Barletta, Marino take oaths again
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Rejoining the House on Thursday were the region's re-elected congressmen, Reps. Lou Barletta, R-11, and Tom Marino, R-10.
Barletta stood in his office as his wife, Mary Grace, fastened his congressional pin on his lapel.
"It'll never be old hat, but I don't think there will ever be anything that will replicate what it was like the first time," he said. "That was an experience I'll never forget. It was surreal. It really was. ... There was a little anxiety along with the excitement of the day and having my family here and some of those supporters who were here to share that experience. Today, it's more a feeling of honor and privilege that people send you here to do this. ... I think the day I lose that feeling, I shouldn't be here. Anybody that takes this for
granted or feels that they are bigger than this, they shouldn't be here."
Barletta and Marino said they never hesitated in voting again for John Boehner as speaker. Boehner won the job overwhelmingly, but several arch-conservative members unhappy with him for various reasons nominated others, including Allen West, the former Florida congressman who lost his re-election bid.
Both said Boehner has opened up the process within the Republican caucus.
Barletta dismissed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's view of Boehner as a dictator.
"He never tries to silence anyone from speaking, allows open criticism of himself or leadership and always responds in a very respectful way as you have a right to your opinion," he said.
"It's really opened up to where rank-and-file have much more to say," said Marino.
Marino took a low-key approach to the day, standing at the back of the chamber during ceremonial swearing-in ceremonies of other lawmakers. Marino said his mind was focused this time on issues and things he has to get done rather than ceremony.
"Certainly, the excitement was not there that was there my first time. But still I'm sitting there thinking I have to represent the people of Pennsylvania," he said. "I was watching the new members, how exciting it was for their members and their families. I leaned over to my colleagues and said, 'Guys, were we this pumped up and excited about what was going on two years ago. I said, 'Yeah, we probably were.'"
In the Senate, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey was sworn in for a second term, first on the Senate floor by Vice President Joseph Biden, then in a private ceremony with the vice president. Biden later visited Casey's reception at the Dirksen Senate Office Building and spoke in his usual glowing way about Scranton, where he spent the first 10 years of his life.
In an interview afterward, Casey said the celebration was tempered by the knowledge that the nation still faces tremendous financial and other issues.
"The next three months will be very tough and the next couple of years will be tough," he said.
As for his second swearing-in, Casey said the moment of taking the oath remains "very, very powerful" and "emotional."
"When you take that oath and sign that book (attesting to the oath in writing), you feel a tremendous sense of gratitude that you have the chance to serve in that position," Casey said. "I just can't believe six years went by."