An area Congressman is reacquainting himself with portions of the listening area, as he is likely to represent them in Congress a year from now.
Current 13th District Congressman Rodney Davis says he’s been talking to constituents and old friends in the newly drawn 15th District over the last few weeks. He says it’s been great catching up with old friends and hearing their concerns about what’s going on in Washington D.C.: “It’s been wonderful to travel to some of these counties and reacquaint myself with some of my friends that I haven’t talked to in a few years. I was in Charleston and Shelbyville last week. I have been up to Quincy and to Menard County, Logan County. I’m excited to come back to Jacksonville and see my old stomping grounds where I spent a year as a freshman at Illinois College. These are areas of Illinois that are familiar with who I am and I’m familiar with what their needs are because I’ve worked hand-in-hand with Congressman [Darin] LaHood since he’s been representing that district. We are going to continue to work together throughout this next year on addressing some needs that may be brought to my attention and to his. Then, I’m hopefully going to have a seamless transition from Darin to me once the next election takes place. I’m hopefully blessed to be sworn in for another term.”
Davis says that he plans to continue constituent services throughout the district, and continue a track record of holding help desks as he has done since first coming to Congress. He says that time management and travel logistics will have to be monitored more closely now that the 15th District doubles the number of counties he will be representing. However, Davis says he is going to continue to rely on his staff to remain in touch in all the communities throughout the district in order to get his district’s needs heard in Washington D.C.
Davis says he’s been having conversations in Jacksonville about maintaining a Congressional Office that’s been in existence since the era of Bob Michel: “I really love the Jacksonville community, and they have had a Congressional Office since the time of Bob Michel. That’s a pretty tough to make a decision to make that change. When you look at my history, I have a history of not establishing large offices in large communities. I establish smaller offices because I truly believe that the best way to represent a Congressional district, especially one this large, is to give our constituents a place to go to talk to a human being – to be able to talk to a human being about what their issue with the federal government is. I have 6 district offices right now, and some of those are in areas that I will no longer represent. So, I’ll be looking at them and I’ll also be talking with Darin. I’ve already talked with Mayor [Andy] Ezard, too. He brought it up, so I know how important that office is in Jacksonville.”
Davis says he’s also heard from Congressman Darin LaHood and his father, Ray LaHood about the importance of the Jacksonville Congressional office, as well. The elder LaHood served in the 18th District from 1995-2009. Davis says his conversation with Mayor Andy Ezard also went deeper than just the Congressional Office for Jacksonville: “We talked about what the priorities are for the City of Jacksonville. Not just what the city is going to look like for the next 6 months, but what is it going to look like in the next 6-10 years…20 years. It’s really great to have leaders like Mayor Ezard that have that long-term vision of what Jacksonville should look like, because those are the partnerships we need at the federal level to help find a way that we can partner to move the local agenda forward. That’s why we sat down with Mayor Ezard, and we’ll be sitting down with some county officials to really get to know them and what makes, in their mind, Jacksonville and the communities surrounding Jacksonville tick.”
Davis says he is still working out the details on where personnel will shift and where his offices will be located when it comes time to transition into his new district.
Davis says he is going to continue to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office to continue to help small communities find federal grant money and low-interest loans to help with capital improvement projects and to move local infrastructure projects forward. Davis says he’s going to do that, even now that his former Congressional opponent, Betsey Dirksen-Londrigan, is now the state’s Rural Development Director. Londrigan was named to the position by the Biden Administration on December 17th. Davis says many small communities don’t know what resources are available to them: “I look forward to working with [Mrs. Londrigan] and the great folks that make up that agency to continue to provide great resources to communities that have benefited over my time in Congress.”
Davis says he is still working on issues for farmers in his district and around the country. Davis says the bipartisan Veteran and Beginning Farmer Assistance Act, which would reauthorize the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas program is still sitting in committee: “We hope the Democrats that are in charge will call that bill for a mark up. That means that we’ll debate it and vote on it in our Ag committee that I have served on since I got to Congress. Then, eventually get it to the floor and move it on to the Senate. If it doesn’t move under this Democratic leadership, we will take over the majority as Republicans in the House after the next election. I look forward to looking to debate that in the next farm bill. What will be my third farm bill will begin to be debated once the Republicans take over the majority in January 2023. We will try to implement some of the language that’s in that bill into the next farm bill because it’s important that we get the next generation to get engaged in agriculture and not feel like it’s the government trying to take farms away from families. It’s how we get new beginning farmers and ranchers engaged so that we have the ag sector that we’ve come to appreciate and sometimes take for granted.”
Davis continues to be an extremely vocal opponent against the Biden Administration’s return to Obama-era regulations of the country’s waterways.
Davis says the return to the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rules is going to hamper farmers with over regulation: “With a decision like this, for the Biden Administration not to find a compromise to say: ‘You know what? Maybe our farmers are going to be adversely impacted by rules and regulations at the EPA in Washington through this Waters of the U.S.’ Instead, they make a bone-headed decision to try and bring back the Waters of the U.S. provisions to appease the Far Left. We are going to fight like hell again when we take the majority, and we will make sure that those onerous rules and regulations are not implemented when a Republican majority is in the House once again in January of this coming year.”
According to current EPA administrator Michael Regan, the new water rule is currently under development. He anticipates a new proposal redefining WOTUS to be developed at one point in 2022. The agencies already have several virtual hearings scheduled in January to collect feedback from pre-registered attendees.
Ag groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Corn Growers Association continue to voice their concerns with these developments, stressing the importance for farmers to “have a rule that is fair and doesn’t require a team of attorneys to interpret.”
Davis says that he knows places like his rural district and Rural America needs the federal government to work and work efficiently: “I’m a Conservative…a proud Conservative. I’ll never sacrifice my core values and principles. I’m going to stand up for life, always stand up for the Second Amendment, but there also comes a time when government’s got to work for the American people and we’ve got to get things done. Passing a budget is something that we did as Republicans every year I was in Congress. We took a lot of heat for passing our budget priorities. We are going to continue to move back to that when we are in the majority and we kick the Democrats out of power after November 2022.”
Davis hopes his next term in Congress will continue to push both his district and and Rural America’s values. Current 15th District Congresswoman Mary Miller, who lives in Oakland, currently lives in the newly drawn 15th District. She has not yet announced whether she will run in the district or move south to face fellow Republican Mike Bost in the newly drawn 12th District. Holiday post cards with Miller’s face and ads online have begun to circulate in the Jacksonville area – an area Miller does not currently represent in Congress; possibly forecasting a move that she may primary against Davis in the coming year.
Davis has said in other interviews that he has faced primaries in the past and has been challenged before, and he’ll continue to face challenges as they come. Davis defeated Erika Harold in 2014 by a 13-point margin, and Ethan Vandersand in 2016 by a 50+ point margin in Republican primaries.
Davis says in the interim when he returns to Washington D.C. in January that he’s going to continue to attempt to hold Democratic leadership accountable for a lack of security at the Capitol building and continue to question the current January 6th Select Committee’s motivations and hold their proceedings under scrutiny: “It certainly wasn’t a tourist day. It’s something that I don’t want anyone Republican or Democrat or American to ever experience again. It showed our adversaries what they can do to take down a branch of government, and we’ve got to do better. My job has been to make sure the security posture gets better. Unfortunately, under Democratic leadership, it is not. The House officers, like the Sergeant at Arms, have done nothing to put the House in a better security posture, in my opinion. I will change that when I am the chair of the House Administration Committee. Anyone who walked into the Capitol that day knew they broke the law, and they are going to be held accountable for that and should be. We, as Americans, have to stand up and recognize that we don’t settle our differences with violence. I didn’t like that somebody came to a baseball field to try and kill me and my friends a few years ago because he differed with us politically. We don’t settle grievances with bullets on a baseball field, and we don’t settle our electoral grievances by attacking the Capitol. We need to do better to make sure the Capitol is never attacked again. At the same time, we have to make sure that the American people have faith in our elections. That’s what I’ve been trying to do through the House Administration Committee.”
Davis says that voter security and possibly a Voter I.D. law are things he feels are priorities in helping the country feel that the nation’s elections are secure, fair, and safe. Davis says that the election processes in Central Illinois currently are a prime example of how his belief of safe, fair elections can be conducted.