GOP Transition Chief: ‘Full Vacuuming’ Coming; No Changes Planned to Ethics Process

By Josh

Nov 15, 2010 1:58pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Republicans are welcoming their newly elected soon-to-be colleagues to Washington this week with the promise of major changes to the way the House of Representatives does business. The head of Republican transition efforts, Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today that the freshman class will help veteran members usher in the procedural overhaul voters say they want. “We're inviting this energy. This place needs a full vacuuming. It needs to be cleaned out,” Walden said. The newly elected members “bring the energy and the enthusiasm of the American people,” he added. “They're here with a lot of energy, and they’re going to get to use that energy to help us change this whole process.” Walden said Republicans would “absolutely” give Democrats more power to influence legislation – and secure votes on their proposals – than Democrats allowed Republicans over the past four years. “This has been building over a number of Congresses,” Walden said. “So it can only get better from here. Rank-and-file members of both parties have had it. And what you're going to see that reflected in the rules changes as we go forth. “We're just getting started. We're going to let this transition be a place where people of all parties — including the staff by the way — can weigh in and try and clean up how this place operates. And so we can get back to being — as Leader [John] Boehner says — more than just voters, and actually be legislators.” Walden rejected suggestions that the tea party classes need “controlling” by GOP leadership. “This isn't about controlling them,” he said. “We were all out helping elect these people. We helped raise the money for them. We went out and campaigned for them in their districts. We helped recruit them. “The notion that we don't know who these people are is really kind of humorous on the inside. They're part of our team. We're part of their team. We're one team that's going to move this country in a new direction.” And while many insiders expect Republicans to do away with the independent Office of Congressional Ethics – put in place by Democrats, but reviled by many members of both parties – Walden said that hasn’t been a focus so far. “Our focus on the transition is looking at other things that are much more important. And that is how the House operates, how to open it up. We're not focused in on the ethics side of things at all,” Walden said. “We're not working on that issue at all.” Watch the full interview with Rep. Greg Walden HERE. Also on today’s “Top Line,” we broke down this big week in Washington with Bloomberg’s Peter Cook. We discussed Rep. Charles Rangel’s ethics trial, the looming battle over the expiring Bush tax cuts, plus Rep. Heath Shuler’s, D-N.C., run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for Democratic leader. Cook’s fearless prediction: That Shuler, a former NFL quarterback, would get more votes than he threw touchdowns with the Washington Redskins. (Shuler tossed for 13 scores in 18 games with the Redskins in the mid-1990s; for comparison’s sake, 23 of the 54 conservative Blue Dog Democrats in the House won reelection two weeks ago.)  Watch the segment with Peter Cook HERE.

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