“Humbled and honored” to serve the district, Richard Hudson was sworn into the 113th Congress on Thursday.
Hudson, a Republican, defeated 8th District incumbent Larry Kissell in November campaigning on a return to fiscal responsibility and conservative principles.
At the conclusion of the swearing in ceremony, House Speaker John Boehner addressed Hudson and the 80-plus new members of Congress, reminding them of their duty to the American people.
“That was my favorite part of his speech,” Hudson said. “(Boehner said) that if you ran for Congress to be somebody, that you were in the wrong place. But he said if you were here to do something, then get ready.
“I really did feel that sense of having been sent here by the people of North Carolina.”
A former congressional staffer, Hudson said that his Capitol Hill experience is already giving him an advantage.
“I have started working those (previously established) relationships,” said Hudson, having already spoken with the chair of the transportation committee about the completion of I-73 and the Monroe Bypass.
Those existing relationships and Hudson’s status as a Washington veteran have also resulted in his selection to the Congressional steering committee and to a subcommittee chairmanship on the Homeland Security Committee. Hudson will also serve on the House Agriculture Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee.
Even before being sworn in Hudson found good luck in organizing his office. With office location determined by a lottery among congressmen, Hudson said that he would have needed to draw a number in the first 19 of the lottery to make certain he would have his top choice of office building.
“There were 19 offices in (the Cannon House Office Building), so we had to draw 19 or lower … and we ended up drawing 19,” Hudson said.
Hudson was joined in a reception by 80 people bused to Washington from his district.
“We had Cheerwine, Krispy Kreme and Sundrop,” Hudson said.
Confident in his staff selection, Hudson anticipates “no lag in service to our constituents” during the transition period. Hudson’s new staff includes one holdover from Kissell’s term in the casework office.
“I was really pleased with the staff we were able to attract,” said the former congressional chief of staff of the team he announced late last month.
While Hudson voted in favor of allowing Boehner to continue to serve as Speaker – a vote which Boehner won with 220 out of 426 votes cast – the first year Congressman did say that he thought Boehner could have better handled the recent fiscal cliff conundrum.
“I think he could have done better, and I put part of the blame on conservatives in the caucus,” said Hudson, leaving his harshest criticism for President Barack Obama and the Senate.
“President Obama doesn’t want to cut any spending except defense spending and the Senate shirked its responsibility … as the House continued to try and solve problems and replace sequestration with reasonable cuts. The President’s solution is to increase spending and increase taxes to pay for it.”
Saying that he felt Republican leadership missed an opportunity to force spending cuts, Hudson suggested that Congressional conservatives define their own “lines in the sand” on fiscal matters to grant Boehner bargaining leverage with the President.
“(If) we go to the Speaker and say ‘If you want these 80 or 100 votes, this is our line in the sand,’ then that gives (Speaker Boehner) leverage to go back to the President and say ‘I can’t get the votes for a deal unless these items are part of it.’”
Asked if cuts to defense spending should be one of those points on which conservatives will not compromise, Hudson said that defense spending can be cut, but in a more careful manner than has been done recently.
“We need to take a scalpel, not a hatchet to the defense budget,” Hudson said.
Hudson also advocated for an audit of the Pentagon, where he says there are savings to be found.
Among the initiatives around which Hudson believes conservatives can unite is a balanced budget amendment.
“That is a great example of something conservatives can decide to come together on and say ‘If you want to raise the debt ceiling, a balanced budget amendment needs to be part of the package.’”
In the coming weeks Hudson will work to find others in agreement on such an amendment, including representatives on the other side of the isle.
Hurricane Sandy relief
After the last minute fiscal cliff deal was approved by the House, the 112th congress closed without a vote on supplemental aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
That decision was criticized on the floor of the House following the January 1 fiscal cliff deal by a number of Representatives, most of them from states affected by the storm.
Representing a coastal state, Hudson said that he was told that a number of House members were unable to read the entire bill and did not want to vote on it for fear that it contained unnecessary spending.
“I have a lot of concerns with the (aid package) because in the past there has been a whole lot of pork (in similar bills). I won’t support a huge boondoggle spending bill,” Hudson said.
Much of the federal relief headed to Hurricane Sandy victims is on hold pending a vote by the House on the bill. The House is expected to take up the bill on Friday.
Return to Scotland County
Hudson will return to Scotland County next Wednesday for a “Coffee and Conversation” event at Richmond Community College’s F. Diane Honeycutt Center. The meet and greet style gathering is sponsored by the Scotland County/Laurinburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
“As I said back in November, the only campaign promise I made was that if you elect me, you will see a lot of me.”
Hudson expects to use the event as an opportunity to talk about issues important to the community.
“Being accessible is a critical part of how I plan to work.”
Following his Nov. 6 victory, Hudson’s first stop was to a meeting of the Scotland County Farm Bureau in Laurinburg.