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First of all, a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable Christmas weekend with family and friends.
With the new year comes a new Congress, the 112th, which officially began Jan. 5. As the real business at hand gets cranked up, there is a good bit to report.
Lots of folks have asked about our local offices. Our first office will be in Rock Hill, on Ebenezer Road. This was a fairly simple decision, as more than 50 percent of the District 5 population lives within 20 miles of there.
However, we won’t have phone numbers and e-mail information until after Jan. 5. We also plan on opening another office in the district, probably this summer. And our political office will stay open on Main Street in Lancaster.
Additionally, we will have regular constituent service hours from 1 to 4 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at the Indian Land library. We will be adding some hours in Lancaster as well.
Finally, our district staff will travel regularly to each and every county. In other words, we will do everything possible to bring the congressional office to you. Again, as soon as phone, fax and e-mail are available, we will let everyone know.
We have also assembled a very capable constituent service team. In fact, we were especially pleased to have one of John Spratt’s most senior caseworkers agree to stay on with us. Spratt’s staff was well known for excellent constituent service and we are dedicated to doing just as well, if not better. Completing casework and serving as your contact with the federal government is not about politics. It’s about serving people.
Many people have also asked me which committees I will serve on in Washington next year. I’ve been appointed to both the Budget Committee and the Committee on Small Business. Each of these committees will have very important roles next year.
As most folks in the district already know, the Budget Committee is one of the most influential committees in Congress. In short, our work is very similar to what an architect does. We have the enormous task of creating a spending blueprint that others can understand and agree with. We then have an equally tough task of explaining our design.
And, finally, it’s up to us to keep an eye on the other committees and speak up if they don’t follow the plan.
Hopefully, we will also be able to make changes to how the federal budget is actually written. Right now, the approach actually makes it easier for the government to spend more, not less. That needs to change.
I was also excited about being chosen for the Small Business Committee. Though this isn’t one of the flashier committees, it’s one of the most important to this area. About four out of every five jobs in the 5th District are at small businesses. So, to keep our economy going and create jobs, we need to keep our small businesses strong.
And the task of the Small Business Committee is to do just that. One of its primary functions is to look at any piece of legislation and investigate how it would help or hurt small businesses. That means when it comes to speaking up against harmful government regulations and mandates next year, I will be on the front lines.
So, all in all, we are looking forward to hitting the ground running. Again, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year. Please be safe and look for another column this time next month as I continue to keep you updated on what’s happening in the 5th District and the capitol.