Political News

Ellmers to join GOP House majority in new Congress

Posted January 2, 2011
Updated January 3, 2011

— The 112th Congress begins its session Wednesday, ushering in a newly elected Republican majority in the House of Representatives, including North Carolina Congresswoman Renee Ellmers.

Ellmers defeated incumbent Bob Etheridge for the 2nd District seat that includes Harnett County. 

Ellmers told WRAL News what she hopes to accomplish on Capitol Hill.

"I want to get my work done. I want to do everything I can to change things, get things back on track," she said. "I keep wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous, I will work to make them have a prosperous 2011."

The Republican agenda overall for the new Congress may have a greater impact on the 2012 elections than on the lives of Americans in the next two years.

Republicans promise to cut spending, roll back President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and prevent unelected bureaucrats from expanding the government's role in society through regulations that tell people what they must or can't do. Getting this agenda through the House may be easier than in the Senate, given the GOP's 241-194 majority in the House. Getting the Senate to act will be a challenge. Democrats still hold an edge there, though smaller than the one Obama had during his first two years in the White House.

Even if the next two years end in gridlock, Republicans will have built a record for the next election that they hope will demonstrate to voters that they can get it right.

House Republicans also pledge to hold tough investigations and hearings on the president's programs and policies, ending the free pass that Democratic committee chairmen gave the Obama administration the past two years.

Republicans insist they'll bring key administration officials before congressional microphones and that the public can watch the webcasts. The friendly tone of inquiry from Democratic chairmen will be replaced by Republicans demanding answers to these questions: What's the purpose of this program? Is this the best use of the taxpayers' money?

The chief Republican investigator, Rep. Darrell Issa of California, is raring to get started, and he's not alone. Issa, the incoming chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been especially critical of what he calls waste in Obama's economic stimulus spending.

"The sooner the administration figures out that the enemy is the bureaucracy and the wasteful spending, not the other party, the better off we'll be," he told "Fox News Sunday."

Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky, incoming leader of the House Appropriations Committee, says he wants top officials from all major government agencies to appear and justify their spending.

The next chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Republican Fred Upton of Michigan, says he'll work to stop over-zealous government regulators. A big target for him is the Environmental Protection Agency, which is writing rules to limit greenhouse gases blamed for global warming after Obama's effort to get Congress to do it stalled in the Senate last year.

"We are not going to let this administration regulate what they've been unable to legislate," he told Fox.

Upton, like Issa, will have a large investigative staff.

"Republicans need to make sure they bring forward solutions, even though it may be difficult to get them accomplished," Rep.-elect Kristi Noem, R-S.D., said in an interview. She said the lesson from the November election is, "The American people will replace people if they're no longer in touch or listening."

Noem benefited from that view, defeating Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. Noem has risen to the forefront of the freshman class; she was chosen to serve in the GOP leadership.

In the Senate, there's a chance the Democrats will replace Republicans as the party of "no," assuming the House GOP passes much of its agenda. Democrats will control the Senate 51-47 with two independents, and only need 41 votes to block initiatives that arrive from the House.

Among the reasons that the Republican agenda will likely have a bigger impact on the next election than on the day-to-day lives of most Americans are:

—Much of the government spending has been politically untouchable. About 60 percent goes for entitlement programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. The nation also is paying for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and major reconstruction projects in those countries. Both parties have considered it politically foolish to mess with Medicare and Social Security. Also, Republicans don't have a clean record as budget cutters.

"Spending restraint on the Republican side is a theory yet to be proven," said Robert Bixby, executive director of the budget-watching Concord Coalition. He noted that Democratic President Bill Clinton's budget surplus turned into deficit under Republican George W. Bush.

—Obama may be more willing to compromise with Republicans than in his first two years, but he will fight repealing the health care law. Senate Democrats will almost certainly stop major revisions. If for some reason they don't, Obama will use his veto to stop them.

—Republican attempts to overturn regulations on issues such as global warming also could falter in the Senate. When the EPA announced just before Christmas that it planned to set greenhouse gas emissions standards for power plants and oil refineries, Upton said, "We will not allow the administration to regulate what they have been unable to legislate." Senate Democrats may have a different view.

Many eyes in the new session will focus on Issa, who will have subpoena power and can investigate any government program.

Issa has played good cop and bad cop. He criticized Obama's most important programs, including the economic stimulus. But less than a month after the Republicans won big in November, he had a private peace meeting with Vice President Joe Biden. Neither is shy about entering a political brawl, but initially they have pledged to work together against waste and for openness in tracking government spending.

Issa has not discouraged articles suggesting he will send the administration subpoenas by the trainload. But he also wants to give subpoena power to nonpolitical government watchdogs — inspectors general — and let them use that authority to uncover fraud, waste and abuse. With a degree of political cover, Issa could then use those findings to conduct his own investigations.

If the peace pact between Biden and Issa holds, there are other issues where the Obama administration and congressional Republicans can compromise — as they did on extending Bush-era tax cuts for all, coupled with an extension of unemployment benefits sought by the president.

The incoming House Ways and Means Committee chairman, Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, favors overhauling tax laws. So does Obama.

"The tax code is longer than the Bible, but without the happy ending," Camp has said. "What we need is a comprehensive reform of the tax code that expands the tax base and lowers rates by being fairer, simpler and conducive to growth."

That's not too far, in theory, from Obama's desire to "simplify confusing provisions in the tax code, encouraging saving and creating a tax system that works for all Americans." The challenge will be in reaching agreement on the details.

There could be times when Obama will be closer to Republicans than to liberal Democrats, who were furious that Obama agreed to continue tax cuts for the wealthy — and to levy inheritance taxes only on the very richest Americans.

Maryland Rep. Steny Hoyer, who is being replaced as the House's majority leader, was asked by a reporter near the end of the last Congress how much trust exits between Obama and liberals.

"On a scale of one to 10 I'm not going to give you how much," he said. "As you know, I'm not willing to kind of create or affirm a breach between the White House and the Congress. I think there's always tension and there should be."


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  • gunny462 Jan 3, 2011

    "Never mind all that CENSORED.......she has to get her Mojo workin' on how to stop that dreadful "Muslim Victory Mosque".......like she PROMISED."

    Considering 68% of americans believe the mosque should NOT be built there.. whats the problem.. Oh btw thats 2/3's of americans, here's another peanut for ya!

  • gunny462 Jan 3, 2011

    "that didn't make the news as much as all the outside/anonymous/ "contributors" that financed the video of those poor college student/innocent angels being assaulted by the evil Bob Etheridge"

    LOL tkae the blue pill smitty, not the red one! the men in black might come and get you next. Here's a peanut, now go in the corner and play some more.

  • 6079 SMITH W Jan 3, 2011

    ......and I'm really glad she overcame her "Obstackles" too! ;)

  • 6079 SMITH W Jan 3, 2011

    Thanks for clearing that up........I had no idea that her family's talent for idle chit-chat helped launch her into stardom.......that didn't make the news as much as all the outside/anonymous/ "contributors" that financed the video of those poor college student/innocent angels being assaulted by the evil Bob Etheridge. Anyhow, good luck with that whole "access to the idjit congresswoman" thingy....you'll need it. And thanks for your support of the Mama Screech-sanctioned carpetbagger "representative". ;)

    (Did you hold hands with "The Family" and sing KOOMBAYAA too?) ;)

  • JohnFLob Jan 3, 2011

    6079 SMITH W January 3, 2011 10:19 a.m.

    Apparently you have not/were not paying attention. One of the biggest obstacles Renee had to overcome was the massive disparity between her campaign resources and those of the entrenched brokers backing Etheridge.

    I do not believe that Renee will forget those that elected her. During the past year I have found her to be the most approachable and most easily understood of all the candidates for numerous offices. She and her family, collectively and individually, were at ease having even casual conversation on a variety of issues and topics. I had several opportunities to sit with them and basically chit chat. No other candidates gave their constituents that level of accessibility. This was consistent for the whole year not just the last days of the campaign

    One of the best features of her campaign was the support she received from a large following of everyday folks from across the nation and especially within the NC2 district.

  • 6079 SMITH W Jan 3, 2011

    Never mind all that CENSORED.......she has to get her Mojo workin' on how to stop that dreadful "Muslim Victory Mosque".......like she PROMISED. ;)

  • eastwest Jan 3, 2011

    The American public needs to realize that we don't need democrats OR republicans running government. We need people to run for office that will be united for 1 cause, to get our national debt paid off in full and stop the insane spending. The USA will cease to exist if this isn't stopped.

    Yes and that includes Social Sec, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlement programs. These programs are unsustainable anyway and will blow up at the seams if they are not changed radically and soon. Taxpayers won't see a dime of your SS money we contributed because its a ponzi scheme that won't work under current mathematical actuarial formulas

    All the government massive departments like dept of education, dept of energy, dept of interior, EPA, etc also need to be eliminated. They are a massive drag on our economy. The states and should run the local economies. This is what our country was founded upon.

    Until these politicians become united, we will have more of the same dysfunctional mess.

  • ncguy Jan 3, 2011

    kristi noem is hot

  • webberx101 Jan 3, 2011

    Real hope... Pray for her to stay strong and not double-cross us like Deborah Goldman...

  • eastwest Jan 3, 2011


    Your global warming is junk science. These are natural weather patterns, NOT caused by naturally released CO2. Give me a break. It is the height of all arrogance to proclaim mere humans are causing the earth to change climate. So called greenhouse gas, Carbon, is created by God himself and is not causing any climate change. This is the worst junk science, totally disproven. The EPA will only succeed in tripling our electric bills and gasoline costs if they are successful. China and India will not do this idiotic regulations, so its a bust anyway. Government needs to just get out of the way of capitalism. The govt should defend our borders and that is it. Otherwise bankruptcy and default on the 14+ trillion in debt is going to happen.