EDITORIAL: New opportunity: Nunnelee leaves for Capitol with district’s good wishes

By NEMS Daily Journal

U.S. Rep.-elect Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., flew to Washington on Monday following a spirited and spiritual send-off from friends in the 1st Congressional District – a prelude to his swearing-in Wednesday with all other members-elect and delegates in Congress from both parties.
Nunnelee defeated incumbent Rep. Travis Childers, D-Miss., in the November election, and joins the new Republican House majority on taking the oath.
Nunnelee attended three ecumenical, bipartisan farewell prayer breakfasts in the district before leaving for the nation’s capital.
Good beginnings encourage good outcomes, and we join in the hope that the new Congress demonstrates a stronger spirit of bipartisanship and collaboration in addressing the unresolved fiscal issues demanding hard decisions both parties have artfully dodged.
Speaker-elect John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in an article in Monday’s Washington Post that he would pledge to “listen to the American people” and to reform the way the House has operated in the past under control of both parties.
“The American people want a smaller, more accountable government. And starting Wednesday, the House of Representatives will be the American people’s outpost in Washington, D.C.,” Boehner said.
In a gesture that reflects overall campaign themes, there will be a full reading aloud of the Constitution on Thursday, followed by a probable vote this week to cut congressional office spending by 5 percent to set a tone for how Republicans plan to govern.
In the Senate a crop of first-term Democrats is likely to assert itself beginning Wednesday with a push to change the chamber’s rules, which the Republican minority recently has used effectively to filibuster or otherwise block legislation.
That debate will be spirited because some senior members in both parties caution that tinkering with rules that were designed long ago to protect the rights of the minority party could backfire.
In the House, Boehner’s transition has been described as notable for the lack of triumphalism heard during Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s transition and that of then-Republican Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995. Boehner has made only a handful of public appearances since November’s election.
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of political communication at the University of Pennsylvania, said in the Post report that symbolic moments “telegraph a legislative philosophy” and “not having big galas and big balls suggests that you believe in austerity, that you believe in not spending money unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
The people of the 1st District clearly voted for change in November. The larger question is whether change on the scale needed is politically palatable.