Winning the Presidency with his small staff and rope-adorned, snap-back hat Trump accomplished what many – well, virtually everyone – thought was impossible. Now most people are betting against his success once he has the job . And, like his campaign did, his first few days of activity seem to be proving those doubters wrong as well. But to be clear, in order to pass some of his highest priorities, a President Trump is going to need more than just an effective cabinet – he’s going to need an effective Congress.
Speaker Ryan and the House will soon choose Committee chairs for the next Congress. This next cycle one Committee will be a little more important than it was in the last Congress: Energy and Commerce. Because of the need to repeal and replace Obamacare, this chairmanship might be one of the most consequential in the upcoming.
Fortunately there are a few good people in line for the job, but now is the perfect time for a West Point graduate to be given the reins. Congressman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) has been in office since 1996 and is now a senior member of Energy and Commerce. He is currently Chair of the Environment and the Economy Subcommittee and is also on the Health Subcommittee as well. Congressman Shimkus has had quite a success on the Committee and he has a demonstrated ability to get legislation done.
In an episode that many have forgotten, he showed his ability to bring the Republican caucus together, motivate people, and pursue solutions outside of the normal political box. I had a first-hand view of this leadership when I visited the House floor during the August recess of 2009. That year Congressman Shimkus led what was one of the first real protests that I have seen from anyone on the conservative side of the political aisle — the energy protest of 2009.
At the time gas prices were soaring, and Nancy Pelosi was blocking Republican attempts to reform the energy system, bring down gas prices, and provide relief to American household budgets. Rep. Shimkus was able to highlight the intransigence of the Democrat leadership and the bankruptcy of their energy policies. “All of the above” was the chant that kept the House floor alive – and this was despite, the fact that Speaker Pelosi had directed that the lights be turned off. It was an inspiring month for a GOP conference that was a little down, and it was Congressman Shimkus’ leadership that sparked that moment.
There are currently a multitude of ideas in the mix for an Obamacare replacement. And, despite the enthusiasm to for going forward to replace a program that’s unnecessarily bankrupting Americans, it’s going to be tough to get Republicans united behind one plan – especially one that may need to get 60 votes in the Senate. It will take someone who understands the issues at play, but what it will really take is leadership. When looking for leaders, West Point is where our military looks, and I’m hoping that’s where the Republican Congress looks.