It was like the first day of school on Capitol Hill yesterday as new members of the 113th Congress were sworn into the Senate and the House. Among the freshmen joining the House was Republican Representative Ron DeSantis of Florida's 6th Congressional District. DeSantis was one of less than a dozen newly elected members of the house who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. He's also a Jag Officer in the U.S. Navy. Hopefully, he's prepared for upcoming battles in the House. Representative DeSantis joins us now to talk about his first day on the job, and what he plans to work on. First off, he says he would not have voted for the fiscal cliff deal passed earlier this week.
The House passed the Senate approved fiscal cliff legislation late last night with a 257 to 167 vote. Rep. Jeff Landry is a Republican from Louisiana and a member of the Tea Party Caucus. He voted against the bill and joins “Early Start” this morning to explain his reasons.
Landry says he was opposed to raising taxes on anyone, “but we're hiding the fact that we're spending way more than we're taking in.” He stresses the failure of the bill to work on the “16.8 trillion deficit and debt we acquired on the backs of future generations;” the looming debt ceiling fight ahead. “The sad part about it,” he says, “all we did was basically take us off one cliff, only to put us on one that's much higher.”
Landry also expresses disappointment in Speaker Boehner, criticising him for allowing the president to undo the promises he made after the 2010 elections. “The president was able to get the speaker to undo everything he promised he would do for the American people over the last Congress.”
All eyes are on the House this morning. Shortly after ringing in the New Year and plunging off the fiscal cliff, the Senate voted on a plan to avert it. But the question of 2013 is whether the House will follow suit. Congressman Jason Altmire is a Democrat from Pennsylvania. He's a Blue Dog Democrat, and therefore a fiscal conservative. Altmire, who is considered to be one of the most independent voters in the house, has crossed party lines before and is willing to do so to work with getting stuff done. He's also retiring at the end of this session. We hear from him live from D.C. this morning.
Rep. Altmire confidently says he will vote for the Senate approved fiscal cliff bill if it comes to the floor unamended. "I think you will get most all Democratic votes on the house, if they allow it to come to the floor. I think half the Republicans, maybe slightly more. This will pass if they allow it to come up to a vote.”
This morning, we wait with bated breath to see if a fiscal cliff deal worked out between Vice President Biden and Senate Republicans can pass the House later today. Ron Meyer is Spokesperson for the conservative group, American Majority Action. Long critical of how Boehner has been handling fiscal cliff negotiations, his group has suggested that Speaker Boehner resign for proposing his Plan B. Meyer weighs in live from D.C. this morning.
Meyer had correctly predicted very early on that the House would not pass Speaker Boehner’s Plan B measure. He offers his ideas about whether the bill that passed the Senate last night will pass the House this time around. “It could pass the House, but it definitely doesn’t have the majority of the GOP caucus right now,” Meyer says. He predicts that “at least 100 Republicans...will vote against this if they bring it up as proposed by the Senate.”
Meyer also speaks about the impact this fiscal cliff deal will have on young Americans who will feel the consequences down the road. “For people who actually care about saving my generation from a huge amount of debt, this bill is a complete joke,” Meyer says. “That's one of the things where I think House Republicans get it, where at least I mean the majority of our caucus gets it, where we're going to stand up against this plan because it's bad for young people, bad for our future. It's bad for the rest of America too.” Meyer believes a core group of Republicans will defend the idea that “this plan is gonna hurt and bankrupt our generation…and try to get a real solution done.”
Meyer also criticizes Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform, for his role in the fiscal cliff talks. “He endorsed Plan B. And guess what?” he asks. “We shot it down. We had more than 50 Republicans against that bill. Grover Norquist’s power…it’s just Washington created. It’s media created.” Meyer further says the idea that Norquist is “some sort of magician behind the curtain is an absolute fallacy.”
"Early Start with John Berman and Christine Romans" airs weekdays from 5-6am ET on CNN. Check in regularly for news, show updates and a little bit of fun.