WASHINGTON – Like college freshmen trying to find the good parties, Minnesota’s congressional newbies in Washington are vying for assignments to House committees whose work aligns with their priorities, ambitions and constituencies.
Committee assignments in large part dictate a given lawmaker’s focus. It’s a way to develop policy specialties and influence legislation.
By the end of last week, Minnesota’s five freshman members still hadn’t received committee assignments. New members usually don’t get the plum spots.
“I’m one of the audacious ones — I’ve asked for Ways and Means,” Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips said of his bid to join the powerful tax-writing committee, where his three Republican predecessors served.
His fellow Democrat, Rep. Angie Craig, requested a seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, as did Rep. Pete Stauber, the northeastern Minnesota Republican.
Stauber, whose district includes the Iron Range and Duluth, also wants on the Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, a Republican from farm-heavy southern Minnesota, is trying to get on the Agriculture Committee.
Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis, a Democrat, asked to be on the Education and Labor Committee, and on one of a handful of committees with investigative oversight of the Trump administration.