The local media has speculated on the possibility of promotion for a whole slew of local politicians. Will Ron Sims get an appointment in the Obama administration? Or

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Reichert Appointed to House Ways and Means (Updated)

The local media has speculated on the possibility of promotion for a whole slew of local politicians. Will Ron Sims get an appointment in the Obama administration? Or will it be Congressman Jay Inslee? Was Gov. Christine Gregoire's trip to Iraq really a smoke-screen to mask her future as Commerce Secretary?

So far, nothing has panned out for these Democratic political stalwarts, rumors and innuendo by local political "experts" withstanding.

On the other side of the aisle, however, Congressman Dave Reichert (R-08) has gotten a hefty promotion, being appointed to the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

News of the step up in the Congressional pecking order was announced yesterday afternoon.

Chatting with Reichert over the phone, it was obvious to sense his excitement. It had been a five year process which has come to fruition starting with a conversation he had with the late Jennifer Dunn, who represented the district for decade.

"When I won, she [Dunn] said 'OK Dave, what you need is to let everyone know you want on Ways and  Means. It's important for voters in the Eighth. And it's important for voters in the state."

Until yesterday, Reichert's top committee assignment was Homeland Security, which he'll have to give up; his new job duties on an "A" committee leaving little time.  

"I am a fiscal conservative," Reichert said. "But you have to come to these committee assignments with an open mind. I don't like to put myself in a box because facts can change your mind - and I'm talking facts, not people trying to work you - to determine what is best for the country and protect the integrity of the taxpayer dollar.

With the government spending money these days faster as they can print it, Reichert said there is not enough control and oversight over the federal budget. He cited the last year's $850 billion dollar bailout package, which he voted against twice, as an example and named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. 

Ways and Means is one of the most powerful committees in the House of Representatives and is a plum position for any sitting member, particularly a representative beginning his third term in office.

The Committee helps hold the purse-strings of much of the federal budget and is responsible for issues such as tax, trade and health care. It will also has oversight responsibilities for President-elect Barack Obama's proposed multi-billion dollar stimulus package.

Reichert spokesperson, Abigail Shilling, told The Weekly that the assignment was an important one for the former King County Sheriff, due to the current economic crisis and the fact that Congress has pledged to address the economy as its number one issue this session.

During the campaign last year, his opponent, Darcy Burner, tried to tar the incumbent with the label of ineffective, citing a survey conducted by the website Congress.org labeling him as the four hundred and something-something most effective congressman in the House for 2007 and 2008 (419 in 2007 and 401 in 2008) and last of the nine-member state delegation.

How the proprietors of Congress.org got those numbers seem rather arbitrary, though, since Reichert had passed more pieces of legislation than half his colleagues in the state.

With the new committee assignment, those bottom-feeder numbers will no doubt go up, despite the Republicans being firmly in the minority in all branches of government back in D.C.

Not getting too deep into the nuances of inside-the-beltway cloakroom politics, it sounds like momentum for Reichert's appointment came primarily from the folks with the letter "R" behind their name.

The selection was made by a Republican steering committee where he was nominated by fellow Washingtonian Doc Hastings (R-04).

Pelosi Pink Pump Payback?: Sadly, Reichert said that the close working relationship he developed with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi played no part in the nomination process for Ways and Means. In 2005, the former King County Sheriff made headlines during the aftermath of an evacuation scare at the Capitol.

While politicians and staff were scrambling out of offices, one of the casualties was then Minority Leader Pelosi who lost one of her "pink, leather sling-back pumps".

Reichert, following behind, apparently caught the shoe on the fly while evacuating and later presented the shoe to Pelosi during a press conference.

Although she didn't lobby on his behalf, Reichert said earlier in the week, while doing the standard congressional portrait shoots, Pelosi agreed to autograph a photo of him presenting the missing pink shoe to her.

 
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