Thomas A. Marino officially now can be called a congressman.
The Cogan Station resident and Williamsport native was sworn in Wednesday along with other House members as part of the 112th Congress.
Marino, a Republican, defeated two-term Democrat Chris Carney, of Dimock, to secure the 10th Congressional seat in the November election.
U.S. Rep. Thomas A. Marino, R-Cogan Station, is sworn in as a member of the 112th Congress by House Speaker John Boehner, of Ohio, right. Marino’s wife, Edie, holds the Bible while their son, Victor, looks on at Capitol Hill in Washington.
Shortly after taking the oath of office, he vowed to follow up on his promises to help cut spending and repeal the federal health care bill.
"We just cannot continue to spend the way we have," he said.
Marino defended his decision to accept the government-issued health insurance available to members of Congress.
State Democrats criticized Marino and fellow freshman Congressman Lou Barletta, of Hazleton, who they say railed against the same health insurance during their campaigns while pledging to deny it to constituents.
"If someone thinks I'm foolish enough not to provide health insurance for myself," he said. "This is not free health insurance. I have to pay for it."
He maintained that fighting to help repeal health care reform will not end up costing more money than enacting the legislation as is argued by the bill's proponents.
"I don't agree with that," he said. "It's already cost a lot more than this administration perceived. A large portion doesn't even kick in yet."
U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Howard, agreed.
"It's going to save tremendous amounts of money to repeal and replace the Obamacare plan," he said.
Thompson, starting his second term of office representing the 5th Congressional District, was among the House members sworn in.
While an advocate of portions of the health care bill, such as the provision preventing people with pre-existing conditions from being denied coverage, he argued that there exist better ways to enact them.
He took issue with statements that Congressional members receive free insurance.
"That just shows you how uninformed they are. I pay for mine," he said.
In fact, Thompson claimed his government health insurance costs him more than what he paid for coverage when he worked for Susquehanna Health.
Members of Congress, while eligible to choose from among a plethora of health care options under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, most of which do not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and include prescription drug coverage, do pay some out-of-pocket expenses.
Looking ahead, Thompson said job creation remains the No. 1 priority.
Repealing health care reform and stopping out-of-control spending also must be addressed.
He said the new Congress took a big step already in working together and restoring ethics and credibility to government.
The procedural vote brings more transparency to legislation that too often was not the case under former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said.
He noted the push by lawmakers to reduce spending by all congressional offices and committees by 5 percent.