Written by: Kathy Zelidon
Fresh from his victory as the continuing House representative for the 3rd District of Tennessee, Chuck Fleischmann came to Southern Adventist University on Nov. 10 to participate in a Q&A session. The event was sponsored by the Pre-law club at Southern. At the end of the session, students in the audience could ask Fleischmann questions through a QR code or by raising their hands.
Fleischmann answered questions, taught about the structure of the government and shared stories at the event.
The congressman began the Q&A by speaking about his background and the circumstances that led him to become a House representative. He recounted his childhood. His mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer when he was 9 years old and died when he was a freshman in high school. His family lived in five different states and he went to a total of seven schools before he was 18.
During this time, Fleischmann found himself drawn to politics and sports.
“I was one of those rare young people who just happen to love politics at a very early age,” he said. “I love two things. I love politics, and I love sports, both of which are very competitive, and both of which I still do.”
Fleischmann has served Tennessee’s 3rd District for 12 years and will soon begin his seventh term.
Fleischmann first ran for Congress in 2010 after being a lawyer for 24 years. He explained during the Q&A that he was motivated to run because he wanted to make a difference. Since he was not a local and a Roman Catholic, Fleischmann didn’t believe he would be able to win.
“Pick the right race at the right time, and do it the right way. Do it.”
“I just really wanted to make a difference, but I never thought I’d have an opportunity to win,” he told the audience. “I got out there, I ran and I won. And thank God, I’ve been elected seven times since I was elected the other day. I love this country, and I love our processes, but I never thought I would actually get a chance to win. I’m very thankful.”
Fleischmann explained his role in Congress. Since the Democratic Party held a majority in the House of Representatives before this current election, and Fleischmann is a part of the Republican Party, he serves on the House Committee of Appropriations. The committee is in charge of the spending and budgeting in Congress. For a bill to receive the funding it needs, it must pass through the Committee of Appropriations first.
During each of his terms in office, Fleischmann has served on three subcommittees. Currently, he is on the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies subcommittee; the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittee and the Homeland Security subcommittee. With the Republican Party becoming the House Majority in this election, Fleischmann assumes he will become the chairman of one of the first two.
Fleischmann was asked during the Q&A what he expected the Republican Party to accomplish in this upcoming term. He then explained that it has been difficult for his party to get things done.
“I’ve been through three administrations, and so far this administration has been the most difficult to work with. President Biden has control of the Senate, and he’s only been working with the Democrats,” Fleischmann said. “If he changes and will work with us, and if we will work with him, we may be able to accomplish some things. Candidly, we are going to have a very difficult government over the next two years.”
Fleischmann was then asked about his vision for bipartisanship in Congress. He told students that Congress has become more polarized in the past few years since districts have been voting for more left-leaning or right-leaning candidates rather than moderate candidates. Despite this trend, Fleischmann assured students that he is capable of working with both.
“I know what I’m doing when I get there. I know what to do on the floor; I know what to do on the committees and how to work with both bodies,” Fleischmann said. “Maybe I can take both of my skill sets, sit down and get some things done. That won’t be easy, but that’s where you get the benefits of having a skilled legislator and someone like myself.”
He explained that while the House is divided, he’s looking forward to passing a bill to return 70 acres of land to the Cherokee nation. The bill has been in motion for six years, but he believes both parties and the president will be signing it off. A Republican senator had been blocking his bill for six years but will finally be retiring, allowing the bill to pass.
Finally, Fleischmann gave some words of encouragement and advice to those who want to run for office someday.
“I don’t care if you’re a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent,” Fleischmann said. “If you have it in your heart that you want to serve and run, do it. Pick the right race at the right time, and do it the right way. Do it.”