Originally posted on the Post-Gazette.com on January 16, 2019
By Tracie Mauriello
Three Pennsylvanians now have seats on one of the most influential committees in Congress.
U.S. Reps. Dwight Evans and Brendan Boyle, both D-Philadelphia, are among 10 newly appointed Democratic members of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. They join U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, a veteran member who on Wednesday was elevated to ranking member of the Oversight Subcommittee.
“I am enormously honored … to serve as an official guardian of America’s precious taxpayer dollars,” said Mr. Kelly, a fiscal conservative and Donald Trump loyalist who worked on the committee last year to pass the president’s tax-cut plan.
The Oversight Subcommittee has jurisdiction over the Internal Revenue Service and oversees policy implementation in a number of areas include trade, health, worker and family support, and Social Security.
Lawmakers covet appointments to Ways and Means because of the committee’s influence on economic policy.
“I worked hard to get on this influential committee because it means I will have a stronger platform to fight for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and the region,” Mr. Evans said in a written statement.
Mr. Evans said he will work within the committee to address pension reform, infrastructure improvements and reconsideration of the tax cuts implemented in the last Congress when Republicans controlled the House.
Pennsylvania – and the Philadelphia region in particular – has had a consistent presence on the committee for several years. In previous congresses, Ways and Means Committee members have included former Reps. Allyson Schwartz, Pat Meehan, and Jim Gerlach.
“Pennsylvania is well represented on Ways and Means,” said Mr. Kelly, who has been a member of the panel since 2013. It’s important, he said, to have state delegation members on committees with strong jurisdiction “to make sure the policies they come up with are in fact sound policy that continues to allow us to move forward.”
Democrats and Republicans are likely to spar over many issues, including, an effort to make the president’s tax returns public, which Democrats like Mr. Evans support but and Republicans don’t.
But Mr. Kelly said he expects that the Oversight Subcommittee — chaired by U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. – will not be partisan.
“Our job isn’t to be the strongest Democrat in the room or the strongest Republican in the room but to be a strong American and a watchdog for the taxpayers,” he said. “For me, this has nothing to do with any partisanship. This has to do with making sure we protect the American taxpayers.”
Washington Bureau Chief Tracie Mauriello: firstname.lastname@example.org; 703-996-9292 or on Twitter @pgPoliTweets.