SOUTHWEST FLORIDA - Nearly one hundred new members were welcomed into the 113th Congress with a record number of minorities and women taking the oath. Republican Congressman John Boehner won re-election as Speaker of the House. Democratic Congresswoman Nancy pelosi will keep her job as House Minority Leader. On the senate floor, Vice President Joe Biden charmed the families of Senators.
Among those sworn in Thursday was Southwest Florida's own freshman Congressman Trey Radel. There's no time to ease in. Radel and all the others new to Congress will be expected to hit the ground running, starting Friday with a critical vote. The new lawmakers are promising more compromise and less drama.
Before being sworn in, WINK News met with Congressman Radel. Even then, he told us he was preparing for the battle ahead. "Studying and listening. It is imperative that anyone now in this freshman class heading to Washington has a grasp of what our problems are," Radel said.
According to Radel, the root of country's financial problems is out-of-control spending. As Representative of Florida's 19th District, he's looking to change that. "You are looking at Medicare, Social Security and Defense spending," Rade; said. "And as a Republican, I will even say we need to push a reset button on Defense spending as well. We need to look at these three things that are growing out of control in terms of spending and tackle those problems, but no one is right now."
The work begins immediately with several issues left over from the last session, including:
--a bill providing financial relief for victims of Superstorm Sandy.
--deep spending cuts known as sequestration, delayed during this week's Fiscal Cliff debate.
--and a bill to increase the nation's debt limit.
"While it's daunting, this is what I am ready for," freshman Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee said. "Im here to work."
This group of fresh faces, 13 new Senators and 82 new House members, is promising progress following one of the least productive terms in history. The last group passed just 151 bills, the fewest in 65 years.
"To me, right now, I believe the adults need to come to the table and tackle our true problems," Radel said.
It's a sentiment echoed on the newest cover of Bloomberg Businessweek, showing Congress with the headline, "Babies."
"It's a privilege," freshman Rep. Joe Kennedy said. "You realize the hard part is still what lies ahead."
The first major vote comes Friday when the House takes up part of the Superstorm Sandy relief package. Lawmakers will consider $9 billion for flood insurance, and another $51 billion in aid January 15th. Meanwhile, the vote on automatic spending cuts has been pushed back to the end of February.