WASHINGTON ‚?? Freshman U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright toed the Democratic line with his first congressional vote Thursday shortly after being sworn in as a representative from Northeastern Pennsylvania.
In keeping with the partisanship and gridlock that dominated the House in recent years, the 113th Congress voted largely along party lines to re-elect Republican John Boehner as speaker of the House over Democrat Nancy Pelosi by a vote of 220-192. Twelve Republicans voted for other people, including retired Gen. Colin Powell.
Cartwright, D-Moosic, cast his ballot for Pelosi, while U.S. Reps. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, and Tom Marino, R-Lycoming Township, voted for Boehner.
Though it was a partisan vote, the speeches called for ‚??working together‚?Ě for the good of the American people.
Cartwright said he can‚??t wait to get to work. He was addressing supporters at his hotel and then at his office in the Longworth Building. He said three busloads of people made the trip to the nation‚??s capital to witness him taking the oath of office.
‚??It‚??s an incredible honor to represent and serve the people of the 17th Congressional District and help create meaningful change for Pennsylvania families,‚?Ě Cartwright said. ‚??Today the real work begins, and I look forward to addressing the challenges before us ‚?? from strengthening our economy, creating jobs and helping small businesses grow.‚?Ě
Cartwright will serve as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, also was sworn in Thursday.
Barletta said he was proud to vote for Boehner. ‚??Speaker Boehner has had a very difficult job over the last two years, not only trying to negotiate with President Obama and Senate Democrats, but also with a diverse Republican conference,‚?Ě Barletta said. ‚??He‚??s shown steady leadership. During our meetings, he lets everyone voice his or her opinion, and he listens to all opinions before making a decision.‚?Ě
Barletta said Boehner is familiar with the 11th Congressional District because he visited Northeastern Pennsylvania after the flooding of Tropical Storm Lee. Boehner was in Bloomsburg with Barletta to survey damage.
Barletta, 56, said this is an amazing and challenging time to be a member of Congress.
As a new member of the Homeland Security Committee, said Barletta, he hopes to be able to focus on fixing ‚??our broken borders,‚?Ě something he said he‚??s been talking about for almost seven years.
‚??It is one of the root causes of illegal immigration,‚?Ě he said. ‚??Folks in Washington are talking about immigration reform, but reforming our system without fixing the borders is like replacing the carpet while the roof is still leaking.‚?Ě
In addition to that committee, Barletta also was selected to sit on the House Transportation Committee. This is the second term that he‚??ll serve on this committee, and he‚??ll be one of four Republicans from Pennsylvania on that panel, with Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, chairing that committee.
But Northeastern Pennsylvania‚??s representatives in Congress ‚?? Barletta, Cartwright, Marino and Casey ‚?? all agreed that it‚??s time to reach across the aisles and for Democrats and Republicans to work together.
‚??As the new Congress convenes, Democrats and Republicans should come together on an agenda that reduces the deficit, creates jobs and continues to grow the economy,‚?Ě Casey said on the first day of his second, six-year term. ‚??I look forward to working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put into place strategies that strengthen the middle class by creating good-paying jobs.‚?Ě
Pennsylvania‚??s other U.S. senator, Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, announced that he has been appointed to serve on the powerful Senate Finance Committee.
In addition to the Finance Committee, Toomey will retain his seats on the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Budget; and Joint Economic committees.
He will no longer be serving on the Senate Commerce Committee.
Boehner told the crowd of representatives and their families that ‚??history runs through this building.‚?Ě He said it was time that all members became a little awestruck again.
‚??We stand here not to be something, but to do something,‚?Ě he said. ‚??We have too much debt and not enough jobs. The American dream is in peril.‚?Ě