence, garnering a 100 percent voting record on key manufacturing votes.

Another friend of business in the U.S. House is Rep. Vicky Hartzler (MO-4). Hartzler, who runs a farm implement business with her husband in Harrisonville, keeps an eye on vital defense jobs in Missouri as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and also helps set agriculture policy as a member of the House Agriculture Committee…and she is Missouri’s only member of the House Committee on the Budget.

Veteran Democratic Congressman William Lacy Clay (MO-1) is a member of the large Missouri contingent on the House Financial Services Committee. And he is the ranking member on the newly created subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy and Technology. The subcommittee will have oversight responsibilities over the Federal Reserve, the Export-Import Bank of the United States and the International Monetary Fund.

And Kansas City Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5) also serves on the House Financial Services Committee.

Long known as one of the Republicans behind the scenes leaders on Capitol Hill, Senator Roy Blunt currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. He also serves as a member of the Senate Republican Whip team, which is responsible for counting votes and helping Republican Party members with legislation.

Blunt serves on several committees including the budget-writing Appropriations Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he is ranking member of the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine, Infrastructure, Safety and Security Subcommittee.

Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill made a name for herself as having the ear of the President during the early days of the Obama Administration. Lately, she’s become known as a staunch watchdog on government spending from her chairmanships of subcommittees of the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and the Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs. She has also broken ranks with fellow Democrats on issues such as EPA oversight and energy policy, including her recent vote in favor of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

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