The 115th Congress is now in session. There is a buzz in Washington, D.C. that is common when transition is in the air. However, this buzz may be louder and more expectant than those of times past. The Republican Party has control of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the White House — and there are plenty of campaign promises that constituents are looking for lawmakers to keep.
But before the work on those projects can begin in earnest, there were simple housekeeping tasks that had to be done. Some of that work was completed Tuesday. First, new members from both houses needed to be sworn in. In the Senate, Sen. Johnny Isakson, after winning his third term in November, was escorted to his swearing-in ceremony by Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga. and former Georgia Sens. Mack Mattingly and Saxby Chambliss.
After that easy chore was completed, and no real drama concerning the majority party’s leadership positions, the next order of business — very important business — was waiting: Which lawmakers would sit on which committees?
For the 114th Congress this Editorial Board lamented the fact that while our area had representation on a number of committees, we lacked bench strength on one very powerful committee: The Senate Committee on Armed Services — this at a time when the committee was dominated by Senate heavyweights lead by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and with BRAC on the horizon. All of that changed Tuesday with the appointment of Perdue to the Armed Services Committee. While Perdue loses Judiciary and Foreign Relations, he picks up Banking and remains on the Budget Committee.
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While we recognize Rep. Austin Scott’s invaluable participation on the House Armed Services Committee, having a Senate colleague in a similar position is good news for Robins Air Force Base. And the two also share similar positions in their respective chambers agricultural committees. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., also serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. How important is agriculture to Georgia? Try putting on $74.35 billion annually for size, according to UGA’s Center for Agribusiness & Economic Development.
Georgia’s senior Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., won’t be sitting around taking it easy. He’s a double chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and the Select Committee on Ethics, plus serves on several subcommittees.
The Middle Georgia delegation with Perdue, Scott, Bishop and our adopted Middle Georgian, Sen. Isakson, form a powerful coalition when this Continuing Resolution cycle ends in just a few months and will hopefully strike “sequestration” from the Pentagon’s lexicon.