Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., will become the first member of the class of 2006 to be a committee chairman, with the announcement today that he will chair the Joint Economic Committee. This committee is best known for holding the monthly hearings when the new unemployment numbers come out, and it's an odd setup being that it's a joint House-Senate venture. That makes it both bicameral and bipartisan -- as Casey's House vice-chair is a Republican.
Also, it's a nice plum as he heads into a re-election bid: Casey can cast himself as a leader on the No. 1 issue in every voter's mind. In an interview a few minutes ago (see tomorrow's paper for more) he said he plans to engage Pennsylvania business leaders on their thoughts for improving the economy (and I'm sure he wouldn't mind if they tossed his campaign a few bucks, too) and hold a lot of field hearings in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Here's the full release from Casey's office.
U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) was today named Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee (JEC). As Chairman of this committee consisting of members of the Senate and House, Senator Casey will focus additional attention on jobs, the economy and working families.
“The top priorities of Congress should be putting Americans back to work, improving competitiveness to spur economic growth and helping working families hit hard by the recession,” said Senator Casey. “As Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, I intend to focus on policies and strategies to create jobs, incentivize the creation of jobs and prepare workers for the jobs of the future. I also look forward to working with the House Republican Vice Chairman and the other members of the committee to help create jobs and grow the economy.”
Senator Casey continued: “This new position will also allow me to continue to work for the people of Pennsylvania on job creation and to have a larger role on economic policy. High on my agenda will be issues like promoting American manufacturing, workforce development, preparing children for the jobs of the future, export promotion, targeting unfair trade practices from countries like China and boosting working families.
“An important component of my work as chairman will be working with business leaders in Pennsylvania and around the country to explore new strategies to help workers and the economy to prosper.”
The Joint Economic Committee, established under the Employment Act of 1946, was created by Congress to review economic conditions and to analyze the effectiveness of economic policy. The JEC is a bicameral Congressional Committee composed of ten members from each the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The JEC has the authority to hold hearings, research economic issues, release reports and advise the Congress on economic policy.
Senator Casey has been a member of the JEC since entering the Senate in 2007. He also serves as the Chairman of the Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is a member of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.
With this appointment, Senator Casey becomes the first senator elected in 2006 to chair a committee.
Photo of Casey on a recent visit to the Post-Gazette by Bill Wade