Reading of Constitution, Cutting Spending Mark Day 2 of New Congress

BY David Chalian  January 6, 2011 at 8:38 AM EST

House of Representatives

Representatives convene Wednesday for the first day of the 112th Congress. Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

A civics lesson will transpire before C-SPAN cameras at 10:30 a.m. Thursday as Republicans have scheduled a reading of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives, a symbolic move viewed as a nod to the Tea Party movement that swept many of the 87 new GOP lawmakers into office.

The founding document has never been read in full on the House floor. The reading is expected to take between one and two hours, and will not include parts of the original document that were later amended.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., who proposed the idea, will lead the reading. Republican and Democratic leaders of the House will go next, followed by rank-and-file members on a first-come, first-serve basis.

“As the written expression of the consent of the American people gave to their government — a consent with restrictions and boundaries — the public reading of the Constitution will set the tone for the 112th Congress,” Goodlatte wrote in a statement.

Later Thursday, House Republicans will take their first step in fulfilling their campaign pledge to rein in government spending by holding a vote to cut the budgets of congressional offices and committees by $35 million this year.

The $35 million is a small fraction of the $100 billion they pledged to slash from the budget during the 2010 midterm campaign. That goal has now been reduced by as much as half, according to some reports.

Appearing on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor refused to put an exact number on what the cuts would actually be.

Also Thursday, the House Rules Committee is expected to begin the process of repealing the health care law, which Republicans have scheduled for a vote next week.

Senate Democrats will seek to counter that push Thursday by accusing Republicans of hiding the cost of repealing the law from their promise to reduce the federal deficit, the Associated Press reports. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the year-old health care law is projected to save $143 billion over the next decade — a cost Democrats contend would be added back to the deficit if the law was repealed.

A DEAL FOR DALEY?

Former Commerce Secretary Bill Daley spent much of Wednesday at the White House. There’s still no official word of a deal, but Daley is clearly the leading contender for the position of White House chief of staff. An announcement could come before the weekend.

“He has told associates he would accept the job if an offer was extended, and officials said Mr. Obama was favoring him,” report Jeff Zeleny and Jackie Calmes of the New York Times.

Gene Sperling, the former Clinton economic adviser and current counselor to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is expected to be tapped by President Obama on Friday (jobs report day) to replace Larry Summers as the director of the National Economic Council. He, too, spent some of Wednesday in meetings in the West Wing.

The White House staff shakeup, which departing Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called a “major retooling” Wednesday, is clearly aimed at bringing in some fresh (or semi-fresh) blood for President Obama. It’s also meant to signal to Capitol Hill and the public that this halfway point in the president’s term marks a moment of adjustment.

SANTORUM STAFFS UP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and likely presidential candidate, has made his first hire in New Hampshire, the critical first-in-the-nation primary state.

Republican operative Mike Biundo, who guided former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta’s successful bid for Congress, has been signed by Santorum to head up his New Hampshire state PAC.

John DiStaso of the New Hampshire Union Leader has the details:

“Santorum clearly understands the importance of New Hampshire. He visited seven times in 2010 and is planning his eighth visit next week.”

“He’ll attend the kickoff meeting of Ovide Lamontagne’s Granite Oath PAC on Jan. 11 at Lamontagne’s home and will make stops in Bedford on that day and the following day. He’ll return in February to speak at the Rockingham County Reagan-Lincoln Day Dinner.”

“Biundo has been involved in politics since 1991. He headed the New Hampshire Advantage Coalition and Guinta’s two successful campaigns for Manchester mayor before the Guinta congressional run.”

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