New congressman jumps into the action in Washington

Sunday, August 11, 2013
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith bags groceries Monday for customers at Schnucks in Cape Girardeau to kick off his “work a day” series. (Fred Lynch)

A guiding thought for newly elected Congressman Jason Smith of Missouri's 8th District while settling into his role in Washington, D.C., has been this:"You can only learn by jumping in, and it's been interesting," Smith said.

On June 5, the day after his election to fill the seat of longtime Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Smith, the former Republican state legislator from Salem, Mo., was sworn in by House Speaker John Boehner in the nation's Capitol.

He's since joined several committees, made visits to the district and most recently had an amendment passed by the House that would require congressional oversight on all federal regulations related to the Affordable Care Act. The legislation still needs approval from the Democratic-controlled Senate and the president to become law, which seems unlikely because it received little support from Democrats even in the House.

Yet Smith is happy, at least, to already demonstrate his ability to do what he said he would do in Washington during his campaign, where he beat out a large field of Republicans for his party's nomination and later his Democratic opponent, state Rep. Steve Hodges.

"Regulation reform isn't something I just began talking about last week," Smith noted when talking about his amendment, which through a definition change would make any rule related to the Affordable Care Act a "major" rule, therefore requiring Congress to provide oversight.

Jumping in to file the amendment, Smith said, especially when he had no co-sponsors for the legislation, is one milestone accomplished. And if the amendment goes nowhere, Smith said he will continue to work on regulation reform.

A federal program, National Blueways, that supporters say will put waterways in a good place to receive grants through recognition for conservation and recreation efforts but that opponents worry will lead to federal agencies creating more rules, is another area where the congressman has directed his attention.

"These agencies, in my opinion, are so rogue from the aspect that they are now promulgating new rules and regulations from legislation that was passed three or four decades ago," Smith said. "There should be a cutoff period for agencies to promulgate rules once a law is passed. Whatever rules that they need should be implemented within five or 10 years, not 30 on down the road, and if that rule is that important, they should have to come back to Congress, because that is where the authority comes from."

Aside from his work on the amendment and the Blueways program, Smith has served on the House Judiciary Committee, which has been handling multiple immigration bills, and the House Natural Resources Committee. Smith also recently joined the Republican Study Committee, a large group of House Republicans "organized for the purpose of advancing a conservative social and economic agenda," according to a news release from Smith's office.

As for district visits, Smith said his goal is to hit each of the 30 counties once every 30 days, and he has so far been successful in doing that. Tours of factories, appearances at fairs and parades, and meetings with local elected officials and civic clubs are counted.

Last week, because Congress is on a break, Smith held a "work a day" series in the district, starting with bagging groceries at Schnucks in Cape Girardeau. He answered phones at a resort campground later in the week, among the "work a day" activities in several towns across the district.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

2502 Tanner Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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