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We start the day today with reports from Mercedes Schneider and from me on the new members of the House Education and Labor Committee. We both spent several hours on Sunday putting together posts, not aware that the other was doing the same thing. Mercedes reviewed the backgrounds of the Republicans just added to the committee, and she picked up some very interesting information that I missed. I recommend that you read her post.
This is my review of both parties’ new additions to the committee, which should be read in conjunction with Mercedes’.
Fifteen new members were added to the House Education and Labor Committee: 11 Republicans and four Democrats. The information I provided below was gathered mostly from Wikipedia (in italics) and the candidates’ campaign website.
By now, you have no doubt heard that rightwing extremist and Qanon nutcase Marjory Taylor Greene was added to the House Education and Labor Committee by the Republican leadership.
But she is not the only new Republican member appointed to the committee who is hostile to public schools.
New Republican members
Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA)
Miller-Meeks is a physician and an opthamologist in Iowa. According to Wikipedia: Miller-Meeks opposes the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). She opposes abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or harm to the mother. Of same-sex marriage, she said in 2014 that she favors “traditional marriage.” She has criticized EPA regulation of waterways and coal plants, saying it creates “uncertainty.” During the COVID-19 pandemic, she said she opposed the implementation of face mask mandates to halt the virus’s spread.
Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT)
Burgess Owens was elected from Utah. He was a professional athlete. He is African American. He is a very conservative Republican who appears frequently on FOX News.
When asked if he planned to be involved with the Congressional Black Caucus, a group made up of African American lawmakers that is currently made up entirely of Democrats. “I will have nothing to do with the Black Caucus,” Owens responded. “It has nothing to do with color; it has to do with our values. I see an organization that’s been pro-abortion, anti-choice for school, not doing anything to make sure our kids get educated or get job opportunities. They have been our biggest problem.”
Owens says he left the NFL “a cocky liberal” but went on to become “a very humbled and appreciative conservative”. He has also described his current views as “very conservative”. In June 2019, Owens, who is black, provided testimony to a United States House Committee on the Judiciary subcommittee opposing a bill that advocated reparations for slavery. Owens has also criticized U.S. national anthem protests and Colin Kaepernick. In November 2019, Owens called Donald Trump “an advocate for black Americans”. On January 6, 2021, Owens joined fellow Utah Congressman Chris Stewart and voted to reject Pennsylvania’s electoral votes for President-elect Biden.
At a June 1, 2020, Republican primary debate, Owens said Democrats in Washington are held in thrall by Marxists and socialists. Owens stated: “The days of Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill are over. We’re dealing with people who hate our country”. He also said the Affordable Care Act should be repealed and that he supported President Donald Trump. Later on in the campaign, Owens changed his stance, stating that coverage for pre-existing conditions should be protected, and that he did not support the repeal of Obamacare.
In a candidate forum in October 2020, Owens stated that the country’s top economic need is to reduce business regulations and make tax cuts. He also stated his opposition to a minimum wage increase. When asked about the need for bipartisanship, he responded, “The first thing we have to do is make sure that the Republican Party gets control again… We’re at a point now we just cannot afford to go off the cliff and allow a socialist to actually take the lead now… We have to be honest about this. There are truly people who don’t love our culture and do anything to destroy it and transform us into something else.”
In January 2021, speaking before a group of Democrats in the Utah Legislature, Owens stated he now realizes the difference between liberals, Marxists and socialists, and apologized to liberals for past remarks. Owens stated at the time: “What I didn’t realize and now I am realizing is that the ideology that we’re all fighting against is something we all need to know is out there. There are literally people who do not love our country the way we do. And when I say that, my apologies go to liberals, because I didn’t quite see the difference in liberalism and Marxism and socialism. There’s a difference. … We believe in God. We believe in capitalism. We believe in the family unit. Conservatives and liberals believe that. … There’s an ideology, if we don’t recognize it, if we say it doesn’t exist, it’s to our detriment.”
Rep. Bob Good (R-VA)
Rep. Bob Good of Virginia attended Liberty Christian Academy and received his B.S. and M.B.A. at Liberty University, founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell.
Good campaigned in 2020 on a far-right platform, espousing hard-line views on immigration policy and opposition to same-sex marriage and aligning himself with President Donald Trump. Good called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Actand rejected public-health measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, a pandemic in the United States. He did not wear a face covering or encourage the wearing of face coverings at campaign events, and opposed restrictions on businesses to slow the spread of the virus. Good suggested, without evidence, that the wearing of face coverings might be harmful. In the November 3, 2020 election, Good defeated Democratic nominee Cameron Webb, a physician.
Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI)
Rep. McClain was endorsed by Donald Trump.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
Greene was one of the 139 representatives who challenged the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Congress on January 7, 2021, the day after the storming of the U.S. Capitol. She has voiced support for disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theories including Pizzagate,QAnon,false flag shootings as a means for Congress to legislate for gun control,9/11 conspiracy theories, and the “Clinton Kill List“. Her Facebook account has expressed support for executing prominent Democratic politicians. After falsely asserting Donald Trump was elected in a landslide but the election had been stolen from him, in January 2021 Greene filed articles of impeachment against President Joe Biden the day after his inauguration, alleging abuse of power.
Rep. Diana Harshbarger (R-TN)
Rep. Harshbarger is a pharmacist from Tennessee. She ran for a safe Republican seat.
Harshbarger focused her campaign on fixing the opioid crisis, advocating anti-abortion legislation, and protecting religious freedom. She failed to debate any competitors throughout her primary or general race. 
On the afternoon of January 6, supporters of U.S. President Donald J. Trump, incited by the president himself, broke into the U.S. Capitol during debate, vandalized the building, and threatened lawmakers. Lawmakers fled to an undisclosed location for safety. Later that evening, Representative Harshberger joined 139 other Republican House members in voting to sustain objections to the certification of the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, based on claims of vote fraud that were supported by no evidence.
Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL)
Rep. Miller graduated from Naperville Central High School and has a B.A. in elementary education and a B.S. in business management. She is a member of the far-right Freedom Caucus.
On January 5, 2021, two days into her House term, Miller issued a prepared speech to the conservative group Moms for America. She quoted Adolf Hitler, saying: “Each generation has the responsibility to teach and train the next generation. You know, if we win a few elections, we’re still going to be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing. He said, whoever has the youth has the future.”
A number of groups and politicians strongly condemned the comment, harshly criticized Miller, and exhorted the Republican party to do likewise. Public statements were issued by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Anti-Defamation League, World Jewish Congress, and multiple lawmakers including Adam Kinzinger and Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker. Representative Jan Schakowsky, Senator Tammy Duckworth, and the Illinois Legislative Jewish Caucus called for Miller’s resignation.
On January 7, Miller’s office tweeted that her remarks had been intended to compare alleged youth indoctrination efforts by unnamed “left-wing radicals” to those of Hitler, while nonetheless encouraging Republicans to even more aggressively appeal to the youth as a means to collective power. On January 8, she apologized for having quoted Hitler in the message, but accused her critics of twisting her words.
On January 14, Schakowsky said that she would introduce a measure to censure Miller.
Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-IN)
Rep. Spartz is a CPA.
Victoria Kulgeyko was born in Nosivka, Chernihiv Oblast, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, today Ukraine. Before moving to the United States, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from the Kyiv National Economic University. She also earned a Master of Accountancy from the Kelley School of Business of Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.
While Kulgeyko was in college, she met her future husband, Jason Spartz, on a train in Europe and began dating him. They married in 2000. Victoria Spartz immigrated to the United States in 2000 at the age of 21 and became a U.S. citizen in 2006.
In late 2020, Spartz was identified as a participant in the Freedom Force, a group of incoming Republican members of the House of Representatives who “say they’re fighting against socialism in America”.[26
Rep. Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI)
Rep. Scott Fitzgerald was leader of the State Senate in Wisconsin, where he was a close ally of Governor Scott Walker and helped to pass laws that limited collective bargaining and that gerrymandered state legislative districts. He opposed certification of Biden’s election on January 6.
Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC)
Rep. Cawthorn was homeschooled and dropped out of Patrick Henry College after one semester. He spoke at Trump’s rally on January 6, rallying a violent mob to invade the U.S. Capitol.
Rep. Michelle Steel (R-CA)
Rep. Steel is one of the few Korean-Americans to serve in Congress. She represents the conservative Orange County district in California. She has been active in Republican Party politics. She wants to lower taxes and supports school choice.
During her campaign, Steel spoke out against COVID-19 mask mandates. Her platform included opposition to abortion, same sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act, and the creation of a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. A conservative, she aligned herself with President Donald Trump.
Democrats appointed four new members to the House Education and Labor Committee:
- Congressman Jamaal Bowman of New York
Rep. Jamaal Bowman is a career educator who founded the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action, a middle school in The Bronx, New York City. He has a Bachelor’s degree in sports management, a masters’ degree in counseling, and a doctorate in educational leadership.
Bowman became a leading advocate against standardized testing. His blog on the role of standardized testing has received national attention. He has written about high-stakes testing’s role in perpetuating inequalities, including the turnover, tumult, and vicious cycle it creates in the lives of students and educators, as assessment performance damages a school’s ability to teach and, subsequently, the quality of the education upon which the student is assessed. By the mid-2010s, a quarter of Bowman’s students had opted out of standardized testing. He also advocated for children to receive arts, history, and science education in addition to the basics of literacy and numeracy. Bowman’s school policy used a restorative justice model to address the school-to-prison pipeline. After ten years as principal, he left the job to focus on his congressional campaign.
- Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez of New Mexico
Rep. Leger Fernandez received her BA from Yale and her law degree from Stanford Law School. She practiced law in New Mexico before running for Congress. Leger Fernandez has advocated for a “New Mexico Green New Deal,” Medicare For All, a transition away from fracking to green energy, and a ban on the sale of military style semi-automatic rifles. She has also supported comprehensive immigration reform and the passing of the DREAM Act.
- Congresswoman Kathy Manning of North Carolina
Rep. Manning earned her undergraduate degree from Harvard and her law degree from the University of Michigan. Her father worked for Ford Motor Co. and her mother taught public school. Manning was director of the charitable Jewish Federations of America. She supports an increase in the minimum wage, affordable healthcare, improving education, and access to arts in the community.
- Congressman-elect Frank Mrvan of Indiana
Rep. Mrvan was born in Indiana, where he attended public school and graduated from Ball State University. He was a mortgage broker, then a township trustee. He campaigned on a platform of improving healthcare, increasing jobs and opportunity, and was endorsed by the AFT and United Steelworkers.