As Congressman Bruce Braley of Waterloo enters his second term, he has won a seat on an influential committee. Braley’s been appointed to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
According to Braley, the most important domestic policy issues Congress and the Obama Administration plan to tackle in the coming year will be addressed by the panel.
"It’s going to have a real impact on creating jobs and creating opportunities to change the direction of our energy policy and our health care policy," Braley said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa, "so I just felt it would be important to have a seat at the table, particularly given the important role Iowa is playing in the renewable energy boom."
It’s a "plum" assignment, according to Braley, who was appointed to the committee along with seven others who — like Braley — first won election to the House in 2006.
"They are good friends of mine who I’ve had the opportunity to work with very closely over the last two years and I think it’s a signal of the important emphasis that the leadership is placing on changing the direction of our domestic policy on health care and energy issues," Braley said. "That’s what makes it such an exciting time to join the committee."
The committee’s makeup was scrambled, in part, by a decision among Democrats in congress to remove a Michigan congressman as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Accounts of that private meeting indicate Braley gave a passionate speech to his fellow Democrats, arguing a California congressman should head the panel instead.
"I worked very closely with the incoming chairman, Henry Waxman, for two years as my chairman of the (House) Oversight and Govenrment Reform Committee," Braley told Radio Iowa, "and I saw the type of things he was able to accomplish and I saw his leadership style and I felt like he would be the perfect person to help President Obama bring about real change in these areas that are so important."
The committee’s former chairman was no friend of corn-based ethanol, either. Braley said a "real world" perspective on ethanol is key. "One of the things that I have, that I bring to the committee, is a background of having a family history of being involved in agriculture in this state for about 150 years," Braley said today. "I’ve got a lot of ethanol plants in my district. I have a lot of farmers who sell into those plants and I’ve seen them go through boom times and lean times."
The Energy and Commerce Committee also considers federal policies on telecommunications issues and the Internet. In his first term, Braley served on the Small Business, Transportation, and Government Oversight Committees.