On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio's Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum welcome back U.S. Rep. John Shimkus to the show to get a first-hand account of the recent turbulence in Congress.
Shimkus is a Collinsville Republican who was first elected to the U.S. House in 1996. He represents the enormous and heavily Republican 15th congressional district, which encompasses a big chunk of southern Illinois. In fact, since the redistricting that went into effect in 2012, Shimkus says his district appears to be the largest -- area-wise -- of any district east of the Mississippi.
Shimkus heads the House's Subcommittee on the Environment and the Economy, giving him a key role in some the congressional debates over the Environmental Protection Agency's mandates and global warming.
His observations on the podcast include:
- His praise for outgoing Speaker John Boehner's success in clearing up touchy fiscal issues -- such as the debt ceiling and the federal budget's spending restrictions -- so that new Speaker Paul Ryan could focus on future issues.
- Criticism of the aforementioned fiscal deal, which Shimkus voted against. "You’re raising the debt limit) again…we really need to stop doing this," he said. Shimkus was particularly against the deal's cuts in some agriculture support programs important to his largely rural district.
- His hope that the Congress will "now return to 'regular order,' where budget and spending bills go through the traditional committee process instead of being crafted via special deals between congressional leaders and the president and presented to the House and Senate rank-and-file as done deals.
- Shimkus acknowledged that some conservatives were split over Ryan, but the congressman believes that the Wisconsin Republican is likely the only House GOP leader who can forge a working coalition.
“If Paul Ryan is not good enough, then who is?"
He believes that if the new National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency's site is by Scott Air Force Base, the move would likely guarantee the base's future, allowing it to survive any new rounds of military cutbacks or base closings. The agency is now located in south St. Louis and is considering four possible sites for relocation, including one in north St. Louis.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies
Follow John Shimkus on Twitter: @RepShimkus
Music: "The Undertaker Joins the Avengers" by Superfun Yeah Yeah Rocketship