Perhaps one of the most impressive victories in the November 2010 election was when Vicky Hartzler unseated Ike Skelton, a 17-term congressman and then chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District.
“I didn’t ever really expect to run for Congress,” Hartzler says. “But after the 2008 election and the very fast demise of our country at the hands of the President Obama-Nancy Pelosi-Harry Reid team, it was time to talk again and to try to take back our country.”
Now that she’s a member of Congress, the budget is her top priority. “We have to pull [the government] back from the brink of financial collapse by ending the runaway federal spending that is mortgaging our children’s futures, so we’re going to be dedicated to making government more efficient and more effective,” Hartzler says.
To achieve this goal, Hartzler is advocating for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution, something she’s familiar with from her days as a Missouri state legislature.
“As a state legislature in Missouri we had to abide by our constitutional mandate to balance the budget. Most state governments do and I think the federal government should as well,” she says.
Yet, Hartzler is sensible on defense, realizing that the federal government’s own top priority should be the protection of its citizens. “Now’s not the time to be cutting defense,” Hartzler says, pushing back against those who are keen to cut the Pentagon’s budget. “When we are waging war on two fronts, and we have men and women in harm’s way.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner gave Hartzler a spot on the House Armed Services Committee. There, she is 1 of 61 and lacks the clout—because she lacks seniority—of her predecessor, who chaired the committee. Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood are in her district.
Hartzler also sits on the House Committee on Agriculture. She and her husband, Lowell, live on a farm and have received close to $800,000 in government farm subsidies. But Hartzler hopes to temper government regulations on agriculture. “This year we are bringing in different government agencies and putting a spotlight on their regulations, which are being very onerous for [the] agriculture community, and that includes the runaway EPA,” Hartzler says.
Recently she targeted the EPA’s regulation of “coarse particulate matter” (or dust). “The EPA is advancing numerous proposals that are harmful to agriculture. One rule wants to regulate dust on our farms. They call it air quality. Where I’m from, it’s called ‘living in the country,’” Hartzler said in a February 11 speech at the Capitol.
The Farm Bill, which must be passed every five years and is set to expire in 2012, will soon be on the congressional agenda. Many Republicans, including Boehner, are ready to put the bill on the chopping block. Hartzler is open to cuts, but advocates a “wait and see” approach.
“Too many times I think [farmers] are targeted because they’re only 2 percent of the population and I don’t believe they should bear the entire brunt of bringing in the runaway spending,” Hartzler says.
Hartzler taught in the Missouri public school system for 11 years and decided to enter politics in 1994, when she won a seat in the Missouri house. She served an additional two terms in a seat that a Republican had held only once during her lifetime, foreshadowing her victory over Skelton last year. For the last decade, she stayed active in Missouri politics and also published Running God’s Way, a how-to book for Christians on political campaigning.
Matt Katzenberger is an intern at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.