Bridenstine and Mullin learn the ropes as rookies in halls of Congress
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Sunday, December 02, 2012
12/02/12 at 7:33 AM
Jim Bridenstine and Markwayne Mullin have spent the past two weeks attending a freshman orientation that doesn't include fraternity parties or directions to the student union - but that in some ways might not be all that different, either.
Mullin and Bridenstine don't officially become congressmen until next month, but they spent the weeks before and after Thanksgiving being initiated into an exclusive club: the United States House of Representatives.
Republicans representing Oklahoma's 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts, Mullin and Bridenstine were attending the orientation meetings expected of all new members.
"It's been a lot of fun to get to know the people who have been elected from around the country," Bridenstine said.
Mullin, a 35-year-old plumbing service company owner, sounded a similar note, and said the biggest adjustment has been learning, "You don't control your life any more. You've got to ask for permission to do anything above getting a drink out of the water fountain."
As a business owner, Mullin said he is subject to many ethics rules that don't come into play for other members.
"There's a lot of stuff that you can and can't do, and there's a lot more that you can't do," Mullin said. "This isn't one of those situations you want to ask forgiveness for. It's one of those you want to ask permission first."
Mullin said he will hold "listening" sessions in each of the 2nd District's 26 counties in the coming week.
Bridenstine, a 37-year-old business consultant, said for him the greatest realization has been the time demands.
"So far, and I'm sure it's not going to change, I've been very overbooked," he said. "There's been more than we can get to. That's been the most surprising thing. You really have to learn to manage your resources and time, and that's something I'm going to have to master quickly."
Mullin and Bridenstine said the two weeks were filled with individual and group meetings with other members, introductions to the various resources of the House of Representatives and receptions for different interest groups. Offices were assigned by lottery on the last day of orientation.
Making the second week even more difficult for Bridenstine was a lingering cold that left him hoarse. He expects to be a full-voiced member by the time the 113th Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3.
Bridenstine and Mullin campaigned on promises to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act - Obamacare - but President Barack Obama's re-election and small Democratic gains in Congress make that unlikely.
Bridenstine, though, said his positions have not changed one iota.
"Given the current conversation, they shouldn't change," said Bridenstine, referring to the struggle over the so-called fiscal cliff. "Obamacare is both taxes and spending. And more borrowing. The president wants to raise taxes but he's not wanting to cut spending.
"I see my role as being here to hold the line," Bridenstine said. "Yes, the president was re-elected, but Republicans won a majority of the House of Representatives. The people who elected me don't want the country going in the same direction as the president."
Original Print Headline: Bridenstine, Mullin learn the ropes as D.C. rookies
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Congressman-elect Markwayne Mullin (left) from Oklahoma's 2nd District walks with his adviser, Trebor Worthen, in Washington, D.C., on Friday. GREG KAHN / for the Tulsa World
Congressman-elect Jim Bridenstine (center) from Oklahoma's 1st District makes choices about his future office in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Friday. GREG KAHN / for the Tulsa World