Indiana‘s new congressional delegation has been sworn in, and gotten right to work. Congress will have just two months before facing another showdown, over raising the debt limit and avoiding automatic cuts in military spending.
New Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly and new Republican Representative Luke Messer both say the New Year‘s deal to raise taxes on top earners means the focus must turn to spending cuts. Donnelly says he‘s already talking with centrist senators in both parties, and predicts the moderate bloc will be more of a force in the new Congress.
“I was with Republican senators last night, and they said, ‘Look, Joe, the only thing we want to try to do is get things done: make sure we pay down our debt, we make our nation stronger, we create more jobs.‘ That‘s how I‘m approaching this; I‘m not approaching this as a Democrat or as a Republican,” Donnelly says.
Donnelly says his Republican predecessor Richard Lugar helped escort him up the aisle to be sworn in. Meanwhile, sixth district congressman Luke Messer brought his kids to the house floor for his swearing-in.
“It‘s hard to not be struck emotionally when the opportunity fully falls upon you to represent your state and your community and your nation — you know, an awful lot of work, an awful lot of sitting around waiting as they go through the procedure, and then a few very exciting moments,” Messer says.
Messer, a former state representative, says Congress needs to take a page from Governor Mitch Daniels‘ playbook and be willing to slash spending even in popular programs.
Messer and fellow freshmen Susan Brooks and Jackie Walorski voted to reelect John Boehner as speaker. The Ohio Republican narrowly avoided the embarrassment of being forced to a second ballot, as nine Republicans cast protest votes for other candidates and a handful of others abstained.