2017-01-19 / Columns

Bergman Gets Key Committee Roles

Michigan Politics
By George Weeks

Northern Michigan’s newest congressman last week landed committee assignments that match his credentials and First District needs.

Republican Jack Bergman of Watersmeet, the retired Marine general who surprised many of us last year in winning the GOP nomination in a highly competitive primary and then defeated former Democratic State Chairman Lon Johnson of Kalkaska, received a slot on the House Committee on Natural Resources, which is of prime importance on Great Lakes issues. He said:

“In the First District, maintaining a vibrant economy is inextricably tied to protecting our wildlife, our waterways, and our public lands. Families, industries, and entire communities depend on our natural resources for survival, and we have a responsibility to protect them for future generations.

“As a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, I’ll have the opportunity to influence decisions about mineral lands and mining, fisheries and wildlife, public lands and waterways, irrigation and reclamation, and energy production, and I look forward to working with my colleagues on the committee to make sure those decisions support the First District’s economy and other priorities.”

In a column on last year’s Memorial Day, I lamented the long wait times that returning veterans face for medical treatment at the snafu-plagued federal Department of Veterans Affairs. I cited some politicians who were addressing the issue, including businessman Bergman, who has long been a champion for veterans.

Last week, Bergman was selected to serve as chairman for the House Committee On Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

The subcommittee’s role is to provide oversight on programs and operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal agencies that operate on behalf of veterans. In fulfilling its responsibilities, the subcommittee conducts hearings, site visits, and investigations nationwide.

“Representative Bergman has been a tireless advocate for veterans, having served in the Marine Corps and National Guard himself,” Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-Tennessee), said, “and I’m confident he will keep fighting to improve the lives of our nation’s heroes as chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. I look forward to working with Representative Bergman to pass meaningful legislation to reform the VA and continue the committee’s diligent oversight.”

Cheers to Bergman for these comments on veterans:

“One of my highest priorities here in Congress is making sure the processes and programs that are in place are working in an efficient and effective way.”

“It’s no secret that the VA has been plagued by a culture of corruption and complacency, and while Congress has made some inroads in addressing those issues, we still have a lot of work left to do during the 115th Congress.”

“As Chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I’ll have the opportunity to fight for an accountable and transparent VA. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, I’ve seen first-hand the sacrifices that our veterans and their families have made on behalf of this country and its people. Making sure that they get the benefits they’ve earned is the least we can do in return.”

As for his appointment to the House Committee on the Budget, Bergman said:

“I campaigned on a promise of responsible and accountable service to the First District, service to Michigan, and service to the American people. I’m delighted that these committee selections provide an avenue for me to fulfill that promise in a way that makes sense for the First District.”

General Bergman’s committee assignments do indeed make good sense to his constituents.

“On the House Committee on the Budget, I’ll have the opportunity to tackle issues that matter not just here in Michigan, but in communities all across the United States.

“I always had the assurance in the Marine Corps that hard work and unwavering commitment would lead to successful completion of the mission. That’s what the American Dream is all about. People deserve the comfort of knowing that their work will pay off, that our economy will provide opportunities for growth, and that they’ll keep more of their hard-earned dollars. This committee is dedicated to making sure that the American Dream is still attainable to everyone willing to work for it.”

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.

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