The swearing-in ceremony for new Congressman Tom Rice, R-S.C., and other members of the 113th U.S. House began about noon Thursday, Rice said late Thursday afternoon, with the formal oath-taking happening about 3 p.m.
In the two hours after that, Rice took his first four votes as the first representative of South Carolina’s new 7th Congressional District. The first, he said, was to vote for the reelection of John Boehner as Speaker of the House. The other three involved House rules.
The vote on Boehner was closer than Rice thought it would be. The overall experience? “I’m in awe of the responsibility,” he said. “I’m in awe of the honor, of the privilege of representing the 7th District.”.
The Sun News asked Rice several questions. His answers:
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1. If you had been in the 112th Congress, how would you have voted on the fiscal cliff compromise?
I would have voted against it. This fiscal cliff is just the latest in a series of continuing “emergencies” that will continue until we address the underlying issues, the major one being overspending. The problem with what we’re doing by just being totally reactionary is that we have no plan. People don’t know what to plan on. Until we do that, I think business is going to be at a stalemate.
2. The current debt ceiling will need to be raised by March or federal budgets must be cut to keep the debt within the current limit. Do you support raising the debt ceiling, cutting federal budgets or something else?
I’m not going to vote to raise the debt ceiling until we have a credible plan in place to get our spending under control. Congress and the president didn’t take the time available to work on this plan in the last 1 1/2 years because there was an election coming up. I hope we can get out of that phase and get into a more proactive phase.
3. The fiscal cliff compromise delays mandated federal budget cuts - sequestration - until March. What do you think should be done?
I think we need to find ways to cut our spending. The Republican Congress has passed alternative cuts. We’ll have to look at that pretty hard and figure out what we can do.
4. An August poll by NBC News and The Wall Street Journal found that 82 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Congress is doing. That is an all-time high. Do you see that improving in the next two years and why or why not?
It’s not just Congress. It’s the president. As long as people focus on political things instead of what’s important to the country, I don’t see numbers improving.