Lawmaker heading ag subcommittee
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Republican Steering Committee on Friday named Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., chairman of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations. In addition to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the FDA, the subcommittee oversees the budgets of the Farm Credit Administration, the Farm Credit System Financial Assistance Corporation, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Georgia’s economy, contributing $65 billion annually and employing one in seven Georgians,” Kingston said. “We lead the country in producing peanuts, pecans, watermelons, and broilers. Our sweet Vidalia onions have gained fame across the world. The bounties of our state and our country feed the world and this position will afford me the opportunity to ensure that commonsense prevails in the government’s efforts to ensure a safe and abundant food supply.”
In addition to traditional agriculture interests, the subcommittee’s oversight of the Food and Drug Administration provides Kingston with a leading role in protecting the public health. The agency assures the safety of the nation’s food supply and monitors the safety, effectiveness and security of a wide range of products from prescription drugs to cosmetics to tobacco products.
“I appreciate the confidence placed in me as I assume this role and I look forward to a busy year of rigorous oversight,” Kingston said.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston was sworn in Wednesday on Capital Hill with the rest of the House of Representatives, and he took with him a determination to reduce the size of government and reign in spending.
On Monday, the day before he traveled to Washington, D.C., the Republican delegate for Georgia’s 1st Congressional District outlined some of his goals for his next two years in office. Kingston said his main objectives this term are to cut government spending, curb the size of government and repeal health-care reform.
Kingston, who has been in office for 17 years, won re-election to his seat, joining other Republicans who swept the November elections to win the majority in Congress.
Locally, Kingston said he’d like to find another mission for Fort Stewart. Kingston is a member of the Defense Subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee, which oversees all military-based funding. The Army announced in 2007 that a fifth brigade would be coming to Fort Stewart but later reversed its decision 2009.
But Bryan and Liberty counties are very supportive of the military, Kingston said, and there is room for growth in those areas
“That’s a flag that I’m constantly waving,” he said.
Kingston argued that cutting government spending and oversight will stimulate the private sector and more jobs will be created.
For example, he pointed to the Consumer Financial Protection Act, a financial reform package that goes into effect this year. He said there will be many different interpretations and there will be lawsuits, which will lead banks to err on the side of caution and cut back on lending because of ambiguity.
Big business will adjust, Kingston said, “but the little guy can’t do that.”
Kingston, who sits on the Appropriations Committee that controls the federal budget, said he’d also like to work on eliminating duplicate programs in the federal government.
For example, he said there are more than 40 federal job training programs and 16 programs that help the homeless. He’d like to streamline and consolidate programs like those.
“We certainly can get rid of a lot of duplication,” he said.
Kingston also said Congress needs to separate wants from needs. There might be a lot of programs that people want from the government. But “maybe it should be done at the local level,” he said.
For example, education programs to prepare students for college could be better run locally than by bureaucrats in Washington, he said.
As for health care, Kingston said he plans to vote to repeal the health-care reform law that was passed last spring. Congress is expected to vote to take such action sometime next week.
“I think Obamacare was far too big [of a] government reach,” Kingston said.
One of the mandates in the heath-care law requires businesses that employ 50 or more workers to offer their employees health insurance or pay a penalty by 2014. Kingston said that small businesses may lay people off to get below that 50-person threshold or pay the penalty, which could be cheaper than premiums.
The move will force Congress to take a second look at the bill, he added.