Area Reps. Johnson, Joyce, Kelly get seats on prime Congressional panels

By David Skolnick


The Mahoning and Shenango valleys will have representatives on influential U.S. House committees beginning next month.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, is among five incoming Republican members to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

The committee is responsible for overseeing the nation’s energy policies, telecommunications, health care and interstate and foreign commerce.

“I will be able to further my efforts to stop President [Barack] Obama’s regulatory assault on domestic energy production and strengthen Medicare for current and future seniors,” Johnson said. “Having a seat on Energy and Commerce is a great responsibility and will provide eastern and southeastern Ohio with a more prominent voice on important policy issues that affect our lives.”

That would include oil and gas drilling and coal production, two major energy sources in Johnson’s 18-county district. The district includes all of Columbiana County and the southern portion of Mahoning County.

With rare exceptions, House members serving on the Energy and Commerce, Appropriations, Ways and Means, or Rules committees aren’t permitted to be on other committees.

Johnson, re-elected Nov. 6 to his second two-year term, will give up his membership on the House Natural Resources, Foreign Affairs, and Veterans Affairs committees.

House Democrats haven’t received committee assignments yet, but U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles is expected to reclaim his seat on Appropriations. He lost it in January 2011 after Republicans reduced the number of Democrats on the powerful committee from 37 to 21 after the GOP gained majority control of the House.

Seats on the committee are based on seniority, and Ryan was the 23rd-most senior Democrat on it. Enough Democrats either retired or weren’t re-elected for Ryan to return to Appropriations, which is where he wants to be. He will give up his seats on the House Budget and Armed Services committees.

Appropriations oversees close to $1 trillion in spending bills, and its members often are able to steer millions of dollars into their districts.

Ryan has represented the 17th District since January 2003. The district becomes the 13th in January. The new district’s boundaries are a little different, but it still consists of much of Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

U.S. Rep.-elect David P. Joyce of Russell Township, R-14th, was selected for a seat on Appropriations, something out of the ordinary for an incoming House member. Joyce is replacing U.S. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, a Republican from Bainbridge and an Appropriations member. The district includes 11 northern townships in Trumbull County.

Also, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Butler, Pa., R-4th, re-elected last month to a second two-year term, was tapped to serve on Ways and Means, the chief tax-writing committee in the House. Kelly will step down from the Foreign Affairs, Oversight and Government Reform, and Education and the Workforce committees.

Beginning next month, the 4th District will represent all of Mercer County and nearly all of Lawrence County.

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