By Miles Hilder - 08/03/09 06:09 PM EDT
What are the best and worst things you’ve found about Washington?
Rep. Harper: The best thing has already been some of the friendships that have been made. Part of that, too, is that there are some issues that you can work on with bipartisan support. I’ve been really pleased with what we’re doing on Fragile X syndrome — that’s X-chromosome abnormality, which my son has. I happen to be the only member with a child with Fragile X syndrome. It’s something that [Rep.] Phil Hare [D-Ill.] had already started working on; [Rep. Bill] Delahunt [D-Mass.] has worked on it; and [Rep. Brian] Bilbray [R-Calif.] has worked on it. We’ve got a little Fragile X caucus. Coming up here and being able to help … families who are raising kids with special needs is near and dear to my heart, and that’s been really a great thing.
The worst thing has been not being able to be four places at the same time. The frustration of the schedule — today I’m running between hearings in [the] House Administration [Committee] and a subcommittee meeting on the Judiciary [Committee] — and you just can’t be everywhere.
What’s the last book that you read?
Rep. Harper: It would be Dr. [Robert] Remini’s book The House. He is the House historian.
What did you want to be growing up?
Rep. Harper: I wanted to be the quarterback at the University of Alabama. I grew up just a big fan of Joe Namath, so that’s what I wanted to do. My dad went to Alabama; everybody in my family did. The Lord did not bless me with athleticism, so it didn’t take long to figure out that wasn’t going to happen.
If you could be any lawmaker besides yourself, who would you be?
Rep. Harper: I really like [Rep.] Mike Pence [R-Ind.]. He’s just been a really good guy to me. I feel the same way about [House Minority Leader John] Boehner [R-Ohio]. I really like Pence and I like the toughness of Boehner, and I really wish I could be a little bit of each of them rolled into one. I like the compassion I see in Pence, the toughness I see in Boehner and a lot of intelligence I see in [House Minority Whip Eric] Cantor [R-Va.]. These are guys that it’s obvious why they are our leaders. They bring a lot to the table.
What was your most embarrassing political moment?
Rep. Harper: Nobody knows this, but I was going out on Independence Avenue to catch a ride with my chief of staff. The light had turned red and the car pulls up. I get in, sit down and I look and it’s not my chief of staff. Getting in the wrong car on Independence. But the guy was really nice — I think he would have given me a ride somewhere.”
Who are your favorite Democratic members?
Rep. Harper: I would have to say Phil Hare. I greatly appreciate what he’s been doing on the Fragile X support issue. I greatly admire that work.
What household chores do you like to do, and which ones don’t you like?
Rep. Harper: I learned growing up that if you made up your bed so bad, that your mother would never ask you to do it again. I followed that with my wife. If you just mess things up enough, they don’t ever bother you much about it. I do the yard work; I take care of mowing the yard and doing all that fun stuff. My wife is a very fastidious housekeeper, so she really doesn’t want me messing with anything, because it’s not going to be as good as she’ll do it.
What’s the one thing about the way that Congress operates that you didn’t realize until you got here?
Rep. Harper: It’s the way we freely spend taxpayer money. We are really loose on the spending, and I think we can do a lot better job with that.