As the green flag gets ready to drop on Tuesday for the start of the 115th Congress, Republicans lawmakers are excitedly looking ahead to a very busy legislative year, more than ready to push ahead with the agenda of a Trump Administration.
“Mike Pence’s message to us was buckle your seat belts,” said Rep. Dan Webster (R-FL), as he joined other Republicans at Monday evening closed door GOP meeting, on the eve of the new Congress.
“I feel like we’ve got a chance to help Americans get back to work and take care of their families,” said Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), as GOP lawmakers said they want to see Congress passing bills, and getting them signed into law by a President Trump.
“We’ve got to see us move the dial,” said newly-elected Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL).
“I think it’s always important that we not confuse effort with results,” Mast told reporters. “We can put a lot of efforts into things, but if we don’t get the end goal – the end results, then a lot of that was futile.”
“The economy next year has to be the most important issue,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH), one of many Republicans who are ready to move ahead on economic plans that involve tax cuts and more.
“This is going to be a very active legislative period,” Turner added.
“We’re excited about what the New Year brings,” said Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), who acknowledged that there are high expectations from the voters back home.
“We certainly are aware that there is a lot expected out of us; we’re going to do our part in Congress, I can promise you that,” Carter told me.
While GOP lawmakers were getting together in person, Democratic leaders used a conference call with reporters on Monday afternoon to criticize Republican plans to repeal the Obama health law.
“We believe this was a very essential piece of legislation that was passed to the benefit of all Americans,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), as Democrats ridiculed the lack of specifics from the GOP on what they would change.
“They have shown nothing in their ranting and raving that shows any level of knowledge of where they would go,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
While both parties were setting out some legislative markers for 2017, the new members of the 115th Congress were just getting settled in their offices on Capitol Hill.
Even on a federal holiday, some of the newly elected freshmen already had their offices open, everything nice, fresh and neat for now, as lawmakers celebrated their next step.
But in some Congressional hallways, there was evidence of a last minute rush to get out the door, with items unceremoniously dumped out on the floor for anyone to poke through – sort of our version of what I call, Legislative Dumpster Diving.
One thing I found in there, an old copy of the rules of the House, what’s known as Jefferson’s Manual.
I’m sure most of the 57 new members of the House and seven new members of the Senate won’t be that well-versed in those rules for a while – but they should probably take a look at those rules – as the new kids on the block arrive at what could be a very busy year of work in Congress.