January 30, 2015

Ashford finds Congress exciting, challenging (AUDIO)

Brad Ashford on election night

Brad Ashford on election night

Congressman Brad Ashford says it is an incredible honor to serve the Second Congressional District in Washington and his election to Congress is a dream come true.

Ashford is getting settled in his new role as a member of Congress in the nation’s Capital.

“It’s exciting. It’s challenging. It’s something I can really get my arms around I believe and I’m excited to be there, certainly,” Ashford tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Ashford, a Democrat, won election to Congress in November, defeating long-time Republican incumbent Lee Terry.

Ashford served in the Unicameral as a state senator and now moves to the federal legislative branch.

He has scored two important appointments, especially for a freshman. Ashford has been named to the House Armed Services Committee and the House Agriculture Committee.

Armed Services has a direct impact on the Omaha area. Offutt Air Force Base, home to the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), is next door to the Second Congressional District and has a wide-ranging impact on the Omaha metropolitan economy as well as the state economy as a whole.

Nebraska, of course, is an agricultural state, but Ashford points out Omaha is home to a number of large agri-businesses. And while many might think a seat on the House Agriculture Committee might be more fitting for the Third Congressional District, Ashford says it is vitally important to Omaha, because the committee regulates the trading of commodities and determines the budget for the food stamp program.

Ashford says he’s ready to tackle the issues which will come before both committees.

“Issues that affect this district and the country as a whole and I’m glad Armed Service and Ag give me that opportunity to work on these issues.”

AUDIO:  Brent Martin reports [:45]

A tradition since 1943, Nebraska Breakfast begins again in Washington

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry at the nation's Capitol

Congressman Jeff Fortenberry at the nation’s Capitol

Members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation have released the schedule for the Nebraska Breakfast, an opportunity for Nebraskans visiting their nation’s Capital a chance to hear directly from their elected representatives in Congress.

The Nebraska Breakfast began in 1943 and is the longest-running state gathering of elected officials and constituents on Capitol Hill.

The first breakfast will be held tomorrow morning at 8am at The Senate Buffett, Dirksen Senate Office Building, First Street and Constitution Avenue, NE in Washington, D.C.

At the breakfast, Nebraska residents can hear from their Congressional delegation as well as speak informally with United States Senators Deb Fischer and Ben Sasse; and Congressmen Jeff Fortenberry, Brad Ashford, and Adrian Smith.

The Nebraska Breakfast is normally held on Wednesday when both the House and Senate are in session. They begin at 8am ET.

The Nebraska Congressional delegation released the following schedule:

January 28

February 4, 11, 25

March 4, 18, 25

April 15, 22, 29

May 13, 20

June 3, 10, 17, 24

July 8, 15, 22, 29

September 9, 16, 30

October 7

Breakfasts begin promptly at 8am. Guests are encouraged to arrive as early as 7:30am. All Nebraskans are welcome to attend. Breakfast can be purchased a la carte.

Group and individual reservations can be made by contacting any one of the five offices of members of the Nebraska Congressional delegation.

Congressman Ashford finds Congress much different than Unicameral

Congressman Brad Ashford

Congressman Brad Ashford

Nebraska’s newest Congressman is adjusting to life in Washington.

Democrat Brad Ashford of Omaha, who served in the non-partisan Unicameral, says he has found that Congress places a premium on partisanship and seniority in the making of law.

“There isn’t the natural human interaction that happens, for example most particularly in our Unicameral, where laws are made really based on building relationships one person at a time,” Ashford tells Nebraska Radio Network.

Ashford moved from the Unicameral to Congress when he defeated incumbent Republican Congressman Lee Terry in November to win the Second Congressional District of greater Omaha.

Ashford held a local swearing-in ceremony in Omaha this morning.

Ashford has joined the United Solutions Caucus, made up of House Democrats and Republicans working together on policy.

“To actually try to develop policies that the group can agree on that would be obviously nonpartisan and would address some of the more difficult issues like immigration, energy, and taxes,” Ashford explains.

He says the group is sowing the beginning seeds of a larger effort to remove so much of the partisanship of the process.

Ashford is the only Democrat in the Nebraska Congressional delegation. He doesn’t see that as a problem, though. He considers Sen. Deb Fischer a good friend from their days together in the Unicameral, where he also got to know Congressman Adrian Smith. Ashford says he knows Congressional Jeff Fortenberry well.

Ashford says he only recently met Sen. Ben Sasse.

Ashford doesn’t believe it makes any difference in his working relationship with the rest of the delegation that he is the only Democrat.

“I don’t see any problem or impediment to those relationships at all.”

Lee Terry joins DC law firm

Former Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry will join Kelley Drye & Warren LLP Government Relations Practice, a law firm in Washington DC. Terry will serve as a Senior Advisor in the Government Relations and Public Policy practice group.

A news release states that in Terry’s eight terms in the House of Representatives he helped shape federally policy in the energy, telecommunications and manufacturing industries. He also was a leader on energy issues that include fuel, fuel economy, the renewable fuels standard, pipeline infrastructure and more.

“I’m delighted to join a firm with such a broad base of regulatory knowledge and experienced legislative advocates, said Terry. “As I embark on this new phase of my career, I’m excited at the opportunity to work with my colleagues and to help the firm’s impressive roster of clients develop their public policy initiatives and navigate the legislative and political terrain of the federal government.

Inaugural ball kicks off Ricketts’ term as governor

Elected officials and supporters took over Pinnacle Bank Arena Saturday night for Governor Pete Ricketts’ Inaugural Ball. Ricketts spoke at Saturday night’s event about the virtues of Nebraska.

“Nebraska is a culture, a way of life,” Ricketts said on Saturday. “It’s how we feel about ourselves as a people. It’s how we treat each other with dignity and respect.”

Nearly 3,000 people attended Governor Pete Ricketts' Inaugural Ball on Saturday at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln

Nearly 3,000 people attended Governor Pete Ricketts’ Inaugural Ball on Saturday at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln

Governor Ricketts told the crowd, the Inaugural Ball was designed to highlights the virtues of Nebraska.

“That’s why Nebraska is what America is supposed to be, a great land,” Ricketts said. “I’m excited about our opportunities.”

“We have so much potential. Our options are limitless.”

The Inaugural Ball revived a decades-old tradition of honoring the new term of a Governor. Governor Dave Heineman hosted smaller events around the state four years ago to mark his final inauguration.

Ricketts credited his wife, First Lady Suzanne Shore, for organizing the event.  Nearly 3,000 people from around the state paid to be part of the evening.

KLIN’S Kevin Thomas contributed to this report.