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Local politics

  • Stutzman challengers count on TV debate
    Two long-shot candidates for a seat in Congress say Tuesday’s televised debate offers the best chance for them to lure votes away from Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd.
  • Americans’ woes stir Coats
    U.S. Sen. Dan Coats is sitting out the Nov. 4 election, when Republicans are expected to take control of the Senate.Coats, R-Ind., is not up for re-election until 2016.
  • 3rd District candidates to join in debate Oct. 21
    The three congressional candidates who seek election in Indiana’s 3rd District will debate one another on television Oct. 21.Organizers said Wednesday that the hourlong debate will begin at 7 p.m.

Stutzman is forced off VA, Ag committees

Position on finance panel dictates move


– Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Ind., has traded his seats on three House committees to join one of the more powerful panels on Capitol Hill.

Stutzman said he has had to give up his spots on the Agriculture, Budget and Veterans Affairs committees after being named to the Financial Services Committee in early December.

The 61-member Financial Services Committee oversees banking, insurance, real estate and securities and such government agencies as the Federal Reserve Bank, Treasury, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Members of what are called “exclusive” or “A” committees – Financial Services, Ways and Means, Energy and Commerce, and Appropriations – typically do not serve on other committees because of the broad oversight and heavy workloads of those four panels.

Stutzman said in a recent interview that he sought permission from leaders in the Republican-controlled House to remain on the VA committee in the 113th Congress. His district includes the VA Medical Center in Fort Wayne.

“In the past, you’ve been able to get a waiver. This year they did not give any waivers because we had such a large class in 2010 and a fairly large class in 2012,” Stutzman said about the influx of House freshmen in the last two elections who required committee assignments.

Stutzman was elected in 2010 and re-elected in November.

Rep.-elect Jackie Walorski, R-2nd, has been named to seats on the VA and Armed Services committees. Her district includes community-based outpatient clinics in Goshen, South Bend and Peru that are operated by VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, which is based in Fort Wayne and Marion.

Stutzman said he will continue to be involved in VA issues.

“The VA Committee was very important to us. I feel that we accomplished a lot, too,” he said. “We also established relationships that I know I can go back to whenever we need to.”

Stutzman’s departure from the Agriculture Committee leaves it without a Hoosier member.

“I’ve been at this in one way or another for about 30 years, and I think we’ve always had somebody on the House Ag Committee, and a lot of times two” from Indiana, Kent Yeager, director of public policy for Indiana Farm Bureau, said Wednesday.

A Hoosier presence will be missed “if we get into a complete rewrite of the farm bill,” he said. In that event, “we certainly would want to make sure our interests are represented.”

The Agriculture Committee often splits along geographic lines – Midwestern corn and soybean producers versus Southeastern cotton, rice and peanut growers, for instance.

Sen.-elect Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., has been named to the Senate Agriculture Committee, “so we’ve got representation there,” Yeager said.

He said Reps.-elect Susan Brooks, R-5th – a Fort Wayne native – and Luke Messer, R-6th, have shown interest in joining the 45-member House Agriculture Committee if seats become available.