Berg Settles in to New Role as RespresentativeFor the first time since 1993, the people of North Dakota have a pair of new representatives in the nation's capitol. WDAZ's Charley Johnson spent most of a day each with Berg and Hoeven, and also had some time with Senator Kent Conrad.
By: Charley Johnson, WDAZ
This is the first part of our three-part series The Changing Faces of North Dakota Politics. You can see the next installments Wednesday and Thursday on WDAZ News at 10
For the first time since 1993, the people of North Dakota have a pair of new representatives in the nation's capitol.
Republican Governor John Hoeven was elected to the US Senate to replace retiring Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan, and Republican State House veteran Rick Berg ousted nine-term incumbent Congressman Earl Pomeroy.
WDAZ's Charley Johnson spent most of a day each with Berg and Hoeven, and also had some time with Senator Kent Conrad, who announced last month that he will not seek re-election in 2012, virtually guaranteeing that the state will elect another fresh face to the Senate in the next election.
For the start of the three day-long series, we focus on Representative Rick Berg.
"I feel a tremendously humbling sense of history when I think about all the people who have marched up to the floor of the House and had to make really difficult decisions for our country, and they made 'em, they made the right ones. So it kind of gives you strength," Berg said as he walked up the Capitol steps.
You can forgive a new Congressman being a little in awe of his new surroundings as he contemplates those who have gone before. But Rick Berg is very much a realist about the job facing the 112th Congress of the United States.
North Dakota's new Congressman says he knew the country had fiscal problems before he ran for office, but now that he's here, he says it's worse than he thought.
"We're in a real difficult period and we have to control spending to get America back on track. My first take out here is that it's worse than I thought," Berg said.
Berg hasn't changed his tune on how to fix the nation's woes. He believes keeping a lid on taxes and taking an axe to spending is the way to eliminate the annual budget deficit and cut into the nation's $14 trillion, and growing, national debt.
"So what has to happen here is the same thing we've learned in North Dakota: we have to demonstrate to America that we can control the spending and we can get thinks back on track. I think then we'll move forward," Berg said.
Berg and North Dakota's new Senator John Hoeven rode into office on a Republican wave, but while Berg's party controls the House, Democrats still have the Senate and the White House. Is compromise possible?
"You have to have agreement from these different parties. We have to have agreement within the House, and have to have it with the Senate and the President. That's the one thing I know about the legislative process-- you can't predict what's gonna happen, next week or next month," Berg said.
Berg landed a seat on the important, tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, so he'll be at the table when the House talks about taxes and spending.
Berg is also a member of the Social Security subcommittee.
"There's so much misinformation out there on Social Security, so I'm really looking forward to digging into that. I'm committed to honoring the commitment and promise we've made to honoring our seniors. So I'm open to all the ideas that are out there," Berg said.
Fixing the country's financial woes is high on everyone's list, it seems, but finding solutions that each party and the American People will accept is the big challenge.
Tomorrow night at ten, we'll tag along with Senator Hoeven as he navigates the corridors of power in Washington. We'll find out that having been a governor for ten years gives Hoeven an advantage, and even a little seniority, over other first-term Senators.