Busi­ness not as usual for Congress

The Covington News - - Opinion - Jackie Gin­grich Cush­man Colum­nist

“My first me­mory of a con­gres­sional swear­ing in dates to Jan. 3, 1979, when mem­bers of the 96th Congress took the oath. My fa­ther, Newt Gin­grich, was among them. Af­ter losses in 1974 and 1976, he had fi­nally won the seat for Ge­or­gia’s 6th Con­gres­sional District, to be­come the sole Repub­li­can con­gress­man or sen­a­tor from Ge­or­gia.

Ou r fam­ily moved from Ge­or­gia to North­ern Vir­ginia.

I was young enough to ac­com­pany my fa­ther on the floor of the House that first day while he and the 434 other rep­re­sen­ta­tives were sworn in.

It was ex­cit­ing, my fa­ther --full of en­ergy and ideas --be­gin­ning a life of pub­lic ser­vice.

While he was a mem­ber of the mi­nor­ity party (there were 277 Demo­cratic House mem­bers and 158 Repub­li­can House mem­bers when the 96th Congress be­gan), he was full of op­ti­mism for our coun­try.

Two years later, the nation elected as pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan, whose mes­sage of op­ti­mistic con­ser­vatism res­onated with vot­ers weary of the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges of the Carter ad­min­is­tra­tion.

This week, as much of the rest of the nation is pack­ing up Christ­mas or­na­ments, trees and lights, the 112th Congress was sworn in.

Af­ter the Repub­li­can vic­tory in the midterm elec­tions, the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives tran­si­tions from a Demo­crat­i­cled in­sti­tu­tion to a Repub­li­can-led body.

Af­ter the mem­bers are sworn in, the vote for the speaker of the House is taken. This year, it passed from Nancy Pelosi, D- Calif., to John Boehner, R-Ohio.

For the first time in the his­tory of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion will be read on the floor of the House dur­ing its first week of ac­tiv­ity. Since this is the doc­u­ment that mem­bers of Congress have sworn to “sup­port and de­fend,” it is right and fit­ting that they take the time to re­mind them­selves of their du­ties as elected of­fi­cials.

Ad­di­tional rule changes should re­sult in trans­parency and ef­fec­tive­ness. Un­der the new rules, bills and joint res­o­lu­tions will be re­quired to in­clude a ci­ta­tion on the author­ity of the Congress to pass such leg­is­la­tion as pro­posed un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Con­gres­sional com­mit­tees will be re­quired, when prac­ti­cal, to pro­vide au­dio or video of pro­ceed­ings. Com­mit­tee chair­men will have term lim­its.

Other changes to be made in­clude re­nam­ing com­mit­tees: The “Com­mit­tee on Ed­u­ca­tion and La­bor” will be­come the “Com­mit­tee on Ed­u­ca­tion and the Work­force;” the “Com­mit­tee on Stan­dards of Of­fi­cial Con­duct” will be­come the “Com­mit­tee on Ethics;” the “Com­mit­tee on Sci­ence and Technology” will be­come the ‘’Com­mit­tee on Sci­ence, Space and Technology.”

Of the 435 rep­re­sen­ta­tives tak­ing the oath of of­fice in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives this week, 242 are Repub­li­cans and 193 are Democrats.

A lot has changed since Jan­uary 1979: Both of the sen­a­tors and eight of the 13 rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Ge­or­gia are Repub­li­cans.

What has not changed is the nation’s need for an op­ti­mistic, con­ser­va­tive mes­sage.

Learn more about Jackie Gin­grich Cush­man at www.cre­ators.com.

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