First District Congressman-elect Tim Huelskamp has had a hectic couple of weeks, as he prepares to transition from the Kansas Senate to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Huelskamp recently attended a freshmen orientation course in Washington D.C. with nearly 90 of his new colleagues, where he had a chance not only to get to know the nation’s capital, but meet with incoming congressional leadership.
“That was a long, busy week,” Huelskamp said. “I think we’re in for some positive change.”
Huelskamp said he had a chance to sit down with presumptive incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, and was impressed with his approach to leading Congress.
“He’s got a Midwestern personality that we’re all used to,” Huelskamp said. “I’m most excited by his promise that we’ll have an open debate on all issues.”
While Huelskamp was able to accomplish many things while in Washington D.C. for the orientation, such as entering the annual lottery for office space, and indicating his preference to serve on the House Agricultural Committee, he is prohibited from having a staff until January - something that makes decisions like where to place district offices a challenge.
“We’re still working (on district offices) and visiting with (Jerry Moran’s) staff, who have been great,” Huelskamp said. “We want to move very carefully and meet all the needs of the district. I think it’s important to have quality rather than speed. The district offices and staff are the face of Congress to many people and we want to get the best people we can.”
Huelskamp should have an idea of committee assignments in the next two to three weeks. However, he said that the thing that has left the greatest impression on him is the culture of Congress.
“I’m still struck by the discussion about issues and procedure,” Huelskamp said. “Here we are looking at a $13 trillion debt and there seems to be very little concern about the crisis. We have to have a plan.”
Despite these worries, Huelskamp said he’s ready to work with his fellow freshmen.
“The message most (freshmen) are bringing with them is that Washington D.C. is broke and we can’t do things the same way,” Huelskamp said. “There’s a real variety of Americans representatives here. In this class there are seven farmers. They’re all bringing the idea that Americans are ready for changes.”