Comstock settling into duties

Barbara Comstock

Barbara Comstock’s first days as the new congresswoman from the 10th District have been filled with committee assignments, her first votes and floor speeches and getting to know her House colleagues.

The often obscure, overlooked work a member of Congress performs in committees can have a major impact on her constituents and her political future. Comstock said she is especially pleased by her appointment Tuesday as chairwoman of the subcommittee on research and technology, part of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

The eastern part of the 10th district includes many technology companies and entrepreneurs looking to start or expand businesses in the field. The subcommittee is a gateway for legislation affecting technology companies. The panel also has the authority to conduct investigations and provide oversight on issues affecting science, engineering and education.

The subcommittee’s work includes hearing ideas for safeguarding computer networks against data breaches and other disruptions caused by hackers.

“Our first hearing is going to be on cybersecurity, and obviously we have a lot of expertise in our district on that very important subject, and I look forward to tackling that,” Comstock said.

Comstock, R-McLean, has also been assigned to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Administration Committee, which oversees the conduct of federal elections and molds related legislation. The committee also has power over issues affecting the day-to-day operations of the House, such as spending on committee staff and the kind of technology available in members’ offices.

Comstock said the duties of all three committees have a bearing on the jobs and lives of thousands of federal employees and contractors in the district.

Comstock gave her first floor speech in support of the Keystone Pipeline, a controversial project that would carry oil from western Canada south to the Gulf of Mexico. Critics say oil extraction operations in Canada contribute to global warming, but Comstock and other supporters contend the promise of new jobs from pipeline construction is too important to pass up. President Obama has said he will veto the bill, which passed the House, 266-153.

Comstock also voted for legislation that would prevent hours worked by volunteer firefighters from being counted in determining the number of full-time employees in fire and rescue departments. A workforce of 50 or more, defined as those working more than 30 hours a week, would require a department to provide employee-sponsored health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Comstock said the legislation, which passed the House unanimously, will make it easier for volunteer departments in the western part of the district to maintain 24-hour a day service.

Comstock, who is replacing retired U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Vienna, has opened a district office in Sterling and plans to open another soon in Winchester.

“We’re looking forward to getting out in the district to meet people as much as we can,” Comstock said.

She encouraged constituents to visit her website at https://comstock.house.gov/ and sign up for her newsletter.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com