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Kline now top House education, labor Republican

U.S. Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) has been named the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee.

ST. PAUL - John Kline used to carry the "football" nuclear codes for President Ronald Reagan; now he will carry Republican ideals in the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee.

The 28-member Republican Steering Committee today gave the Minnesota congressman the nod over Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington and Joe Wilson of South Carolina. Kline replaces Rep. Buck McKeon of California, who recently became the Armed Services Committee's top Republican.

Even with Democrats in control of the House, ranking Republicans often have considerable say in committee activities. As ranking member, Kline will be the chief spokesman for his party on issues that come before the panel.

"Serious battles lie ahead for the Education and Labor Committee," Kline said. "I have earned the trust of my colleagues and stakeholders in the education and labor communities, and I am ready to take the lead."

The Education and Labor Committee wields considerable power over a wide range of issues, from Head Start to college to workers rights matters.

Kline is serving his fourth two-year House term, with much of his effort centering on intelligence, military and veterans issues.

He lives in Lakeville and serves the 2nd Congressional District, which covers portions of Woodbury, other southeastern Twin Cities suburbs and nearby rural areas.

A Pennsylvania native, Kline served his career in the Marine Corps. It was then that he carried what is known as the "football," a set of secret codes a president would need to launch nuclear weapons.

Besides Education and Labor, Kline serves on committees dealing with intelligence, armed services and House ethics.

With Kline's election, he joins other Minnesota representatives with leadership responsibilities. Rep. Jim Oberstar of Chisholm leads the transportation committee and Rep. Collin Peterson of Detroit Lakes is agriculture chairman. Rep. Betty McCollum of St. Paul is senior Democratic whip.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.