Committee assignments are top priorities

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

When I am not casting a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives or visiting with groups in my office, a large percentage of my time in Washington is spent serving on committees.

There are currently 20 standing committees in the House, and each member of Congress serves on at least one committee. These committees are where much of the legislative work is actually done.

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Committees hold hearings that focus on issues under their jurisdiction. These could be oversight hearings with agency heads and cabinet officials or hearings with stakeholders or people impacted by the legislation being discussed.

Committees are also where most legislation is written, revised and vetted. After a bill is introduced in the House, it is sent to the appropriate committee. From there, the committee chairman can decide whether or not to hold a hearing on the bill or if the bill should be brought up for a vote.

I am honored to serve on three committees: Armed Services, Education and the Workforce, and Rules. I want to briefly take a look at each of these assignments and outline our top priorities.

The Armed Services Committee has jurisdiction over the entire U.S. military. We focus on everything from procurement of new military equipment to the health care benefits of service members to overall defense strategy.

A top priority of mine on the Armed Services Committee is sea power issues, including building up our nation’s naval fleet. I believe a strong Navy is critical in terms of keeping the sea lanes open for commerce and ensuring the American people remain safe and secure.

I also use my position on the Armed Services Committee to support the important military shipbuilding projects based on the Gulf Coast. This includes the impressive work at the Austal shipyard in Mobile, but also the work done at neighboring Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

As a member of the Education and the Workforce Committee, I get to work on policies relating to K-12 education, higher education, workforce training, labor, employment and pensions. We focus on ensuring every American has the education they need to be successful in the workforce, but also on policies that support our nation’s current workers.

I am excited that Chairwoman Virginia Foxx selected me to serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. Our subcommittee deals with issues ranging from wages and hours of workers to mine safety to the Family and Medical Leave Act. I really look forward to using this Chairmanship to advance policies that make life easier for our nation’s workers.

Finally, I serve on the House Rules Committee. The Rules Committee is different than every other committee in the House, and it is actually one of the oldest and most powerful committees.

It is the job of the Rules Committee to prepare bills for debate on the House floor. Our committee sets the terms of debate before a bill can come up for a vote. For example, we may have to decide which amendments should be allowed for debate and how long the debate should last.

The Rules Committee is an especially busy committee, but it gives me a unique opportunity to have an input on almost every bill that comes up for a vote in the House.

All told, I believe these committee assignments put me in a strong position to advocate for policies and legislation that are important to families, workers, students, teachers, service members, and small businesses in Southwest Alabama.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.