Call it D.C. 101.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) is taking freshman Rep. Trey Gowdy on a field trip into her city on Monday, Gowdy said.
The South Carolina Republican is the new chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, District of Columbia, Census and the National Archives, the panel with oversight over the District.
But since he’s new to town, he said he’s not very familiar with D.C. issues, so he’s consulting the experts. He has already met with D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi and former Mayor Anthony Williams. Now Norton gets her turn.
“I want to go wherever she wants me to go. This is her town and she’s the expert. I need to learn,” Gowdy said. “It’s important for me to not meet with people in Longworth [House Office Building], where my office is, but to go to them.”
But Gowdy might get a cool reception in some parts of the city. The subcommittee chairmanship is a position some activists disparagingly call the “D.C. Overlord.” That’s not how Gowdy sees it, however.
“I didn’t run for mayor of the District of Columbia. I didn’t run for whatever other titles people want to give, some positive, some not so positive,” he said. “Give me a chance, see what I do. I’m not asking you to trust me, I’m just saying give me a chance to hold hearings.”
He said he views the oversight role as an important and constitutionally mandated one. The former prosecutor said he will ask fair questions and expects honest answers.
Of course, his predecessor as the top Republican on that committee is weighing in too. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), whom activists and journalists in the city painted as a villain for his opposition to D.C. home rule, is already on a first-name basis with Gowdy.
“He can be the D.C. overlord now. I’ll pass the baton,” Chaffetz joked.
“I need to spend considerably more time with him on that issue,” Chaffetz added more seriously. “There’s a lot to learn. He’s got to spend some time with the mayor and understand what this city is trying to do.”