Television executive turned Rep. Bob Turner’s campaign promise to bring “fiscal sanity” to Washington hit a bit of a snag last week when he was assigned to three committees that have nothing to do with the nation’s budget: the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, the Committee of Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security.
Turner’s assignments — which were doled out by the House Republican Steering Committee — will have him focusing on veterans, national security, the deployment of the U.S. Armed Forces, and enforcement of international sanctions. He will also be given access to the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to protect the country from terrorist attack.
This year, the Veterans Affairs Committee helped create legislation that would strengthen penalties for small businesses who falsely claim to employ veterans in order to get tax incentives and, at the same time, established a VetStar Award program to honor businesses employing veterans.
In turn, the Committee of Foreign Affairs fought to impose immigration sanctions against Vietnam nationals who have been accused of human rights abuses and loosening the trade embargo with Cuba put into effect following the Bay of Pigs Invasion in 1961. The Committee on Homeland Security fought to streamline the finances and direction of anti-terrorist efforts in the United States.
Upon hearing Turner’s appointment to his team, Committee on Homeland Security Chair Rep. Peter King (R–Long Island) said he was happy that a fellow New Yorker had been brought onboard.
“Rep. Bob Turner’s appointment to the Homeland Security Committee is fantastic news for New York,” King said. “[He] knows that New York is the number one target. He is a fighter and will be a tremendous asset to our region.”
Turner (R–Sheepshead Bay) will have his hands full with these committees, but none will benefit from his particular skill-set: business administration.
Despite this, Turner, an Army veteran, said he was happy with the assignments he was given.
“I am very excited to be appointed to three important House committees,” Turner said in a statement. “I look forward to working for those affected by the decisions of each of these committees.”
Turner, who helped organize the Brooklyn Tea Party movement, touted his experience in the private sector on his way to besting Democratic challenger David Weprin during last month’s special election. Throughout his campaign, Turner claimed that Washington needed a man with business sense, rather than a career politician who owes too many people favors.
“We’ve been asked by the people of this district to send a message to Washington — and I hope they hear it loud and clear,” Turner told supporters following his victory. “We are on the wrong track.”
Turner added that the message also included that voters have “had it” with President Obama’s “irresponsible fiscal policies.”
Turner also lashed out against Obama’s belief that Israel should withdraw to its pre-1967 borders, giving back some land to the Palestinians — a vision Turner may be able to change as a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Still, none of Turner’s committees were considered plum assignments compared to what some freshman Republican congress members received last year; several new legislators were assigned to major committees like the powerful Ways and Means Committee, which is responsible for writing tax legislation and bills affecting Social Security and Medicare.
Turner replaces Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Sheepshead Bay), who was a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce — which is responsible for energy conservation, as well as international trade and tourism — before he resigned in disgrace following a sexting scandal. Energy and Commerce is considered one of the most sought-after committee assignments in the House of Representatives because it has the broadest jurisdiction of any committee in the chamber.