Room 2175 in the Rayburn House Office Building may be getting a dose of Southern hospitality in the 109th Congress, as a handful of new lawmakers from the region are expected to join the education debate.
As of last week, eight freshman Republicans were named to the House Education and the Workforce Committee, which convenes in that room, with three vacancies still to fill.
Two of those new lawmakers, Reps. Bobby Jindal and Charles W. Boustany Jr., hail from Louisiana. Mr. Jindal, a former Rhodes Scholar, was named the president of the University of Louisiana system when he was just 27 years old. He held the job for about two years. More recently, he was an assistant secretary in the Department of Health and Human Services from 2001 to 2003.
Mr. Jindal, who is viewed as a rising star in the Republican Party, was narrowly defeated in 2003 in the race for Louisiana governor. He was recently elected president of the freshman class of House Republicans.
Meanwhile, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a newcomer from North Carolina, knows a thing or two (or three…) about education. Her work in academe, which included time teaching at the college level, culminated in her tenure as the president of Mayland Community College, in Spruce Pine, N.C., from 1987 to 1994. In addition, she served three terms on the Watauga County, N.C., school board.
Other new Republicans on the education committee are Reps. Bob Ingliss of South Carolina, Tom Price of Georgia, Kenny Marchant of Texas, Cathy McMorris of Washington, and Luis G. Fortuno, the delegate from Puerto Rico.
On the Democratic side, only one freshman as of last week was on track to the join the House education committee—Rep. John Barrow, a lawyer from Georgia—though others were likely to join once final decisions are made later this month on the assignments of incumbents.
Also, Rep. Robert C. Scott of Virginia, who had taken a temporary leave from the panel, has expressed an interest in returning.
The balance of power in the committee was expected to be 27 Republicans and 22 Democrats.
Meanwhile, Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., will become the new chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. A more familiar voice to many education lobbyists, Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Ohio, was also in the running, but instead will remain chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending.
A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week