In DC, Rep. McGovern to wield a gavel with family ties

WASHINGTON - When newly-minted chairman U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern calls the Rules Committee to order, the Worcester Democrat will wield a gavel that holds significance to his family and native city.

Having been in the minority for the last eight years and awaiting a chance to chair the Rules Committee since former Rep. Joe Moakley helped secure his spot on the committee, Mr. McGovern said his office realized as it prepared for the first committee meeting that it did not have a gavel.

“Well, when my family found out, they decided to surprise me with a very special one,” the congressman wrote Sunday in an Instagram post.

The gavel his family provided came from the congressman’s father, Walter, who owns McGovern’s Greendale Package Store at 444 West Boylston St. in Worcester and was once president of the Worcester County Package Store Association. It is the gavel that Walter McGovern used during his time leading that organization.

“A small piece of Worcester right here in the Capitol Building and something I’ll always treasure,” the congressman wrote in his Instagram post.

On Monday, the elder Mr. McGovern described the passing of the ceremonial mallet. “Jim was looking for a gavel,” he said. “He was banging (the table) with his hand. So I pulled it out of my suit coat.”

As head of the Rules Committee, the younger Mr. McGovern will wield great power to determine which bills reach the floor of the U.S. House and whether members can offer amendments. The chairman has described his new role as “essentially the traffic cop of Congress.”

The new Rules chairman is one of Walter and Mary Ann McGovern’s three children. The couple have five grandchildren.

“He’s a special son, I’ll tell you,” the elder Mr. McGovern, 80, said of the congressman. “I’m so proud of him.”

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