WASHINGTON – Matt Cartwright is the new guy in town – well, one of them.
Cartwright, 51, of Moosic, will be sworn in today as the new representative of the 17th Congressional District, a seat held for 20 years by Tim Holden of Pottsville.
Cartwright was welcomed to Washington on Wednesday by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, who visited his Democratic colleague in Cartwright's new office in the Longworth Building.
Barletta was bearing gifts: framed jerseys of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
Shawn Kelly, Barletta's communications director, said Barletta received the jerseys during his first term in Congress, but because those sports arenas are no longer in the 11th District and are in the 17th District, Barletta wanted to present them to Cartwright.
Rep. Barletta wanted to present the jerseys to Rep.-elect Cartwright as a welcome-to-Washington gift to remind him of home when he's here in Washington, Kelly said.
Cartwright said he is anxious to take office and said he will make constituent service and grant-writing his top two priorities.
There are no earmarks anymore, so seniority is out the window, said Cartwright. Funding will be based on the merit of projects, and that's where good grant-writing comes in.
Cartwright said he has been appointed to one committee, Oversight and Government Reform. He was hoping to sit on the House Transportation Committee. If I'm lucky enough to be re-elected to a second term, maybe I will get on that committee, he said.
Cartwright said he hopes to secure funding for levee projects for unprotected municipalities along the Susquehanna River such as West Pittston and Plains and Jenkins townships.
Cartwright hopes to be appointed to other committees, perhaps Natural Resources or Foreign Affairs, but he will work with members of the Transportation Committee to try to get funding to complete the passenger rail service in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
Cartwright said he already has reached across the aisle to GOP members and will continue to forge relationships. You won't find another candidate more dedicated to progressive Democratic ideals than I am, he said. But I like people; Republicans are people too.
Barletta and Cartwright said they will focus on job creation.
Barletta was appointed to the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, which is responsible for border security, protecting the country from terrorist attacks, responding to disasters and protecting national infrastructure.
Barletta will continue to serve on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee. He will no longer be a member of the Committee on Small Business.
U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, Tom Marino and Matt Cartwright will attend a Mass at 8 this morning in St. Joseph's Church near the Capitol building. The Rev. John Jordan, a West Pittston native, will celebrate the Mass. Afterward, the three men will head to the Capitol for swearing-in ceremonies beginning at noon. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, of Scranton, also will be sworn in at noon today.