Nov. 10, 2012 – 11:01 a.m.

Experienced Apprentices in the 113th Congress

Elizabeth Warren is nationally known for overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, but the Harvard Law School professor and Massachusetts Democrat is not the only member of the 113th Congress’ freshman class with extensive policy experience. Many less-known newcomers will arrive in Washington in January bearing policy expertise they developed in nonprofit work or state-level lawmaking or with an aptitude for technical details gleaned from career experience.

Retired Marine Corps Col. Paul Cook, the Republican elected in California’s 8th District, chaired the Veterans Affairs Committee in the California Legislature, writing tax policies for small businesses owned by deployed military members as well as child custody laws designed to help military parents. Cook, who earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, also focused on enhancing veterans’ retirement homes.

Democrat Dan Kildee, who will represent Michigan’s 5th District, has offered his vision for urban planning to officials in Cleveland, New Orleans, Buffalo, N.Y., and other distressed cities. Kildee co-founded the nonprofit Center for Community Progress after overseeing home foreclosures in Flint, Mich., as the treasurer of Genesee County.

With a decade of service as a Navy pilot and years of defense consulting under his belt, Republican Jim Bridenstine, who will represent Oklahoma’s 1st District, could be an asset on homeland security issues. He has flown on counternarcotics missions in Central and South America and wants to enhance federal efforts to secure the Mexican border and stop the drug trade.

Advocates of the 2010 health care overhaul have a knowledgeable ally in Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democrat elected in New Mexico’s 1st District. She spent two decades at the helm of the state’s Aging Agency and its Health Department, and she pretended to be a stroke victim for an undercover investigation at a facility suspected of violations.