Jeffrey Sanchez tapped for top House spot

2017-07-17 | Boston Herald

July 17--State Rep. Jeffrey Sanchez of Jamaica Plain has been tapped to the high-powered chair of the House Ways and Means Committee after last week's startling announcement that Rep. Brian Dempsey, the House speaker's likely heir apparent, is leaving Beacon Hill for a lobbying job.

Sanchez, speaking to the Herald last night, said he is "in awe" that Speaker Robert A. DeLeo appointed him.

"It's an incredible honor, and I'm humbled by it," he said.

First elected to the House in 2003, Sanchez has chaired the committees on Public Health and Health Care Financing. He said his knowledge of health care issues was central to his winning the post, as Congress weighs changes to Obamacare and how states are reimbursed for Medicaid costs.

"The speaker and I had an incredible conversation, and we talked about the future and about how we have to make sure we continue to work on behalf of the people of the commonwealth, and keep our eye on those that are most challenged here," Sanchez said. "We have to try and figure out how we're going to navigate the storms that are impending before us."

House Dems plan to take up Sanchez's nomination today during a caucus. The appointment comes as Gov. Charlie Baker prepares to take action on a $40.2 billion state budget proposal from the Legislature that does not include the Medicaid reforms he sought.

DeLeo said in a statement that Sanchez's "intellect, experience and leadership skills make him an ideal fit for the role."

"Jeff is someone who is able to understand the finer points of policy and translate them into workable solutions," DeLeo said. "He has proven this time and time again in his work as chair of Health Care Financing and Public Health. This experience will be crucial as we address the health care challenges inherent to the budget and grapple with uncertainty on the national level."

DeLeo added Sanchez's "philosophy on leadership is based on listening, learning and bringing people together to build consensus."

Sanchez has been active on legislation aimed at addressing racial and ethnic health disparities. His name did not appear on short lists of speculated successors. Sanchez told the Herald he was surprised by the assignment.

"For me, it just happened," he said. "At the end of the day, I'm just another kid from Boston trying to make sure I do the right thing by everybody."

Dempsey, of Haverhill, announced Thursday he's leaving the Legislature to join lobbying firm ML Strategies. Long expected to take over the speaker position when DeLeo exits, Dempsey's prospects dimmed when DeLeo ended speaker term limits.

Herald wire services contributed to this report.