Republicans will take over as the leadership of the House of Representatives in January. This week, a GOP transition team is meeting in the Capitol to discuss rules changes and other procedures so the new leaders can hit the ground running. One Californian on the team is San Dimas Congressman David Dreier.
Dreier's been through this before. In 1994, he was part of the transition team that ushered in the Republicans’ House majority during Bill Clinton’s presidency. In January, Dreier will once again assume the chairmanship of the House Rules Committee. His job on the transition team: craft the rules that support the GOP agenda.
"If you look at the platform that we ran on," he says, "it was to dramatically increase transparency and accountability and focus on reducing the size and scope and reach of government. And so we are working on rules changes that will allow us to do the things that we said we wanted to do."
That includes televised committee meetings, floor procedures that shift the focus from spending to budget cuts, and enhanced oversight of the executive branch.
"I’m not talking about subpoenas or indictment," he says. "If we’re going to cut spending, we need to have the ability here as an institution, the United States Congress, to focus in on executive branch agencies and figure out ways in which we can ferret out waste, fraud and abuse. And if there are duplicative programs, if there are other things, and that’s going to be the role of our Congressional committees when it comes to oversight."
The GOP transition team includes two new members who won their seats with Tea Party endorsements.
Dreier, a moderate, downplays any perceived ideological differences. He cites Sal Russo, the Californian behind the Tea Party Express, who says the Tea Party is really about two things: "reducing the size and scope and reach of government, and keeping taxes low so that we can create jobs. By that definition, I’m a Tea Partier."
Dreier insists the new Republican House majority can make Barack Obama a better president. He says it can help him focus on trade agreements rather than health care and other policies he pursued during his first two years in office. Dreier also jokes that his Republican colleagues warn him not to make the President so good that he’s re-elected.