The 112th Congress will be sworn in an noon Washington time today, and opinions differ on the impact of Republicans regaining control of the House after being out of power for four years.
From the Washington Post:
Much of what Republicans do will be symbolic, given that Democrats still control the Senate and the White House. But the quick action will allow Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), the incoming speaker, and House Republicans to follow through on campaign pledges and to try to establish their party as a bulwark against what they see as an out-of-control government.
After all, the proposal to cut legislators’ budgets by 5 percent will make only a tiny dent in the federal budget, the vote to repeal the health care reform law is widely expected to be dead on arrival when it makes it to the Senate, and detractors dismiss the planned reading of the Constitution on the House floor as a publicity stunt.
But according to incoming Republican House freshmen and the small-government adherents who fueled their rise to power, these first steps that the new Congress plans on taking have real and potentially far-reaching implications.
An editorial by the New York Times:
Those who had hoped to see a glimpse of the much-advertised Republican plan to revive the economy and put Americans back to work will have to wait at least until party leaders finish their Beltway insider ritual of self-glorification. Then, they may find time for governing.
An editorial from the Wall Street Journal:
John Boehner takes the Speaker’s gavel from Nancy Pelosi today, and the transfer represents much more than a change in partisan control. It marks perhaps the sharpest ideological shift in the House in 80 years, and it could set the stage for a meaningful two-year debate over the role of government and the real sources of economic prosperity.
We say “could” because much depends on which Republican Party chooses to show up. Will it be the incumbent-protection and business interest-group machine that prevailed under the final years of Tom DeLay? Or will it remember that the real sources of it power and legitimacy are the tea party activists and independents who voted for Republicans in November? So far the signs suggest the latter, but the forces of Beltway inertia are formidable and will weigh on the drive to change the politics of K Street perks and payoffs.