The U.S. House of Representatives moves at somewhat different speeds than freshman Rep. Keith Rothfus, R-Sewickley, anticipated.
Rothfus, who became the 12th district’s congressman on Jan. 3, thought the body would take more time to carefully weigh some key issues than what happens.
He also envisioned broader policy discussions moving along quicker.
“One of the surprises is the pace at which things get done and not get done,” said Rothfus during one of his first visits to Johnstown as an elected official on Tuesday.
“It would be nice to have some more time to deliberate on some of the issues that come before us. On the other hand, there are policy initiatives you would like to see move more quickly that don’t.”
Those lessons have been part of the new congressman’s introduction to Washington, D.C., politics throughout the past few weeks.
He was immediately greeted with a tough political decision upon joining the House.
Rothfus voted against legislation to provide money for areas hit by Superstorm Sandy even with the part of his district in Somerset County being eligible for a minute portion of the money. He felt providing the relief without paying for it now was irresponsible.
“The Sandy vote was a tough vote for me,” explained the congressman.
“We’ve been talking about debt, spending, out-of-control spending for several years now, four straight years of trillion-dollar deficits, and reluctance on the part of the people in Washington to pay their bills. And, so, here the Sandy votes came up and it was going to be another $60 billion in the hole. I’m all for helping people in disasters. I think we should help people in disasters. The operative word is ‘we’ should help people in disasters, not our grandchildren. Every time we continue to pass the buck to the next generation, I think it’s wrong.”
Part of Rothfus’ district includes Johnstown, which was devastated by floods in 1889, 1936 and 1977.
Asked what his response would be if another major natural disaster occurred locally, Rothfus said, “If the 12th were hit hard, I'd be out there advocating for relief and I’d be advocating paying for it.”
Also during his short time in office, Rothfus has filled out his staff and opened three main offices within the district. He has been appointed to the House’s committees on Homeland Security and the Judiciary.
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