Rokita looks for progress with unified Congress
He never used the word "mandate," but it was clear on Friday that Congressman Todd Rokita felt empowered by the results of the midterm elections.
During a brief stop at Almost Home Restaurant in Greencastle, he cited the results from Tuesday: Rokita took 67 percent of the District 4 vote, with other Republican Congressmen from Indiana posting similar numbers. Republicans picked up 13 seats in the House of Representatives, adding to their majority. The Senate also swung to Republican control, with the party gaining seven seats.
Rokita, who spent Friday touring District 4 in a sort of thank you tour, said he had heard a lot of things from voters over the course of the day.
"Some people are saying compromise, just get something done," Rokita said. While he didn't dismiss the idea out of hand, the congressman asked who should be yielding in this compromise.
"Now the national media says we need to compromise. Shouldn't it be on him (President Barack Obama)?" Rokita asked, pointing out the gains his party made in Congress. "I think the major difference between Monday (before the election) and today is we're going to be able to put things on his desk."
Rokita was alluding to previous sessions of Congress, in which Democrats had control of the Senate. He mentioned hundreds of house bills "sitting in (Senate Majority Leader) Harry Reid's inbox."
And so, even with a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democrat in the White House, Rokita said he is cautiously optimistic about things being accomplished in Washington in the next two years, more than once calling on his party to be bold.
"When I say bold, I mean we've got to be smart in what we put forward," Rokita said.
Staying true to his conservative ideals, Rokita also warned against considering new laws to be action.
"If you judge Congress by the number of laws we create, then we're doomed," he said.
The congressman's main action on Friday, though, was to stay in touch with what Hoosiers in his district are saying.
"(This visit is) just to say thank you, to congratulate people on their races and just get marching orders," Rokita said.
A number of subjects were on the small crowd of locals' minds Friday -- health care, corporate tax reform, education, immigration. The effects that Washington can have on local lawmakers was also clear, as Putnam County Councilmen Keith Berry and Phil Gick had a number of questions for Rokita.
While Rokita clearly remains unhappy with some of what goes on in Washington, his rhetoric was largely positive on Friday, presented with the energy fitting a man who just won his district by 2-to-1 margin.
"The American people are awake and awakening," Rokita said. "I think if we're bold, we can show the American people a distinct choice in 2016."