Coming Soon To A Congressional Committee Near You
by Michael Fox
If you were watching the pundits talk about the impact of the Democrats gaining control of the House, one of the things frequently mentioned was the senior members waiting (im)patiently to gain control of committee gavels. Although the names I heard most often were John Dingell (Energy & Commerce), Charles Rangel (Ways and Means), and John Conyers (Judiciary) one that I did not hear mentioned was George Miller (D - California), who will be the new chair of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. For those with interest in the subject matter of this blog, my guess is that is a name you will soon know well.
Although one hopes that the Democrats will learn from what just happened to the Republican party -- that the American people seem to be yearning less for partisan bloodletting and more for problem solving, less rhetoric and more action -- if the tone of Representative Miller's last pre-election posting on his website on labor matters is a harbinger of things to come, it could be a shrill two years:
Secretary Chao appointed a crony to lead a key labor commission under NAFTA. Chao's nomination of Knouse in the first place is itself enough cause for concern. But even more troubling is what Knouse did after taking office. If allegations against him are accurate, then Mr. Knouse repeatedly abused the public trust, using taxpayer dollars from three countries to fund his own lobbying activities. Secretary Chao must release all of the relevant records so that we can learn all the facts.
Unfortunately, the appointment of corrupt and inexperienced cronies to important positions in the federal government has become all too familiar during the Bush administration's tenure. And Congress' total failure to conduct oversight has allowed this unaccountable administration to run amock. It is time for a new direction in Washington.
Chair (to be) Miller got his wish -- and like the others who will soon have gavel in hand, the opportunity to be a different kind of leader -- not the same kind of leader only with a different ideology.