Lloyd Smucker discusses his role in leading the 16th Congressional District

By on May 10, 2017
Rep. Lloyd Smucker said he continues to promote the traditional conservative values which appeal to his large GOP base. The first-term Congressman stresses a core agenda based on tax reform, health care system changes, and regulatory relief.

Rep. Lloyd Smucker said he continues to promote the traditional conservative values which appeal to his large GOP base. The first-term Congressman stresses a core agenda based on tax reform, health care system changes, and regulatory relief.

Rep. Lloyd Smucker says he hit the ground running when he took over the 16th Congressional District seat from Joe Pitts in January.

The Record Express had an opportunity to sit down with Smucker during his Easter break in April. He appeared happy to be back in his home district, which comprises most of Lancaster County, a large portion of southern Chester County, and a small section of Berks County, including the City of Reading.

He ran a campaign on traditional conservative values which appealed to a large GOP base. The first-term congressman stressed a core agenda based on tax reform, health care system changes, and regulatory relief.

“So it’s exciting to be there at a time when I think we’re really going to make progress in each one of those areas — and already are,” Smucker said.

Still, there is a learning curve to deal with before diving into his party’s agenda items, added the former Pennsylvania state senator.

“There’s a lot to learn, there’s a lot of people to get to know,” he said. “You basically have to build the entire organization from scratch, put together a staff at both of our locations and get our offices up and running. But it’s worked out really well, we’ve put together a great team.”

Unlike the Pennsylvania Senate which offered no initial guidance, Smucker spent several weeks in a Congressional orientation program with the new “talented class” whom he’s “very impressed by.”

“During that time there were 54 new Congressmen coming in,” he said. “You spend a lot of time together and you get to know them. Cindy, my wife, was down (in Washington, D.C.) for a while. Other spouses and families were there, so you get an idea how things work and build early relationships with a lot of the new members.”

Smucker said the 240-plus member Republican Conference has been “willing to assist in any way that you ask.”

“There isn’t anyone in that conference who isn’t willing to help when you have questions about things,” he said while dressed casually, sitting behind a desk in his Lancaster City office.

He’s happy with the three committees he’s been assigned to, which he said “were a priority for me.”

Those three committees are Transportation and Infrastructure, Budget, and Education Workforce.

“I really felt fit with my own skill set in my own experiences and background,” Smucker said.

“Theses are committees where there’s a lot of activity that’s occurring in this session,” he said. “The transportation bill — obviously infrastructure package — is a top priority for the administration. So we’re expecting a lot of activity to occur there.”

Smucker said work on the education and workforce committee is geared to reauthorizing the Higher Education Act, redefining higher education appropriately to include career and technical skills, not just two- or four-year colleges.

“And then of course there’s the budget; there are actually two budget bills that make their way through committee this year,” he said.

The ambitious schedule has created a hectic calendar.

“I was warned about being on three committees,” he said. “I’m beginning to understand why I was warned because it’s busy, it’s busy. There are times literally when I’m triple booked when every committee has a hearing activity at the same time and the same day.”

Smucker arrived in Washington prior to the start of a uniquely partisan period where new President Donald Trump has warred with the media, Democrats, and even Republicans at times. So far, he has voted in line with the president on every issue and ran a campaign favorable to Trump.

Though he won easily, taking nearly 54 percent of the vote in a race against Democrat Christina Hartman, the total was lower than Pitts’ last eight elections dating back to 2000.

“The voters elected Trump because they wanted a different approach,” he said. “They wanted someone who wasn’t a politician, who was willing to go in and speak his mind and really do what he thought was right for the country.”

Smucker said President Trump also offered a change middle class voters in his district were looking for.

“He was elected by a lot of people in the middle class who really felt like they’d been left behind in our economic recovery. Their jobs are going overseas, or jobs just aren’t available. They’re right. The middle income has declined for middle America. So I think the voters got what they expected in that way, and I think the people who elected the president are still behind him and are still very pleased with what he’s doing.”

Smucker pointed to successes in stock market, the CEO confidence index and in the small business confidence index which point to an economic recovery.

The Congressman, who’s met President Trump on a few occasions and attended the same committee meetings, expects the 45th president to get better with experience.

“I think Trump is just getting started. But I think the people who elected him are are very excited about the possibilities going forward,” he said. “It’s a big undertaking for anybody, let alone someone who hasn’t had any experience in an elected office before.”

He said Trump voters are excited about what “we’re doing in pulling back the reach of the federal government.”

“They’re excited about the possibilities of tax reform and fixing our health care system, and it’s energizing people in the business community,” he said. “We’re going to get our economy growing again, and we’re going to create jobs.”

The Record Express reached out again to Rep. Smucker following his votes to support the president’s budget and health care reform bill.

Smucker said in an email that while the bipartisan funding bill “is far from perfect” and another short-term fix, it was “the right thing to do” to keep the government running.

“It is another example of Congress governing from one funding crisis to the next,” he wrote. “That is why I have urged House Budget Committee Chairman Diane Black to hold a hearing on comprehensive budget process reform.

“It is also why I cosponsored ‘No Budget, No Pay’ legislation and bills to reform the broken budget process. Congress must be accountable to the American people, and the system needs to work again.”

He also noted that the bill increases funding for the National Institutes of Health, strengthens our military, reaffirms the Hyde amendment to prevent funding for abortions, and supports nationwide efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.

Smucker lamented that “these priorities should have been achieved through regular order in an open and transparent manner.”

He decried that “Obamacare is broken” and that premiums are skyrocketing and insurance options are disappearing.

“Premiums in Lancaster County increased 40 percent in 2017 — the highest in Pennsylvania,” he noted. “The entire system is unsustainable and on the verge of collapse. It’s time for change.”

Finally, Smucker is convinced that the American Health Care Act will help ensure Pennsylvanians have access to the care they need at a price they can afford.

“It returns regulatory power to the states — where it belongs — so that governors can run state-specific programs instead of a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach,” he noted. “It ends Obamacare’s costly mandates and provides both a market-driven system that will lower premiums, and tax relief to hardworking Americans to help make health care affordable. Finally, the bill provides protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Patrick Burns is social media editor and a staff writer for the Lititz Record Express. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455.

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