November 4th, 2010
08:02 PM ET
3 years ago

House GOP transition team busy planning for new Congress

(CNN) - In a sign that big changes are coming soon in the House of Representatives, there's literally a new sign in the Capitol basement that reads "Office of GOP Transition."

In smaller type is the name of Oregon Republican Greg Walden, who was tapped by Minority Leader John Boehner the day after the election to head up the transition.

Boehner and Walden aren't wasting any time planning a Republican-led House of Representatives. Walden is busy recruiting members for a 22-person panel that will meet for the first time on Monday night. He wouldn't release the names but emphasized that the group would be "a nice cross section of our Republican conference and conference-to-be. You'll see a number of incoming members, you'll see people who are senior and people who aren't."

Meeting with reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday in the small office, Walden said the new transition office was set up with desks, computers and phones by 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, just hours after the midterm elections swept out more than 60 House Democrats and turned over control of the House to the GOP.

With few people on the staff so far, his wife has volunteered to answer phones.

The transition chief was quick to point out that the current House Democratic leaders and their senior staff helped set up the office and moved immediately to make the make the transition smooth. "They have been most helpful and most accommodating."

The Oregon Republican said he is focused on two fronts: taking a look at changes to the Republican conference rules - procedures Republicans would have to abide by, such as how to deal with earmarks - and reviewing the broader rules that govern the House of Representatives. At the start of each new Congress the House votes on a package of rules, and Republicans have already said they plan on series of changes including giving members 72 hours to read bills before they vote on them.

"Our primary goal will be to follow the pledge," Walden said, as he sat in the office below a blown up poster of the cover of the GOP "Pledge to America," a governing agenda that was unveiled in September.

He held off giving much detail on specific changes, saying he's awaiting the work of the new panel. "Our focus right now is what do we do to get this House up and running in a more efficient way in a less costly way that can allow us to get right to work focusing on jobs and the economy and cutting spending."

Walden said he didn't see any major changes to the House ethics rules, which Pelosi and the Democrats changed when they took over the House in 2006. "I don't see that as a lead issue for us at this time."

But one thing Republicans think needs some revision is the work schedule in the House. Walden complained that short two or three day work weeks under Democratic rule crammed too many floor votes, committee hearings and constituent meetings into long days and made it impossible for members to juggle their responsibilities effectively.

Walden said the public will also have a chance to weigh in on how the House should be run, noting Boehner has already set up a website to solicit input at http://www.gopleader.gov/newmajority. He also said he's was also planning to put out a old school "suggestion box" for people who want to anonymously weigh in with ideas and are reluctant to do it online.

In addition to guidance from the new transition panel, Walden said he planned to talk to Republicans who were on the Hill during the 1994 transition when the GOP took control from Democrats after 40 years and to Mike Capuano, who handled the transition for the Democrats in 2006, to ask what lessons they learned. "What did you do that you wouldn't do again? Where did you overstep, where did you make mistakes? What worked, so what are the pitfalls, what should we watch out for to get it right?"

But he also said Republican changes to House rules would help minority Democrats, giving them input on legislation. Walden pointed to Boehner's tenure as chairman of the Education Committee and his promise to make Congress more transparent. "He intends to open up this House and have open rules."

The transition team won’t have much time to do its work. Walden said they plan to deliver their recommendations to the Republican conference by the time the House meets to start organizing for the next Congress later this month.


Filed under: John Boehner • Republicans
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. ken

    No real plans, still no clues, give rich people tax breaks tosend jobs overseas, repeal healthcare= veto!!!!!!!

    November 4, 2010 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Batter up, Republicans next and we expect a home run, so stop kicking and stirring up dust in the bull pen.

    November 4, 2010 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |