Congressmen Bill Enyart, D-Belleville, and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, were officially sworn in to the 113th Congress by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday morning in Washington, D.C.
On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Enyart and Davis joined their new colleagues in an en masse oath of office.
Enyart, who won the 12th U.S. House District seat last month, said a strong spirit of bipartisanship and camaraderie reigned over the freshman class of congressman.
"I'm very cautiously optimistic that we'll see that trend continue," said Enyart, a Belleville lawyer and former commander of the Illinois National Guard.
The 12th District covers a dozen counties from Alton, in the north, to Cairo, in the state's southern tip. Former U.S. Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Belleville, had represented the district since 1988.
Davis, the winner of the 13th House District race, agreed that the spirit of bipartisanship is reigning over the chamber.
The 13th House District runs eastward from Madison County, covering Edwardsville, Maryville and Collinsville, and 13 other counties. Davis replaces Tim Johnson, R-Champaign, who had represented the district for 11 years.
Soon after their swearing-in Thursday, both Enyart and Davis were voting on rules governing the 113th Congress
After much rancor and debate, the Republican-led House on New Year's Day passed a U.S. Senate bill, endorsed by President Barack Obama, that raised taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, averting the so-called fiscal cliff.
While the smoke clears from that controversy, "I haven't seen any rancor, let's put it that way," Enyart said.
Even so, Capitol Hill observers are predicting that more bitter battles lie ahead for the deeply divided U.S. Congress, which must deal with the sequester -- a set of automatic, 10 percent spending cuts from most federal programs -- and the question of whether to raise the nation's debt ceiling.
"What I don't want to see is a so-called compromise like the fiscal cliff, which increases the national debt by $4 trillion over the next 10 years," Davis said. "That's not a solution, that's not a compromise."
For his part, Enyart said any fiscal considerations must be approached carefully.
"It didn't happen overnight. It's been building for 10 years or so," he said. "I think it's going to take a gradual approach to get it fixed."
Enyart said it's too early to tell what impact cuts in defense spending would have on Scott Air Force Base, in Mascoutah, which, with 13,000 civilian and military workers, is the metro-east's biggest employer.
"We're going to work on this fiscal situation and then, as that gets closer to being resolved, we'll have a better idea on what the defense budget is going to look like," he said.
Contact reporter Mike Fitzgerald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2533.