WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative-elect Blake Moore joined the freshman class of the 117th Congress this week for orientation activities here jokingly referred to “Congress 101.”.
“It’s an exciting time for an incoming congressman,” according to Chase Christiansen, a spokesman for Moore’s newly organized 1st Congressional District staff.
The first wave of congressional newcomers – 50 Republicans and 18 Democrats – were welcomed to the Nov. 14 to 21 orientation session by Rep. Rodney Davis (D-Illinois), the ranking member of the House Administration Committee. As a sign of the times, the fledgling lawmakers, wearing identifying lanyards and face coverings, gathered in a Capitol auditorium with widely spaced seats taped off to ensure social distancing.
Much of the information presented to Moore and other Capitol newcomers this past week was strictly routine, including training on office budgets, personnel regulations, travel limitations, ethical guidelines and security concerns.
But the atmosphere in which that instruction was delivered was anything but usual.
During a recent broadcast on radio station KVNU’s “For the People” program, Dr. Mike Lyons, a political science professor at Utah State University, argued that the recent Nov. 3 balloting “ … was not a good election for the Democratic Party.”
“Joe Biden won the presidency …” Lyons observed. “Otherwise, the Democrats lost the election. They lost seats in the U.S. House (of Representatives). They also failed to pick up seats in the U.S. Senate that were within reach …”
That leaves Republicans in the Senate with the power to block what they see as a ominously progressive legislative agenda, while the Democrats’ control of the U.S. House of Representatives now rests on a razor-thin margin.
Following the Nov. 3 balloting, the House now seats 219 Democrats and 204 Republicans, with races in 12 congressional districts nationwide still too close to call. A party must hold at least 218 seats to control the lower House of Congress.
Of particular interest to freshman members of Congress like Moore, Lyons emphasized that “… Democrats also failed to win control of any state legislatures anywhere in the country. That means that Republicans are going to be drawing up the boundaries of most congressional districts for the next decade. That’s going to put the Democratic Party at a real disadvantage.”
When Moore assumes the Congressional District 1 seat being vacated by Rep. Rob Bishop, he will also be joining a politically reunited Utah congressional delegation.
Moore’s freshman class in Congress now includes former NFL player and author Burgess Owens, fresh from a narrow GOP victory over incumbent Democrat Rep. Ben McAdams in the hotly contested race for Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
Utah’s incumbent House members – Rep. Chris Stewart in the 2nd District and Rep. John Curtis in the 3rd District – were reelected Nov. 3 in races like Moore’s that were never really in doubt.
With GOP senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney in the upper house of Congress, Utah’s entire state delegation is now solidly in Republican hands for the first time in two years. That will give more Moore strong allies with mutual interests when working to fulfill campaign promises like protecting Hill Air Force Base and resolving Utah’s public lands dilemma.
Moore is set to assume his new duties on Jan. 3. In the meantime, Christiansen said the representative-elect is taking advantage of Congress’ recess for the Thanksgiving holiday to vacation with his family.