The Agriculture Committee is the one committee for which Noem has more experience than I do to serve as a useful member. She relentlessly touted her lifelong farm background on the campaign trail. Right after the election, Noem herself said landing a seat on the agriculture committee was among her top priorities:
Once in Washington, Noem says she hopes to serve on the agriculture committee.
"But then we'll go on from there. Maybe commerce; energy will be extremely important. We'll see what we can do and we'll be on the one that's best for South Dakota," Noem said [Shawn Neisteadt, "Noem Reflects on Campaign, Looks Forward," KELOLand.com, 2010.11.03].
Noem repeated later in November that she wanted an Ag seat, plus Energy and Commerce. She also mentioned Natural Resources.
Noem got little of what she wanted. She landed the Natural Resources Committee, which is apparently "less competitive to get a seat on" (i.e., Noem got the crap assignment), and the Labor and Education Committee, for which she as a non-college graduate from a union-busting state is singularly unqualified. And all Noem's spokesflunky Joshua Shields can whimper in response to a direct question about the failure to get the ag nod is "there are several good committees Kristi considered. She is pleased with her assignments."
My only hope is that she will use her position on Ed/Labor to put her Tea-Bag cred to work and kill No Child Left Behind. Why, oh why, do I keep hoping against hope that Republicans will display philosophical consistency?
Noem's assignments are one more sign that the GOP leadership sees her as more valuable as a trick pony for their fundraisers and press appearances than as a strong voice for South Dakota interests. Maybe they noticed that she never did get around to posting a coherent ag policy on her campaign website. Or maybe even the GOP leadership couldn't ignore Noem's clear conflict of interest over making a living off farm subsidies and subsidized crop insurance.
Either way, South Dakota has just lost its only voice on the House Agriculture Committee, which shapes legislation on all manner of ag issues as well as on the rural electric systems and rural development.