Congress has much work to do

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin?Cramer were sworn in Thursday as North Dakota’s newest members of Congress, as lawmakers convened in Washington to begin work as the 113th Congress.

We wish them much luck. They have a lot of work ahead of them.

Heitkamp, a Democrat, joins the Senate after defeating Rick Berg in a nasty campaign full of accusations, rhetoric and partisan sniping, to put it mildly. Cramer, a Republican, took a different path to office, bypassing the Republican Party’s convention and taking his campaign straight to the ballot in November. It worked.

Now both North Dakotans face the challenge of living up to their campaign promises, notably avoiding partisan politics in what is already shaping up as a sharply divided Congress. It won’t be easy. It’s one thing to make bold statements about standing up for North Dakota’s best interests while on the campaign trail, it’s quite another thing to actually accomplish that in Washington, D.C.

There is much work to be done by both Heitkamp and Cramer in focusing on North Dakota’s needs. The state continues to be a major player in agriculture markets, exporting goods all around the country and the world. The state has quickly become the second-leading oil producer in the nation, bringing a boom in population and jobs but also creating a housing crunch and putting extreme stress on state and local infrastructure. Meanwhile, Minot and other cities continue to press for federal funding and other forms of aid to help residents and cities alike recover from the flood of 2011. There are also countless national concerns facing all members of Congress, especially the ongoing political battle over the “fiscal cliff” negotiations and budget deficit.

During the long campaign, Heitkamp and Cramer both promised to be part of the solution in solving the political gridlock in Washington. Now, they have that chance.