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Congressman John Shimkus on his candidacy for Energy & Commerce Chair

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HH: The new Republican majority is going to get organized very soon, and one of the questions they’re going to face is who’s going to run what. And one of the senior Republicans on the House Energy & Commerce Committee is Congressman John Shimkus from Illinois’ 19th district. He joins me now. Congressman Shimkus, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show, great to have you on.

JS: Well, it’s great to be with you, Hugh, thanks.

HH: Tell me what you see ahead for Energy & Commerce. First of all, is your hat in the ring for chairman?

JS: Yeah. My position is when we addressed Joe Barton in that term limit thing, if the committee decides that he doesn’t get the term limits, or doesn’t get a waiver, then I’m in. So in all practical purposes, I’ve thrown my hat in the ring for chairman.

HH: Now Congressman, that’s fascinating, because I don’t know how many in my audience know this, but whenever anything bad happened in the last two years, it had Henry Waxman’s name on it. And if that’s his committee, how are you going to reverse all this stuff if you’re given the gavel?

JS: Well, there’s a couple of things you do. First of all, we are going to, my, I’ve already talked to John Boehner about it. The first thing that you have to do is just to get the repeal and replace bill on the floor and out of our chamber, so I mean, many people including myself ran on that. So get that disposed of, and then we can start doing a couple of things on the health care law. There’s rifle shot fixes that we need to address, keep it simple so we can explain it to the public. One example is the 1099 issue. Everybody talks about that. And I think you could get a bipartisan vote out of both chambers, and put it on the President’s desk. It does a lot of things. It deprives him of the additional IRS employees, it’s about $11 billion dollars out of the health care law. It reduces that paperwork nightmare for small business, so that’s just an example. But I can get of a lot of things that can happen, not through my committee, but we’ll be helpful on the appropriation end. I think the public understands there’s no need for 115 new federal agencies to implement this new law. So you just deprive the government of funding for those new agencies.

HH: Now Congressman, going back to the repeal and replace bill, how quickly is it possible, do you think, to get a clean repeal and replace out to the Senate?

JS: Well, my advice is to do it week one. It’s been fully debated through the election process. Everyone’s run on it. It’s not that we haven’t been trying to educate people on the health care law. And we know what we stand for. My argument to the leadership is week one, because we don’t want to spend six weeks on that if it really has no chance of getting to the President’s desk. But there’s a lot of people who campaigned on repeal and replace, and we have to have that vote.

HH: And so send it to the Senate, and then hope that somehow Mitch McConnell forces a vote on it at some point?

JS: Well remember, there’s going to be a lot of Senators, Democratic Senators, up for election in 2012, who come from some conservative states. And put that burden on them, and then let the public put pressure on the Senate to try to take up that bill. And while they’re spending time doing that, we can do the other portions of the health care law.

HH: Now second question, is cap and tax, or cap and trade dead as far as you’re concerned, if you were the chairman?

JS: (laughing) It’s dead. It’s buried. It’s been bulldozed. It is definitely gone. The problem is even today, there’s rumors of presidential orders, and what the EPA can do. Remember, the Supreme Court in essence gave the EPA authority to regulate carbon dioxide, so the cap and trade, that funding mechanism is gone. Can the EPA still do some harm in the regulations? You bet they can, and that’s where you then go also with either a law to deny the EPA the authority to do that, and there’s been debate on the Senate side to do that, even before the election. Or you then, you also address the depriving of funds to administer that. But I think the administration, and the bureaucrats, are moving pretty quick to try to lock down a lot of this stuff before we even show up in January.

HH: Do you see yourself, if you were the chairman of Energy & Commerce, subpoenaing Carol Browner to come up and testify, since she’s covered by the White House, sort of. But it’s a new approach to keeping appointees away from Congress. What’s your view of the oversight responsibilities vis-à-vis the czars?

JS: Well, I think the real debate of how we deal with the czars is we defund the czars. I mean, I think that’s going to be an appropriation process where you say if they don’t have a Constitutional connection, we shouldn’t fund them. And these czars are, as you, they’re hard to get a hold of and figure out who they’re responsible for, you know, we fund the federal agencies. That means we’d be the administrator of the EPA, the Secretary of Energy, and those folks. But no one says we have to fund these amorphous, cross-jurisdictional czars. And I think that’s the issue. Anyway, I can tell you one thing that Administrator Jackson and Secretary Sebelius, who is spending a lot of time in front of the committee.

HH: I’m looking forward to watching those hearings. Now Congressman, obviously you’ll be in a hunt here against Congressman Fred Upton. At least two declared candidates for this chairmanship. How do you think the caucus is going to decide between two veterans? Everybody likes both of you guys. How are they going to decide?

JS: Yeah, I don’t know. (laughing) We’re Republicans. We like competition. We’ll let the people make their choices. Fred’s a friend of mine. We were joking even before that he’s going to be okay, I’m going to be okay, it’ll all resolve itself in light. But you know, it could come down to as much as just seniority. He’s four years senior to me. I don’t know with the new folks coming in that means a lot. We may look at particular positions on issues, and I’m more conservative. He’s viewed as more moderate. What do we need? Do we need someone more moderate to help us with the administration? Or do we need someone who’s more of a pain in their rear end?

HH: On what issues do you guys most divide, do you think, when it comes to policy?

JS: Probably I’m a bona fide social conservative, and he’s not.

HH: And so how does that manifest itself on Energy & Commerce?

JS: Well, all the health care debates, the whole Hyde language, and do we provide, and what does this law do to expand abortion and abortion services…

HH: Last question, Congressman, do you think you both would be committed to the need for speed in pushing the agenda, and pushing the agenda, and pushing the agenda?

JS: Oh, yeah, I do. I think both of us have been around a while to know that we were fired, okay, and that’s an issue. And secondly, we’ve got the Tea Party movement that I think is going to be involved and engaged for two more years at the minimum. I think they’re going to be around for a long time. And then we’ve got all these new members here who are going to be trying to push us to fulfill their obligations and their mandates. So the answer is yes. I don’t think it matters. I think both of us will be strong for the overall conservative message. It’s just the social issue that divides us, I think.

HH: Okay, self-serving last question. If you’re the chairman, are you going to be available to talk radio and this show often?

JS: Well, yeah. I mean, if you know my record here in my Congressional district, I think one of my benefits is I’m always available, and in fact, I make an effort to go in studio a lot, because I like to know the host and see them, and I think you get a clear transmission when you can do it in studio.

HH: Then we look forward to having you in studio in California when you’re first out here, Congressman Shimkus. Thanks for joining us today.

End of interview.

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