February 15, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas, R-Bakersfield, who chairs arguably the most powerful committee in Congress, will visit California State University, Bakersfield on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at 2 p.m. to address graduate students in the School of Business and Public Administration.
Thomas’ visit is part of the Executive Briefing program begun by Henry Lowenstein, dean of the School of Business and Public Administration. The program previously brought Richard Kovacevich, Wells Fargo Bank president and CEO; Stephen Lyons, Ford Motor Co. vice president and president of the Ford Division; Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s; California Treasurer Phil Angelides; and John W. Morgan, executive vice president of Occidental Petroleum Corp., to the campus.
Thomas is expected to outline his role as chairman of the committee, share some of his experiences as a member of Congress, and discuss legislation and various other developments in Washington.
“It’s a very important strategy to have major speakers share their experiences with our students and with Bakersfield community members,”
Lowenstein said. “And these visits create opportunities for faculty, staff and students. Companies and public officials such as Congressman Thomas invest in the excellence of our programs. These leaders see our students, like them, and start hiring them.”
First elected to Congress in 1978, Thomas represents California’s 22nd Congressional District which covers most of Kern and San Luis Obispo counties and part of Los Angeles County, including the cities of Bakersfield, Taft, Tehachapi, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles, Lancaster, and Ridgecrest. The largest economic interests in the district are agriculture, energy and defense.
In Congress, Thomas was elected chairman of the
Ways and Means Committee in January 2001. Created in 1789, Ways and Means is the oldest standing committee in Congress, and because of its legislative authority involving economic policy, international trade, welfare, and health care policy, the committee occupies a pivotal place in the House committee system. The committee’s jurisdiction includes measures relating to revenue – which under the Constitution originate in the House – trade agreements, Social Security, Medicare, and welfare. In addition to legislating, the committee exercises broad oversight authority in all these areas.
In his first two years as chairman, Thomas drafted the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act, the Trade Act of 2002, and the Medicare Modernization and Prescription Drug Act.
Prior to his election as chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Thomas served as chairman of the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee and had a key role in passage of the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996,” as well as the author of the “Medicare Preservation Act.” In 1998, Thomas was appointed administrative chairman of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare. He also served on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee. He was chairman of the House Administration Committee from 1995–2001.
He and his wife, Sharon, have two grown children, Christopher and Amelia.
Thomas graduated from Santa Ana Community College and obtained both his bachelor and master degrees from San Francisco State University.