His the only hand on the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion, Den­ver Rig­gle­man is sworn into of­fice

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By John Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

Be­neath clouds of par­ti­san ran­cor and a par­tial fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down, an up­beat 5th Dis­trict Vir­ginia Rep. Den­ver Rig­gle­man on Jan­uary 3rd was sworn into the most di­verse Congress in U.S. his­tory.

Chris­tine Rig­gle­man held an orig­i­nal 1789 copy of the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion be­neath the Bi­ble as her hus­band was ad­min­is­tered the oath of of­fice by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. The rare copy of the Con­sti­tu­tion, con­sid­ered the world’s long­est sur­viv­ing writ­ten char­ter of gov­ern­ment, was pro­vided for Rig­gle­man’s swear­ing-in by the Li­brary of Congress.

“I’m so over­whelmed by that honor,” the fresh­man Re­pub­li­can told the Rap­pa­han­nock News this week, point­ing out that the 5th dis­trict’s first rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Congress was none other than James Madi­son, who later be­came the 4th pres­i­dent of the United

‘I’m so over­whelmed by that honor’

States. The orig­i­nal copy pro­vided for his swear­ing-in was pro­tected by a binder dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

Sworn into of­fice on the same day that Speaker Pelosi was handed back the gavel by House Re­pub­li­can Leader Kevin Mc­Carthy, Rig­gle­man con­ceded that the cur­rent cli­mate on Capi­tol Hill is “one of the most tu­mul­tuous times in pol­i­tics in re­cent mem­ory.”

The day’s cer­e­monies were fur­ther marred by out­spo­ken re­marks by one fresh­man Demo­cratic law­maker in par­tic­u­lar, which drew the ire of Re­pub­li­can and Democrats alike. Rig­gle­man de­scribed his own re­ac­tion as “ex­pe­ri­enc­ing fire­hose treat­ment.”

“It’s usu­ally stated that, ‘My facts don’t care about your feel­ings.’ But what we have now in Congress is ‘My feel­ings don’t care about your facts.’ I’m try­ing to look at it ra­tio­nally, but po­lit­i­cal emo­tional the­ater is what we are deal­ing with. It’s very frus­trat­ing.”

Still, the newly-elected con­gress­man from Afton, Va., is anx­ious to get down to this dis­trict’s and na­tion’s busi­ness.

“Be­ing in the mi­nor­ity we don’t con­trol the sched­ule, we don’t sched­ule the votes . . . so we have to be on our toes,” he said of Repub­li­cans in the 116th Congress. “It’s go­ing to be trial by fire, but I’m OK with it, I was in the mil­i­tary, I’m used to that.”

He opined that much of to­day’s de­bate over build­ing a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der, and the re­sult­ing par­tial fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down that’s fol­lowed in its wake — which im­pacts nu­mer­ous con­stituents of Rig­gle­man’s in the 5th dis­trict — is “po­lit­i­cal theatre.”

“We can move for­ward,” the Re­pub­li­can said with con­fi­dence, although he ad­mits he doesn’t see it hap­pen­ing any­time soon.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Fresh­man Rep. Den­ver Rig­gle­man and his fam­ily pose with House Re­pub­li­can Leader Kevin Mc­Carthy fol­low­ing his swear­ing in as Vir­ginia’s 5th Dis­trict con­gress­man rep­re­sent­ing Rap­pa­han­nock County.

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