Congressman Chris Gibson has had more than one night to remember over the past year. Ousting Scott Murphy from his 20th Congressional seat on Election night was a special victory he never lost sight of achieving. Over the next several weeks, assigning his staff and planning for a life in both Washington DC and Kinderhook was bittersweet. But perhaps the most memorable moment of his entire journey to Congress happened in an instant during his swearing in to the 112th Congress on Jan. 5.
`Maggie (11 years old) and Connor (9 years old) were directly on the floor with me holding our family bible when I was sworn in. That’s something I’ll remember all my days on Earth,` said Gibson, who’s oldest daughter Katie, 13, and wife were watching from afar. `Looking into their eyes, I thought they understood and it was very special connecting to them in that moment.`
Gibson said the moment was so `emotional and memorable` that his thoughts weren’t about him or the nation’s future right then, but of his family.
`I had just heard the outgoing speaker talk about the historic moment of the first female speaker in the history of our country and I was looking at Maggie and couldn’t help but wonder what’s in her future,` said Gibson. `Just to know that we live in a country with vast opportunities is something I never take for granted.`
Gibson shared memories of his first official day in Congress with The Spotlight. Just as his grassroots campaign placed an emphasis on family and constituents, so did day one in Washington.
`It was a great day. We had family, friends and constituents that came for the event. We had an open house here at our office and some refreshments provided by farmers from the 20th Congressional district`apples, pears, milk, chocolate milk. It was a very thoughtful gesture by many or our farmers that was certainly enjoyed and appreciated,` said Gibson.
He said he relished the afternoon that gave him a chance to greet district residents and mingle with loved ones, even with the call of his new job constantly looming.
`There were votes that went on throughout that first day, so periodically I had to step out to go to the house floor to vote. It was an action packed day and one that I’ll always remember,` said Gibson.
With the celebration wrapped and day one in the bag, Gibson said he was ready to jump right in, just halfway through his second official day as U.S. Congressman. He laid out a few of his priorities, with job creation at the top of the list.
`The number one priority is job creation and there’s a number of things that have to be done immediately to help on that score to grow the economy. Congress can’t pass a law that creates [jobs] but it can create laws that change the business environment; right now it’s hostile and uncertain to growth,` said Gibson. `I’ve been listening very carefully to small business owners and employees who talk about impediments to growth, things and barriers that stand in the way.`
Taxes, `onerous` regulations and health care costs are the main obstacles Gibson said he has heard. To that end, he said constituents can expect his actions to seek an answer to those issues.
`What we’re doing in the opening days of this Congress is to address regulation. I’ve already signed on to co-sponsor a couple bills I think will help the business environment,` said Gibson.
One of those bills would repeal the 1099 requirement included in last year’s health care bill that requires small businesses to submit the 1099 form for any vendors they do $600 worth of business with.
`For many business owners, this is an onerous regulatory requirement with little to none positive advantage for the country. I’m part of an effort to repeal that and I believe we have widespread support for it in the house; the Senate, we’ll have to wait and see about that,` said Gibson.
Another bill he’s co-sponsoring is called the Rein In Act which stipules that any bureaucratic agency that attempts to implement a new rule that has an impact of $100 million or greater a year on the economy, would have to go to Congress for a vote beforehand.
`I think it’s very important for accountability in the democratic process here. Over time, we’ve had agencies that gained authority and power and implemented rules that adversely impacted small business and stifled job creation and I think it’s a step in the right direction because it will require new proposals to come to Congress first,` said Gibson.
Also high on his agenda is his plan to repeal and replace the health care bill, a sentiment consistent with pledges made throughout his campaign.
`That bill has adverse impacts all the way across the spectrum we’re already seeing higher premiums, higher taxes, more regulation and more big government at a time we should be consolidating federal government,` said Gibson. `We should replace that with a bill on insurance reform, tort reform.`
Gibson said he’s not for throwing out the entire health care bill and starting from scratch. Instead, he said he’s open to including some stipulations from the bill he’s voting to repeal, like children staying on policies up until age 26.
Gibson will also throw his support behind a bill called Reciprocity that would allow gun owners to move their weapon across state lines, something he said he thinks is `important for our freedoms.`
He will be serving on agriculture and armed forces committees, two areas that are near and dear to his heart.
`We’ve got the hardest working and smartest famers in our district and their issue is profitability. I look forward to supporting our farmers and addressing their issues for them, particularly as we get ready for the farm bill reauthorization of 2012,` said Gibson.
His first goal for the armed forces committee is to bring a `rapid and successful conclusion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,` an effort he said the country is on track to complete.
Aside from having his political plans laid out, he also has a very clear picture of how his personal life will play out.
`The plan is to get back [to Kinderhook] on most weekends. Generally, I’ll be in Washington during the week,` said Gibson. `In addition to that, about one week out of the month we’re going to be doing district work so I will be back here moving about to our 137 towns across 10 counties.`
Gibson has opened district offices in Glens Falls, Kinderhook and Saratoga Springs.