In the News
Panama City News Herald
Jan 03 2017
As the 115th Congress was sworn in Tuesday, Bay County was once again represented, with Rep. Neal Dunn taking his oath of office for the official start of his two-year term.
“It’s an honor,” Dunn said in a telephone interview with The News Herald. “It’s a humbling experience. There’s such a sense of history just to stand on the floor of the House.”
Dunn’s Washington tenure technically began Monday with “lots of organization” and some debate, but it won’t be long before representatives go from the frying pan into the fire, as House Speaker Paul Ryan has set forth an “unprecedented” schedule for their next 100 days, keeping them in session for what amounts to about the next 13 out of 14 weeks.
“We came up here to work, not play,” Dunn said.
Fresh off their “intense” three-week orientation, Dunn said the congressional freshman class is eager to start. Like orientation at college or university, the crop of first-year representatives was given a tour around the Capitol and taught everything from how to cast a vote to how to craft and submit legislation that eventually will govern the country. They even choose their own class officers. And though they don’t quite have the clout of the senior members, Dunn said the newer class is just as dedicated to fulfilling campaign promises and shouldn’t be counted out.
“While we may not have seniority or committee chairs, we have the same vote as everybody,” he said.
Dunn said members on both sides of the aisle have been “extremely generous” with their time so far, and he plans to be “fully engaged” in enacting change.
My wife “Leah and I are both very humbled to be here,” he said. “We take it very seriously.”
The incoming Congress is set to be the most diverse in history with a record number of women and non-white members. Seven new senators and 52 new representatives, including Dunn and Matt Gaetz for the First Congressional District, will cut their teeth in the Republican-led chambers.