Washington (CNN) - November's vote for change (2010 version), starts becoming reality this week. Exiting members of Congress lose their office space and the small army of new members and Speaker-elect John Boehner can openly measure and order their drapes.
But that's just the cosmetics. What are Republicans doing to make good on their version of the promise to change how Washington works?
In this week's American Sauce (our podcast devoted to substance without the political games, but with a hint of irreverence), we'll lay out specifically what Republicans are doing right now to change day-to-day business in the House of Representatives. Listen here:
Not to be all tease and no teeth in this Ticker post, below we list many of the changes.
Also in this Sauce episode, as the holiday leftovers wane, we take a look at national holidays in the U.S. There are 10. Many countries in Europe and Asia have 12, 13, 14 or 15. Japan has the most at 16.
Americans work more but we also make more. So we ask if the trade-off is worth it. We talk to a labor expert who proposes that: a) Americans actually take more of our holidays from work (see Columbus Day) and b) we add three more national holidays, including one tied to a single sport.
If you want to know what is happening in Washington, what is truly involved in the big issues of our time, but you don't have hours to read legislative language or watch hearings, American Sauce could be your answer.
As promised, here's a look at some of the specific changes Republicans are considering or making to the way the House of Representatives works:
– Done: Republicans have agreed to block all "earmarks," or pet projects, from bills in the next two years. BUT, they have yet to define "earmark" and some members, including Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota), want to allow exclusions on things like bridges and roads from the ban. (Amount a total earmark ban could save is in the podcast.)
– Done: No more "omnibus" or comprehensive bills. House Republican leaders have pledged to vote on issues "one topic at a time" and do away with bills that combine many issues, often unrelated to one another, into a single bill.
– Done: Allow all members to offer more amendments to bills, especially spending bills. This is a pledge confirmed by Republican staffers, but we do not know how it will work in practice.
– Done: Bills will be released to the public (and other Congressmen) 72 hours before a vote. Republicans have committed to make this rules change. Note that Democrats made this same pledge but did not carry it out on every bill. It is one to watch.
– Considering: A major schedule change. Republican leaders are looking into longer work weeks with rotated weeks off in between. They're looking at two or three weeks of time in Washington followed by one week for lawmakers to spend in their home districts.
– Considering: An end to some committee grandstanding, er, speeches. Currently, most House hearings begin by allowing each member to give a five-minute speech. This could mean hours of speeches before expert witnesses say a single word. Republicans are considering cutting those speeches down to just one or two from each party.
– Considering: Limiting the noncontroversial or "suspension" votes to a single day or time. Currently, the House floor is frequently occupied with series of votes on post office names or congratulations to sports teams. Members do not have to attend such votes, but they happen instead of potential debate time.
More details on these in the podcast here.