Nearly two dozen GOP members of Congress met today in Washington to discuss procedures they want to follow when Republicans take over leadership in the House. A Congressman from Orange County wants Congress to stop wasting time.
John Campbell is one of three California Congressmen serving on the GOP transition team. Its goal is to make the new Congress more efficient than it was under Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Campbell says whether you agree with her agenda or not, "I think there is some reasonable concensus that the House was not well run."
Campbell says Republicans didn’t like Pelosi’s top-down management style that often bypassed committee work and stifled amendments from the opposition. And Campbell says the House wasted a lot of time. "We were all very inefficient ‘cause we never knew when we were going to get here, when we were going to leave, or what we were going to be doing while we were here. I mean it’s absolutely amazing to be on the floor and say, 'Well, when might we be back? And what bill might we be voting on?' - and get an answer: 'nobody knows'.”
Campbell’s concern about time management led him to volunteer for the working group on scheduling. "I felt we needed a representative from somebody west of the Mississippi", he says. "Because we obviously have a much more difficult time getting here than all those many members who get here from an hour flight away. It takes me 10 hours door to door to get here."
Members of Congress usually arrive Tuesday afternoon and leave Thursday night to fly back to their districts. Campbell says it’s too early to say how the new work calendar will look. But whatever changes the transition team makes, Campbell says Republicans don’t take this opportunity for leadership for granted. "The voters did not entrust Republicans with the majority because they thought the last time we had it we did so great. It’s because they felt in the last four years the Democrats did worse and they’re giving us another try. So we understand that we need to do things not only differently from the way they did, but differently from the way we did."
Now it’s time for Republican House staff to meet in person to craft specific proposals – and for Republican House members to meet on the phone and decide which “best practices” to adopt in the new Congress. The session opens on January 5th. Freshman orientation for new members - almost a fourth of Congress - begins on Sunday.