Straughn, the committee’s Republican policy director, is known among lobbyists as the polite man, the nice man who tries to calm them when staffers reach conclusions they don’t like.
“There needs to be a person who brings it all together,” said Straughn, 38, who is also the lead GOP staffer for negotiations with the Senate.
In addition, he focuses on issues that are particularly important to committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., Straughn says.
Straughn grew up the son of a doctor in a suburb of Birmingham, Ala. He has spent much of his Hill time on the Agriculture Committee staff, including as an aide to Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., when he was the ranking member. That was during the development of the 2008 farm bill, when Straughn was responsible for the legislation’s conservation, sugar, and peanut programs. He also monitored the Agriculture Department’s implementation of the 2008 bill.
Many members and aides consider the current farm bill to be toughest in recent years because Congress wants to cut, rather than add, spending. But Straughn, who has worked on the last three bills, says each is a challenge “in a different way.”