Politics

House GOP Transition Team Focuses on Overhauling House Operations, Transparency

Nov. 9: Republican Majority Transition Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.; right, gestures on Capitol Hill during a photo opportunity with the transition team.

Nov. 9: Republican Majority Transition Chairman Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.; right, gestures on Capitol Hill during a photo opportunity with the transition team.  (AP)

House Republicans were meeting Tuesday to map out a transition plan to take the majority in the 112th Congress, calling in former Rep. Jim Nussle, who helped guide the 1994 Republican Revolution into power, and prioritizing changes in both policy and procedure.

The 21-member transition team, led by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., includes four representatives-elect who all had strong Tea Party backing in their races.

The team will divide its priority list into three areas -- conference rules, House operations and schedules and House rules. It is also working on a survey for staff, members and the public to find ways to improve Congress.

Walden said the foundation for the approach is to "do unto others the way you'd want to be treated" and to "sweat the small stuff."

The small stuff that matters includes public perception and the importance of restoring confidence in the institution, he said. The team is looking at how to make the House more open, transparent and accessible to Americans and the press while also developing policies to create jobs and reduce spending.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a member of the transition team, said he wants to make sure that Republicans don't treat Democrats the way he thinks Democrats treated the GOP in the last Congress. He gave the amendment process as an example. 

"I'm in the minority. But I should be able to offer an amendment on the floor of the House. That never happened. And we're committed to make sure that we don't do those same oppressive things to the Democrats," he told Fox News.

Chaffetz added that he wants Republicans to "change the way we do business in Washington, D.C. The status quo is no longer acceptable. We want openness, transparency, little things like we have to be able to read the bill before we actually vote on it. You know?"

Walden added that the team wants to allow everybody to participate, regardless of party, in a constructive way as long as it contributes to the goals, especially since 80 new freshmen in the next Congress straddle both parties and bring new ideas.   

But letting outsiders into the inner sanctum of House decision-making has been a sticking point for Republican establishment leaders, who've already shown a preference for their own leadership team. 

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, has been deemed the preferred chairman of the Republican conference over Tea Party darling Rep. Michele Bachmann

In either case, a conservative will be the GOP conference leader. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., said his choice of Hensarling over Bachmann has nothing to do with Bachmann's skills nor should it be viewed as an affront to the Tea Partiers who were largely credited with helping create the GOP majority.

"Michele is a leader in her own right. And you know, she is somebody that we listen to. She is somebody that brings a tremendous amount to the table. And no matter which way the election goes for the conference chair, I think our members will be well served," he told Fox News on Monday.

GOP leaders have also suggested they will create a new position for a freshman member and are eyeing Rep. Kristi Noem of South Dakota for the position. Noem, another Tea Party favorite, would have to be elected by the GOP freshmen for the job.  

The GOP majority transition team is comprised of Reps. John Campbell, David Dreier and Buck McKeon of California, Candice Miller and Mike Rogers of Michigan, Jim Jordan and Pat Tiberi of Ohio, Tom Cole of Oklahoma, Mike Conaway, Jeb Hensarling and Pete Sessions of Texas, Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz of Utah, Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Doc Hastings of Washington, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Reps.-elect Martha Roby of Alabama, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Tim Scott of South Carolina.