NORFOLK, Va. - Scott Taylor took office on Tuesday afternoon as the Congressman representing the second congressional district.
The former Navy SEAL and state delegate defeated Randy Forbes in the primary and Shaun Brown in the general election.
"It's exciting. It's not something I take lightly," Taylor said in a Skype interview ahead of the swearing-in ceremony. "The folks back home put that responsibility on my shoulders and I will not let them down."
As Taylor takes office, a political controversy is already taking shape in Congress. House Republicans, including Taylor, supported renaming the Office of Congressional Ethics to the Office of Congressional Complaint Review on Monday night. Lawmakers from the House Ethics Committee would've overseen the office, but on Tuesday Republicans dropped the proposal for now.
Democrats complained the idea would weaken the office. Members on both sides have said investigations are sometimes based on groups with political motives, according to CNN. Taylor said those investigations require members to spend thousands to defend themselves and often times they're exonerated. "I'm confident that a bipartisan ethics panel will do their job the way they're supposed to hold members accountable," Taylor said. "I really don't care about the optics and how Democrats are trying to make it sound."
President-elect Donald Trump posted on Twitter on Tuesday morning, questioning the move.
House Speaker Paul Ryan urged members to vote against Rep. Bob Goodlatte's proposal, but Ryan later said ethics oversight won't be weakened.
"I want to make clear that this House will hold its members to the highest ethical standards and the Office will continue to operate independently to provide public accountability to Congress. The Office will continue to be governed by a bipartisan independent outside board with ultimate decision-making authority,” Ryan said.
With his aim to work with both sides, Taylor also says he'll be focused on protecting the area from cuts to the military when he takes office. "That's something that I'm dogged about and I'm going to be working really hard to deal with," he said.
The swearing-in ceremony started at noon on Tuesday. "We're at a pivotal time in our history," Taylor said. "[Republicans] have the House, the Senate, and the presidency, so hopefully we don't overplay it, but I think we have no excuse to not get things done."