By Emily LeCoz / NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – North Mississippi’s newest congressman returned from Washington, D.C. last week filled with optimism after his first month in office.
U.S. Rep. Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., said he’s impressed by the House GOP leadership and expects the 112th Congress to listen more to the demands of the American people than its predecessor.
Already, he said, leaders required legislation to go public 72 hours before a vote; cut its own operations budget by 5 percent; and gave representatives more time to spend in their districts instead of in D.C.
And despite a divided federal government – with a Democratic president, Democratic Senate and Republican House – Nunnelee said his party will push its agenda while striving for bipartisan support on issues affecting all people.
“We’ve got to get beyond the political accusations and find serious solutions,” he said, specifically about Medicare funding.
House Republicans recently renewed talks about privatizing Medicare. Nunnelee said it’s a real issue, but he deemed it too early in the discussion to settle on any one plan.
As for his vote to repeal the health care law, the congressman said leaders must now devise an alternative law. Among his suggestions are allowing small partnerships and individuals to buy into health-insurance pools, as well as take health-care premium tax deductions.
Nunnelee was sworn into office Jan. 5. He previously had served in the Mississippi Senate before being elected to Congress in November.
The biggest difference between the state Senate and the U.S. House, he said, is the sheer number of people with whom he now must work.
“This is a relationship business,” he said. “In the Legislature, I formed relationships with 51 people. Now I’ve got 435 people. I go home at night with the roster of the House. I study it.”
He studies not just the GOP members with whom he shares a party affiliation, but also the Democrats. Nunnelee said he’s eager to work with them, too.
And despite his earlier criticism of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, Nunnelee said he agreed with some aspects of the speech – including calls to simplify the tax code.
“It really was an awesome experience,” he said of the address. “I sat on the Republican side of the chambers, but I sat between Sen. Mark Begich, a Democrat from Alaska, and Rep. Jim McGovern, who’s a Democrat from Massachusetts.”
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or firstname.lastname@example.org.