Thursday, January 06, 2011

Speaker Boehner Takes Charge

John Boehner had a most excellent day Wednesday. On January 5, 2011 the U.S. House of Representatives saw a significant change in leadership. Rep John Boehner is now the Speaker of the House. The vote was 241 to 173 with 19 Other/Present.

For the first time ever, Congress was live streamed on Facebook. Boehner has long been a leader in using new technology to connect with the American people. For example, he was among the first lawmakers to begin using Twitter in early 2007. And on his watch in 2010, House Republicans launched the successful America Speaking Out project giving Americans a platform to discuss and share their priorities with national leaders – a platform that led to the Pledge to America, Republicans’ new governing agenda for the country. Look for Republicans to continue aggressively using new tools like these in the 112th Congress.

A more humble tone has been set than seen in recent years. In his speech as he accepted the gavel, Boehner made good progress in working for a more civil tone in politics. His first sentence was "It's still me".

“Let’s start with the rules package the House will consider today. If passed, it will change how this institution operates, with an emphasis on real transparency, greater accountability, and a renewed focus on the Constitution. Our aim will be to give government back to the people. In seeking this goal, we will part with some of the rituals that have come to characterize this institution under majorities Republican and Democratic alike. We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better; that fast legislating is good legislating; that allowing additional amendments and open debate makes the legislative process ‘less efficient’ than our forefathers intended.

“These misconceptions have been the basis for the rituals of modern Washington. The American people have not been well served by them. Today, mindful of the lessons of the past, we open a new chapter.

“Legislators and the public will have three days to read bills before they come to a vote. Legislation will be more focused, properly scrutinized, and constitutionally sound. Committees, once bloated, will be smaller, with a renewed mission, including oversight. Old rules that have made it easy to increase spending will be replaced by new reforms that make it easier to cut spending. We will start by cutting Congress’ own budget.

“Above all else, we will welcome the battle of ideas, encourage it, and engage in it – openly, honestly, and respectfully. As the chamber closest to the people, the House works best when it is allowed to work its will. I ask all members of this body to join me in recognizing this common truth before the public it serves.

Increased transparency, reading the bills before the votes occur, cutting Congress' budget, reconcile legislation with the Constitution? It all sounds like music to the ears of voters. And a healthy dose of humility doesn't hurt either.

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