WIUM Tristates Public Radio

LaHood: New Speaker Should "Help Move the Ball Down the Field"

Oct 19, 2015

The newest member of Congress has not decided who he will support for Speaker of the U.S. House.  Darin LaHood (R-IL) said he wants to hear from everyone interested in the job before making a decision.

“We told the American people last year in the election, ‘Give us a bigger majority and we’ll be doing all these things.’ We haven’t done very much,” said LaHood.

“We need to use our majority in a very positive, proactive way. So I’m looking for a speaker who’s going to help move the ball down the field.”

LaHood said the new speaker must be able to unite Republicans, who enjoy a solid majority in the House (247 Republicans, 188 Democrats). He believes Americans are frustrated with the lack of action from Congress.

“There’s a real disconnect between what goes on in Washington D.C. – or what doesn’t go on – and the rest of the country. Absolutely people are frustrated,” said LaHood. “We need to legislate.  We need to pass bills.”

He said that among other things, Congress must pass a budget, a federal highway reauthorization bill, and a trade agreement that promotes job creation in agriculture.

The position of House Speaker became available when John Boehner (R-OH) announced his intention to step aside at the end of the month.

LaHood made his comments during a stop in Macomb, where he spoke at an education forum at Western Illinois University.

Afterward, he said educators are seeking greater discretion and flexibility in how they spend federal money.  LaHood, who served as a state senator for four-and-a-half years before being elected to Congress on September 10, said educators don’t like the “heavy-handedness” they sometimes get from the state and federal governments regarding spending and testing programs.

“We have locally elected school boards and state representatives and state senators because they can make the decisions locally. So I think the more decentralization that we can give to school districts, the better,” he said.

LaHood also said the cost of higher education must be brought down.  He said interest rates are much lower for mortgages than for student loans, adding, “There’s something wrong with that picture.”

The congressman also said Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and the four legislative leaders should be locked together into either the Capitol or the governor’s mansion until they resolve the state budget impasse.