July 26, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

California Rep. Denham Thinks Large and Small

Freshman Focusing on Increasing Efficiency Of Federal Properties

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Freshman Rep. Jeff Denham has focused on creating a commission to evaluate whether federal properties are being used to the utmost efficiency. He wants to see federal buildings consolidated, unused properties sold and the government shedding expensive leases.

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A former college football player, freshman Rep. Jeff Denham isn't exactly someone who blends into a crowd. In the halls of the Capitol, he's likely to have other Members around him, a team of sorts.

It's his impatience for inefficiency and dogged drive on even the most specific issues that might best define his approach since arriving in Congress. He's not bashful about having latched on to a pet bill that has been his main pass route in the House: "I don't take no for an answer."

Like nearly all of his freshman Republican colleagues, Denham wants to reduce the size of government. But he's taking that challenge literally.

Denham has focused much of his legislative effort on a proposal to create a commission evaluating whether federal properties are being used to the utmost efficiency. He wants to see federal buildings consolidated, unused properties sold and the government shedding expensive leases.

A key example, he said, is the annex of the Old Post Office Pavilion in Washington, D.C, which has been unoccupied for a decade.

His proposal has support from the White House, as a similar plan was in President Barack Obama's budget for fiscal 2012. Republican Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.) has a related bill in the Senate, but Denham's bill hasn't been granted a floor vote.

Denham, who came to Washington as a seasoned California state legislator, still believes it will become law.

"I am very proud of the fact that we're going to have one of the biggest pieces of legislation that gets signed into law done as a freshman," he said.

Denham sees this bill as pivotal to easing the financial woes of the federal government. He sought after this policy niche not long after being elected to the House, seeking the chairmanship of a subcommittee dealing with federal property management.

He has aligned with the mainstream GOP on spending issues and is a member of the conservative Republican Study Committee, but not the Tea Party Caucus. He's stayed away from more politically prickly issues, such as the minute details of budget cutting.

He is a frequent presence on the House floor and showcases his legislative knowhow sitting in the Speaker's dais during debate. During a recent interview with Roll Call in his Longworth office, Denham had to rush off to fulfill Speaker pro tem duties.

A former state Senator and farmer with almost two decades of experience in the Air Force, Denham places a high value on effectiveness, personally and for the government.

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