The new Congress has been sworn in and John Boehner has been elected Speaker of the House, 241-173. Nancy Pelosi has handed him the (strangely over-sized) gavel and he just took the oath of office. In his acceptance speech, he stressed fiscal discipline and spending cuts.
The first vote the new Congress will take will be on new rules governing the Congress, including the one we told you about Monday that would allow Congress to withhold transportation funds. By holding the money in the bank, lawmakers can take credit for deficit reduction. They’ll vote on that in a few hours.
Meanwhile, the Senate is getting ready to vote on new filibuster rules. The new rules would make it harder for one senator to block popular legislation. It aims to break the paralysis that has beset the Senate recently, where a supermajority is required for every piece of legislation. The Senate has been the place where House bills go to die, often never even getting a vote. New rules could grease the skids for a little more action, a little less gridlock. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be checking in with the new members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. As I talk to them about their priorities for this session, I want to bring your questions with me. What would you ask of the freshmen members if you could sit down with them on their first week on the job?