In addition to four other Georgetown alumni newly elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 8, Republicans John Faso of New York (LAW ’79) and Francis Rooney of Florida (CAS ’75, LAW ’78) will join a total of 22 Hoyas serving in the 115th Congress. In an interview with The Hoya this week, Faso and Rooney reflected on their time on the campaign trail, their goals and their expectations under the administration of President-elect Donald Trump.
How will the Trump presidency affect what you do in Congress?
Faso: The American people obviously voted for change, and this is going to be an administration that is very change – oriented. A lot of the conventional wisdom, prevailing knowledge as to how government should operate, will be challenged. It may not be changed ultimately, but certainly the conventional wisdom is going to be challenged on a whole series of fronts.
Rooney: The people spoke clearly, defied the pundits and elected Donald Trump president, which gives us an opportunity to execute on the conservative government things — an effort to roll back the clock on eight years of anti-private industry and freedom-restricting liberal government policy.
How has your experience at Georgetown shaped the way you approach your job?
Faso: Well, I went to Georgetown Law School for four years, five nights a week, and one of the greatest things that I got out of the Georgetown experience was just building a network of contacts that I still, in some respects, rely on today. So it was a great network. Obviously, it was a very fine legal education, and I’ve used that every day since that time when I graduated, which was quite some time ago.
Rooney: Georgetown’s Jesuit education has been an incredible value to me and my family that me and my wife Cathleen have raised, my approach toward business, charity, civic engagement. The Jesuits teach us, first and foremost, to think and to see God everywhere. Those are two really important principles to deploy to try to reach a successful point in life.
What challenges have you encountered throughout your career?
Faso: The challenges are many. Trying to run statewide in New York State, which is of course very difficult for a Republican — that’s certainly challenging. But I think that the challenge stays trying to get people to understand the role of government. I’m a believer in a limited government. We have gone way too far in terms of centralizing power and authority in Washington.
Rooney: Most of my career has been in business. I’m first and foremost a businessperson. To build a company from a very small one to a reasonably sized one, you have to take a lot of risks, you have occasional setbacks. The key to building a good company is to have a focus on building a good culture, being honest and forthright with your employees and customers and work for the long haul and make investments for the long haul.
What are your goals for your upcoming term in Congress?
Faso: My goal is to work productively in the House to help spur economic growth in the country by tax and regulatory change.
Rooney: I’m a very conservative Republican. I have longstanding support from my party of raising money and advocating for conservative issues. So I’ll have the opportunity to advance some of those issues, pushing for limited government, getting our spending under control, getting back some of the job-controlling regulations that the Obama administration put into place and hopefully reforming the tax codes to be more stimulative of growth, so that we can return to the kind of 3.5 to 4 percent growth that our country had for many years.
In addition, a more macro priority is in southern Florida, we live by the Everglades, and we have Lake Okeechobee. The watershed that flows into the Gulf of Mexico through the Caloosahatchee River — 16 years ago, the federal government committed to pay half the cost to clean up the lake and the watershed, and to restore the Everglades. So far, Florida has put in a lot of money, but the federal government has not put in that much. One of my priorities locally is to work hard with other members of the local delegation to get some more of the money appropriated to execute on the Everglades Restoration Plan, which was passed in the year 2000.
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