For much of the last two decades, Tom Latham has served most of the counties in which The Messenger circulates in the U.S. House of Representatives. As a result of redistricting, he chose to seek re-election in Iowa's 3rd Congressional District (the Des Moines area and southwestern Iowa). It's good news for Iowa that the voters in that district recognized he is an exceptional congressman and are sending him back to the nation's capital as their representative.
There are 435 voting members of the U.S. House of Representatives. In theory, they each have one vote to cast when important matters are decided. In truth, however, some members of the House have much more influence and power than do others.
Most of the work of the House is done in committees. That's where the decisions are made about which bills are voted on by the whole House and what provisions they contain.
Given the way congressional decisions are made, the committee assignments a congressman receives have a great deal to do with how much real power and influence that member has - and how effectively the voters back home can be served.
In Latham, Iowa's 4th Congressional District was fortunate for many years to have a congressman whose committee assignments positioned him ideally to assure that the interests of central and northern Iowa were heard loudly and clearly in Washington.
Tom Latham, a Republican, was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994. His background as a farmer and small-business owner means that he understands well the needs of a state where agriculture is the central focus of the economy. He was singled out early by his colleagues as someone whose views they respected. That led to his selection as the only Iowan on the powerful House Appropriations Committee.
It's almost impossible to exaggerate how important Latham's role in the appropriations process is to the whole state of Iowa. He is perfectly positioned to make certain that Iowa gets a fair hearing for projects in need of federal dollars. Grants to support community projects have a real chance to be funded with Latham's help. A congressman who does not sit on the Appropriations Committee can plead the case for his constituents. One who is a member of that committee helps decide which of the many worthy causes being touted get funding.
Tom Latham is not a congressman who believes in wasteful federal spending. He is, however, determined that Iowa be treated fairly by the power brokers in Washington. His continued service in Congress is immensely important to the entire Hawkeye State.
Latham works tirelessly on Capitol Hill to explain Iowa's needs. The Messenger congratulates his new constituents on their good judgment in keeping him in Washington. Our area benefited greatly from the high-quality public service that has been the hallmark of his tenure in Congress. This newspaper joins many of his longtime constituents in thanking him for his dedicated service. We feel certain that he will remain one of the most effective members of the Iowa delegation in the years ahead.