Wicked Local: Rep. Seth Moulton No Longer a Freshman

January 3rd, 2017

By: William J. Dowd

Congressman Seth Moulton is no longer a freshman member of Congress.

The Salem Democrat was sworn in for his second term Tuesday, nearly two months after 6th District voters reelected him — uncontested – in the Nov. 8 election to represent them in the 115th Congress.

“Serving the Sixth District is one of the great honors of my life,” said Moulton in a statement Tuesday evening. “Our region has so much to offer, and our state is a leader in finding innovative solutions to national challenges.”

Moulton begin his day lambasting Republicans over a 119-74 vote – taken in a closed-door meeting the night of Jan. 2 – that would have watered down the power of the House Ethics Commission, an independent body that investigates potential transgressions by House members.

“Is there any American out there who thinks Congress is too ethical?” Moulton rhetorically asked the CNN anchor who interviewed him just before 7 a.m.

He said he felt the vote was quite ironic, given some conservative lawmakers’ embrace of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “drain the swamp.” Later in the day, Republicans reversed course on any changes after, in part, they received a Trump scolding.

Moulton enters his sophomore term at a time when 17 percent of Americans view Congress’ job performance in a favorable light, according to a Dec. 15 Gallup poll. Even with that unfavorable statistic and his being in the minority party, Moulton managed to pass his Essex River Dredging and Faster Care for Veterans bills in a gridlocked, Republican-controlled Congress last session – a feat that required him to cross the aisle.

In mid-December, President Barack Obama signed the latter bill into law, which now directs the Department of Veterans Affairs with implementing a pilot program that allows veterans to self-schedule appointments from their computers or from cell phone applications.

Over the past two years, Moulton introduced 10 bills – three of which passed the House, with two being subsequently signed into law – and cosponsored over 270 bills. Problems the bills sought to solve ran the gamut from a proposal to modernize the way members of Congress and legislative staff travel to improving the talent of health care providers in VA hospitals.

Moulton, a Marblehead native, kicked off his second term performing community service Tuesday morning, just as he did when he began his first term in January 2015. This time around, the decorated U.S. Marine captain, who served four tours in the Iraq War over five years, performed community service at the Capital Area Food Bank alongside his staff and constituents.

Leading up to the new session, Moulton was among the voices that championed a delay vote for selecting leaders among Democrats in the session until after Thanksgiving. He said he believed Democrats needed to assess their leadership and strategy to win victories in the coming years. His call came in the aftermath of a bruising election cycle that left the party stunned, in part, when Trump won the Electoral College vote in the 2016 presidential election.

“We need to do a lot of work, because clearly the status quo isn’t working, and the idea that we can just go forward with the same plan, the same strategy, the same message and the same messengers, and suddenly start winning again in 2018 or 2020, I think is dead wrong,” Moulton said during a forum in December.

In the end, he voted against what he pegged as the “status quo” — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. Moulton and Congressman Stephen Lynch, D-South Boston. joined 63 fellow Democrats in backing Congressman Tim Ryan from Ohio over Pelosi.

However, Pelosi retained her position as House Minority Leader.

Democrats have not held a majority in the House since 2011. In the 115th Congress, Moulton is one of 194 Democrats in the House compared to the Republicans’ 241.

“We have more work to do,” said Moulton, “and I pledge to continue to work with both Republicans and Democrats to ensure Massachusetts remains at the forefront of progress and opportunity.”

Moulton capped the day hosting a public open house and reception in his Washington, D.C. office.

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