Castor switches committees, aims at health care
U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa will say goodbye to her seats on two influential House committees to join the panel tasked with shepherding President-elect Obama's health care plan through Congress.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today that Castor, a Democrat, will join the wide-ranging Committee on Energy and Commerce, which has jurisidiction over environmental regulations, gas mileage standards, telecommunications, consumer protection and health-related agencies like the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health.
"I've wanted to be directly involved with crafting health care policy," Castor tells Buzz. "That's one of the reasons I ran for Congress, and we're at a real turning point with the new Obama administration.
"I think everyone is recognizing now that (with) our economic crisis, one of the answers has to be that we solve the health care problem for families."
Because of its breadth, Energy and Commerce is an "exclusive committee," meaning its members generally cannot serve on other committees as well.
Castor will give up her posts on the Armed Services Committee, which oversees the military, and the Rules Committee, which determines what bills may be debated by the House and under what conditions.
Castor said she requested the transfer to allow her focus on legislation aimed at making health care more available and affordable. It was approved by Pelosi and the 51 other members of the Democratic House steering committee, of which Castor is a member.