Nov 15, 2014 10:26 AM
Paul Steinhauser: Guinta says Republicans need to govern rather than shutting down govt
NH1 Political Director - NH1.com
WASHINGTON, DC - As Frank Guinta returns to the nation's capital for his second act on Capitol Hill, bipartisanship is a word he's frequently using.
And the GOP representative-elect from New Hampshire's 1st congressional district doesn't appear to agree with some conservative House Republicans who say they're ready to shut down the federal government to stop President Barack Obama from carrying out an executive order on immigration that they see as unconstitutional.
Guinta was back in Washington this week for orientation. The former congressman won his old job back last week, defeating Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. In an interview with NH1 Friday on the House side of Capitol Hill, Guinta said he hopes the President doesn't take executive action on immigration during the lame duck session.
"I think it would send a wrong message to the incoming Congress and to the United States of America, the people who just voted about a week ago. So what I'd like to see is a group of bipartisan House and Senate members get together, find a bill that works for the House and the Senate, that the President is willing to work with us on, so determined by the regular order of process that would start in January, and that's what I hope we can accomplish," Guinta said.
Obama's pledged to use his executive powers before the end of the year to make changes in the immigration system which reportedly could potentially shield up to 6 million undocumented workers from facing deportation.
Asked about the growing calls from conservative lawmakers to block funding to government agencies that would carry out the President's orders on limiting deportations, Guinta said "I don't think that's going to be a centerpiece of Republicans' approach. We need to govern. We need to make sure we get a tax bill on the floor that can grow our economy, grow job opportunity. We need to get a balanced budget, we need to fix Obamacare, so I suspect that we'll be focused on public policy and issues that people sent us here to address in this past election."
The interview took place as the House approved the controversial Keystone X-L Pipeline, which would transport Canadian oil south to U.S. refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. The GOP dominated chamber passed the bill 252 to 161. Thirty one Democrats crossed party lines and voted in favor of the pipeline.
But Shea-Porter voted against the pipeline, saying fast tracking the project could leave taxpayers on the hook for an oil spill cleanup. Guinta supports Keystone, saying it will start "the process of greater production here in the United States which can continue to reduce costs for gas and oil."
Throughout the interview, Guinta repeated the theme of bipartisanship. On Obamacare, which he has opposed, the former and future congressman said when it comes to making changes to the Affordable Care Act, "there's a lot that we can do bipartisanly in the House of Representatives. I've talked to the New England delegation members already who are interested in working on some bipartisan approaches to fixing Obamacare."
New Hampshire residents get their second chance to sign up for health insurance under Obamacare starting Saturday. The second enrollment season for Healthcare.gov runs through February 15. This time around Granite Staters will see increased marketplace insurance options.
But Guinta isn't satisfied with the increased choices, saying "you need true free-market competition, not what seems to be happening under the exchange, which is certain carriers in certain parts of the state. We need dozens of carriers offering plans through the entire state of New Hampshire."
Guinta, a former mayor of Manchester, defeated Shea-Porter in 2010, ousting her from Congress. She returned the favor in 2012, but in last week's three-peat showdown, he won for a second time. Guinta will be sworn into the House in early January. He told NH1 what will be his top priorities.
"I'd like to get back to regular order, have a budget in place, really focus on tax reform so we can get economic growth in the country. We'll certainly work on the Affordable Care Act. We'll work on energy solutions for the country. We've got a lot to do that we're going to hopefully accomplish in that first six week period. But that first six weeks and then the first 100 days will be critical in what we can pass in the House and try to get over to the Senate. So we'll be busy," Guinta said.
Staying neutral in State House Speaker showdown
Guinta, who once served in the State House in Concord, didn't want to take sides in what's shaping up to be an intra-party battle. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, the other Republican member of New Hampshire's congressional delegation, was one of the signers of a letter supporting Gene Chandler rather than the more conservative Bill O'Brien for speaker of the state House of Representatives, which was first reported by the New Hampshire Journal's John DiStaso. O'Brien served as speaker from 2010 to 2012, when the GOP lost control of the chamber. Republicans won back the state House in last week's elections.
But Guinta's staying neutral, saying "I know both candidates and what I hope is that the state representatives elect the leader that they think is most capable of leading as the Speaker of the House, who's going to be focused and productive on solutions to the state of New Hampshire."
"I served as a state representative years ago in the state of New Hampshire and I trust the people of the House of Representatives to make the decision as they see fit for their body," Guinta added.
Guinta excited about 2016
With the 2014 midterms in the rear view mirror, the 2016 race for the White House gets underway. And with a wide open contest with potentially a dozen candidates in the battle for the GOP nomination, the first-in-the-nation primary state should see a lot of candidate traffic. Guinta doesn't have any early favorites.
"I think we're going to have a whole host of fantastic candidates who are going to bring ideas and solutions to the country that are desperately hoping for real leadership. And the unique part about New Hampshire is that we'll get to see all of these candidates in our kitchens and living rooms, which we demand, expect. And we will choose, in my belief, the next president of the United States."
And Guinta's just as enthusiastic as this reporter about the prospect of the start of the 2016, saying "I'm excited about it. I want to see the full slate of candidates just like every other voter in the state of New Hampshire and just like everybody right now I'm undecided on who I think the next president should be."