The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 2, 2013

Top 10 of 2013 | Rothfus eager for new role

New congressman to take office today

Dave Sutor

JOHNSTOWN — Keith Rothfus, like many U.S. citizens, felt frustration when watching the recent protracted fiscal cliff debate.

But, while most Americans had little immediate recourse except to contact their  

congressional offices with phone calls and emails, the Allegheny County lawyer knew he soon would be able to play a key role in hopefully helping to prevent similar gridlock from occurring. As President Barack Obama, the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-led Senate struggled to prevent large tax increases and huge automatic spending cuts from taking effect, Rothfus was preparing himself to join the U.S. House of Representatives.

He will be sworn in as the 12th district’s new representative in the 113th Congress around noon today.

“As a private citizen, watching all of that with other private citizens, it was frustrating,” Rothfus said.

Even after feeling some dissatisfaction with the political system, Rothfus is looking forward to joining Congress.

“I’m excited to be heading down (to Washington, D.C.),” he said. “I don’t underestimate the challenges ahead of us. To be able to be in this position, with the two years of service that the citizens have given me, is an honor.”

Rothfus, a Republican, gained his seat by beating incumbent Rep. Mark Critz, D-Johnstown, by 3.4 percentage points in the general election.

The 50-year-old father of six children will serve on two committees, Judiciary and Homeland Security. Both of those assignments fit with Rothfus’ background. The Notre Dame Law School gradate worked for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2006 and 2007, heading an office that worked with faith-based organizations to provide relief after Hurricane Katrina and other disasters.

Rothfus’ 12th district includes parts of Somerset and Cambria counties.

The other sections of those counties, along with all of Bedford County, are in the 9th, a district represented by Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg. He will become the new chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee when the session officially begins. Shuster has been in the House since 2001.

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