Former Vice President Dick Cheney is a known entity at the Capitol – there’s even a bust of him on the second floor. But what do members of Congress know of his daughter, the former cable news talking head and short lived U.S. Senate candidate?
Arizona Democrat Raul Grijava said “I don’t watch Fox much. I remember when she was running for office at her daddy’s behest.”
Fellow Arizona Representative Rube Gallego doesn’t know much. “Nothing. I have no impression of her. I know only of her from what I’ve seen in the press the last couple of years, but that’s about it.”
Utah Republican Rob Bishop is more impressed. “Nice, competent, she’ll be an effective congresswoman.”
Committee Chairman Bishop says while some Democrats may be put off by her last name, but it’s a positive among Republicans.
“Let’s face it. On our side, we liked Vice President Cheney, so that’s a plus. Especially on our committee and the issues that she has to represent in Wyoming are simpatico with everything we have to do on our committee.”
The top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, Congressman Raul Grijalva, says the committee has become hyper-partisan of late and he expects Cheney to fit right into the Republican mantra.
“All your early, early bad fights – from climate change to turning land over to the states, more extraction, deregulation – are all going to be in that committee. Early. Lot of fights and I anticipate that she’ll be on the other side.”
Cheney turned some heads at the Capitol when she was tapped to serve on the thirteen member Rules Committee, which largely controls the House floor. With nine Republicans and only four Democrats on the committee, it’s largely viewed as an extension of the Speaker himself – packed with his allies who do his bidding by keeping as much drama and surprises out of House floor debates as possible. Cheney says she’s excited to have her fingerprints on most every bill before it hits the House floor.
“It’s actually a great place to be as a freshman. Because it really gives you a chance to have an impact and see every major piece of legislation that goes to the floor, before it goes to the floor.”
One of Cheney’s four Democratic counterparts on the Rules Committee, Alcee Hastings of Florida, says he understands why she was tapped.
“I think she’s extremely smart, very capable and from the standpoint of the Republican ideology, I think she’s a perfect fit.”
And Hastings says he’s looks forward to squaring off with Cheney who he says gets an early boost from being placed on the Speaker controlled committee.
“The Rules Committee attracts people that are vocal and aggressive in their politics and Mrs. Cheney certainly has demonstrated that over the course of time in the public. So no I’m not surprised, every year they have brought on one or two new persons, freshman persons. It being an exclusive committee it is a jewel for a freshman member.”
Cheney is also serving on the Armed Services Committee. She says that’s in part to focus on local issues and not just to raise her national stature.
“One of the areas that’s particularly important for Wyoming, obviously, is F.E. Warren Air Force Base and the strategic forces there. And the strategic forces and what’s going on with our nuclear forces and our ability to make sure we’re modernizing and maintaining those forces, it’s a perfect example of an issue that really matters to us at home but matters to the entire country and matters to our ability to defend ourselves.”
With three committee assignments that cover a broad array of issues, Cheney is set for a big first year, but she says there’s a lot to do.
“Right now I’m just focused on what is it going to take to make sure that we begin to reduce this massive burden that the federal government has put on Wyoming, especially in the last eight years, and that’s a big task,” said Cheney.