WASHINGTON (CN) - Two incoming freshmen Republican House members say the biggest priority for the next Congress will be implementing the fiscal reforms that they promised in campaigns leading up to midterm elections.
"Fiscal issues took front and center the entire campaign and are the reason that I ran," Representative-elect Mick Mulvaney said in a televised interview. Mulvaney is replacing House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., and will be the first Republican to represent South Carolina's 5th district since 1883.
In November's midterm elections, Democrats lost 63 seats in the House to Republicans, making the chamber 242 Republicans to 193 Democrats. Before the election, Democrats held 255 seats in the House to Republicans' 179 seats.
"Now, it's incumbent on us to walk the talk," Representative-elect Bill Huizenga said in a televised interview. "If we don't, the American people are going to send a big message to us again and we are going to pay that price politically."
Huizenga will represent the 2nd district of Michigan, a seat previously held by Rep. Pete Hoekstra, D-Mich., who left to run for governor of Michigan.
The newly elected representatives said the biggest priority will be pursuing fiscal responsibility.
"If we do not get this debt beast under control, its going to eat us alive," Huizenga said.
"We've got to make sure that our talk matches our walk," he said. "Unfortunately, we can't always look at our constituents square in the eye and say we're using every dime that you're giving us to its highest and best use in the most efficient manner."
Huizenga suggested that lawmakers first identify programs that are working and are constitutionally mandated, and then "defund those other things that either aren't working well or we shouldn't be doing."
Mulvaney said the government could save $40 million to $50 billion by requiring two government employees to drop out of the system before hiring a new one.
"The states have made the difficult decisions - some of them have," Mulvaney said. "The federal government has to make the same decision."
He did not suggest any ideas for reforming entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, which account for a large part of the government's budget.
Huizenga was asked to serve on the House Financial Services Committee, and says he is excited about the opportunity because of his small business background. Huizenga is third-generation owner of a gravel company.
"Literally half an hour ago I was standing in my gravel pit with a couple of my employees and my business partner who is my cousin," Huizenga said. "So that's sort of my heart. It's an amazing intersection when you start talking about passing things legislatively, whether it's at the state level as I've done in the past or at the federal level, and then having to live with the effects of that as a small business owner."
For his committee assignment, Huizenga says he has been "digging through mountains of information," as well as traveling to banks, credit unions and investment firms to study the impact of new regulations under the Wall Street Reform Act passed this year.
"First and foremost, I'm going to be in a learning mode," Huizenga said.
Mulvaney was asked to serve on the House Budget Committee, but did not have any recommendations yet, saying he has not gotten "any of the good stuff yet," referring to policy information he will receive after being sworn in.
"We're still trying to find our way and get a handle on things like the size of the deficit," Mulvaney said. "It's still very early in the learning process."
Mulvaney and Huizenga will be sworn in along with all newly elected and reelected House members on Jan. 5.