The upcoming 2019 session of the US House of Representatives will include five dentists: newly elected Dr. Jeff Van Drew (D-NJ) and returning members Dr. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Dr. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Dr. Brian Babin (R-TX), and Dr. Drew Ferguson (R-GA). These five members represent little more than 1% of the 435-seat House.
That 1% may seem insignificant compared to the number of attorneys serving in Congress. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are 170 professional attorneys serving in the House of Representatives (39%). However, these dentists are positioned to have a meaningful impact because of leadership positions.
Simpson serves as chair for the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Gosar chairs the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources and vice-chairs the Subcommittee on the Interior. Babin chairs the House Subcommittee on Space. Ferguson was appointed in November as the Republican Chief Deputy Whip.
“Dentistry was the perfect profession to prepare me for Congress. All of the folks I meet with essentially want the same thing: policy changes that come with no pain and little cost, and I am ultimately looking for the most pragmatic approach,” Ferguson told Dentistry Today. “But I’d say the biggest lesson of my first term is that pulling teeth is a whole lot easier than getting a piece of legislation to President Trump’s desk.”