By Rep. Scott Peters
It is my distinct honor to serve California’s 52nd Congressional District as a member of the 113th Congress. I thank you for this humbling opportunity, and thought I would give you an update after the first few weeks.
Many of you have asked what it’s like to be in Congress. Is it cool, or fun, or overwhelming? Is it intense and busy? Well, yes. It’s been all of those.
We have had orientation sessions where we have met our new colleagues, learned about congressional process; received briefings about policy issues from both partisans and from academics. We have been assigned our offices in D.C. We have begun to assemble our staffs in Washington and in our districts. I have been assigned to two committees of particular importance to San Diego: Armed Services and Science, Space and Technology. And I have taken the cross-country flight a number of times, still trying to figure out the best way to deal with the time zone change.
There are a lot of us new faces – 85 first-year members out of 435. Of these, 49 are Democrats — that means that one quarter of all Democrats in the House are brand new. By our sheer numbers, our class is positioned to have an impact in Congress on both sides of the aisle.
I’m also encouraged that my colleagues from both parties are so thoughtful and accomplished. We bring a variety of backgrounds and perspectives to Congress, and we have a wide range of views. However, there is one experience we all share. Every one of us heard the same thing last fall from the voters who hired us: stop the political games in Congress and start the problem solving.
If we can all remember and follow those marching orders — and given how many of us received them‚ we can help make change. Already, we have seen signs of bipartisan cooperation. To avert another “fiscal cliff,” I joined members of both parties in delaying a fight over the debt ceiling and adopting “No Budget/No Pay.” This is the concept I supported in my campaign last fall, that if Congress can’t adopt a budget, they shouldn’t be paid. This week, we have also seen encouraging announcements about bipartisan immigration reform from the Senate and President Obama. I think those proposals emerged only because Washington received a loud and clear message about cooperation in November, here and across the country.
We are far from declaring victory in our effort to make a broken Congress work, and we have a lot of hard problems ahead of us. I can only promise what I did in the campaign — I will work hard every day with everybody to make Congress work again to support opportunity, prosperity, health and a bright future for San Diego, Coronado, Poway and the United States.