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Congress: Day of turbulence for GOP

Here’s the Day 2 headline on GOP rule of the House from The Hill: “New House majority hits some turbulence.” “The House GOP majority hit some significant turbulence in its first week in charge, attracting negative headlines for not allowing amendments to the health repeal law and a bizarre chain of events that led to two of its members attempting to be sworn in by watching the ceremony on TV,” The Hill notes.

Pete Sessions and Mike Fitzpatrick, who weren’t sworn in but voted eight times, were attending an event at the Capitol Visitor Center, titled, “Fitzpatrick’s Swearing-In Celebration.” Roll Call notes: “Fitzpatrick’s campaign website listed a $30 fee for transportation costs for the festivities. In addition, more than 200 people who did not ride the buses attended the event for free, Smith said. According to a copy of CVC rules, the space may not be used for ‘political activities, including political campaign, political party, or political action committees activities.’”

“In his scramble Thursday to address votes taken by Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) before they were sworn in to the 112th Congress, Rules Chairman David Dreier proposed nullifying the votes,” Roll Call reports, but adds, “In lieu of a unanimous consent agreement to address the problem, which had been discussed, the committee will continue its work on the repeal bill and deal with the issue as part of the rule Friday, according to Dreier. The committee had met for more than six hours and had heard from several witnesses on the repeal bill Thursday. Committee Democrats questioned the constitutionality of Dreier’s efforts.” Ranking member Louise Slaughter argued they should postpone the hearing and address it on the House floor, but Dreier dismissed that, “saying that ‘the full House will address this’ when it considers the proposed rule.”

And how’s this for irony: “Under the Constitution, which was read on the House floor Thursday, only sworn Members of Congress are allowed to conduct official business, and Sessions and Fitzpatrick voted eight times each before the problem was discovered.”

National Journal’s Ron Brownstein calls this the “Benjamin Button” Congress. “Film (and literature) fans will recall that Benjamin Button lived his life backward, from old to young. Likewise, in the months ahead, Washington will relive many of the debates of Obama’s first two years -- only in reverse, as the new GOP majority tries to unravel his key policy achievements.”

“The general assumption in Washington is that this dynamic will place Obama on the defensive through 2012. And it’s undeniably true that the president will be forced to fight many rearguard actions to protect such initiatives as health care reform. But early indications are that the White House also see these Benjamin Button debates as a chance to take the offense for 2012 -- and to launch a renewed and reframed effort to contrast Obama’s vision of government’s role.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says he anticipates his caucus to be on offense: “We anticipate that the House of Representatives are going to pass a lot of legislation that virtually all of my Members are going to be enthusiastic about,” McConnell said at a news conference following the retreat. “I think the real question is: How many of the 23 Democrats who are up in ’12 are going to be more interested in cooperating with us in trying to advance an agenda that’s going to come out of the House of Representatives that we think is going to be largely favored by the American people? … So we don’t start with the notion that we’re going to be on defense. We start with the notion that we may well be on offense.”

The House passed a bill to cut 5% of its budgets.

Republicans also “introduced a bill on Wednesday to rein in the various ‘czars’ in the Obama administration.”

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says the goal is to win back the House: "I have been the minority leader before, and I put forth a plan for us to win the House for the American people and we succeeded," she told CNN. "I know how to do that, and we intend to do that again."