Perriello and Warner Sworn In; Perriello Named to the Transportation Committee

By: Mark Tenia Email
By: Mark Tenia Email

January 6, 2008

Sworn in Tuesday, Senator Mark Warner will replace 30 year veteran Senator John Warner. In the 5th district Tom Perriello replaces six time incumbent Virgil Goode. Their victories mean important changes for Virginia in the House and the Senate.

"Virginia will miss their seniority and their seats at the table in the next few years but the new guys will build up seniority over time if they can be reelected," said Cordel Faulk of the UVa Center for Politics.

That includes a seat in the House Appropriations Committee where Virgil Goode could fight for Virginia projects and a loss of military clout in the Senate, John Warner a former marine and naval officer.

Individually the two will face challenges also. Faulk says Mark Warner will find it harder to find bipartisanship as a senator than he did as governor.

"It's going to be difficult because the senate is just a hot house of partisan activity," said Faulk.

And will have a hard time adjusting to the slow nature of the senate.

"The senate's very slow, it's deliberative, and we need to consider this and let's talk about it just a little bit more and i think he's going to find that very frustrating," said Faulk.

As for Perriello, his biggest challenge might be finding his voice.

"Perriello is going to be one of 435 members, he's going to be new, He's not going to be in the leadership. it's going to be very hard for him to command that anything get done," said Faulk.

And as Democrats, both Warner and Perriello will have to convince the public they made the right choice.
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"Because all of George Bush's problems, all the problems they could say belong to george bush and the bush administration now belong completely and solely to the Democrats," Faulk.

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Media General News Service
Published: January 7, 2009

WASHINGTON — Democrat Tom Perriello was no sooner sworn in as the new representative of Virginia’s 5th district Tuesday than he saw his name atop a list.

He had the distinction of being named the third-most vulnerable member of Congress by The Hill newspaper.

Perriello won his seat by just 745 votes, and he said he’s continuing his high-energy campaign style in Washington, where he has rented a basement apartment near the Capitol. He and his fellow freshmen have no intention of spending their whole time here learning the ropes, he said.

“We’re not going to wait around. We’re going to be heard,” said Perriello, 34.

When in Washington for freshman orientation in November, Perriello was still locked in a recount with Republican Rep. Virgil Goode, who had held the seat for 12 years.

This time, Perriello walked in with his own name by the office door — a reminder, he said, of the “sacred trust” voters have placed in him.

“Seeing that bronze plaque is a reminder of that everyday, every moment I walk in here,” he said on what amounted to a busy first day of the new Congress.

Perriello never did finish the breakfast biscuit he was nibbling between a morning interfaith service at a local church, a round of interviews and a couple of errands. He had to pick up House voting and member identification cards before the day’s organizational votes on the floor.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also announced that amid intense competition, Perriello was given a seat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The panel has jurisdiction over bridges, roads and other public works.

It has been at least a decade since a Virginian held a seat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure panel, which will play a large role in shaping the upcoming economic stimulus package.

Sen. John Warner, who retired Monday, had been Virginia’s strongest voice in federal legislation concerning transportation issues. Warner helped rewrite funding policies to increase the amount of gas-tax revenues that were returned to Virginia from federal coffers.

Considering his assignment on Transportation, Perriello decided against delivering his first floor speech Tuesday. He’s been working on a speech about Afghanistan and the economic stimulus bill.

On the economic stimulus bill expected from Barack Obama, Perriello said he is looking for details and doesn’t want to see Congress repeat what he calls a $700 billion “mistake” — last fall’s bailout bill.

“We do need aggressive action at the federal level,” he said, “but it needs to be smart and it can’t continue to be throwing money at the problem.”

Perriello met with constituents in his new office and started to put a few items on the walls — including a family photo, a University of Virginia hat and an American flag.

He skipped an optional, ceremonial swearing in with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Tuesday afternoon and attended a reception with Virginians in a House office building nearby.


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