U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson was back in familiar territory Thursday, being sworn as a member of the 113th Congress in Washington, D.C.
And if it felt like he never left, it’s probably because he didn’t. The 112th Congress stayed in session as late as New Year’s Day as they scrambled to pass legislation to avoid sending the country over the dreaded fiscal cliff.
But it was a different atmosphere Thursday as Thompson joined his colleagues, new and old, in taking the oath of office. For Thompson, who is beginning his third term representing Pennsylvania’s sprawling 5th Congressional District, the day was special.
“It’s an honor to be able to serve in the seat that belongs to the residents of the 5th District,” Thompson said Thursday afternoon during a phone call from the nation’s capital.
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Some of those residents in turn showed their support, making the trip to Washington, D.C., to cheer on Thompson.
“We were actually joined by constituents from throughout the congressional district,” he said. “I’m honored they made the trip to be part of this day.”
After the pomp and pageantry of the inauguration fades, Thompson will get to work on pushing for a new farm bill to replace the current version, which was given a one-year extension under the same bill passed to avoid the fiscal cliff.
Thompson voted for the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012, which at the last moment both extended the farm bill and warded off the fiscal cliff.
“It was not perfect, but a pretty good deal,” he said. “The bill we voted on returned tax rate cuts for 99 percent of Americans, made them permanent. That was something I campaigned on.”
But while the farm bill extension helped avoid a crisis for farmers, a more permanent solution is needed, said Thompson.
“It keeps us off a number of cliffs,” he said. “The dairy cliff would have been first. It would have crushed the dairy industry. It’s good to get an extension, but we do need to move ahead with a regular order.”
While running for re-election, Thompson also said he would prioritize putting people back to work, lowering health care costs and revamping the No Child Left Behind Act so that it serves children and schools better.
Thompson defeated Penn State theater professor Charles Dumas in November for a third term representing a vast swath of Pennsylvania that covers all or part of 16 counties, including Centre County.
On Thursday, Thompson also weighed in on the antitrust lawsuit Gov. Tom Corbett is pursuing against the NCAA. Corbett announced the suit Wednesday, challenging the severe sanctions the NCAA levied against Penn State for its handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal.
Thompson called the sanctions inappropriate, and suggested the NCAA perform an internal review of its practices.
“Punishment should be focused on the perpetrators and the specific crimes,” he said. “I think both those principles were violated.
“I don’t know the probability of the lawsuit being successful, but I think the NCAA overreached,” he said. “I think they punished a lot of current students who had nothing to do with this.”
In the meantime, Thompson said lawmakers will continue to push to keep money in state from the $60 million fine imposed against Penn State.