Ann Marie Buerkle exits congressional stage, still a freshman

Ann Marie Buerkle arrived in Washington two years ago as a freshman member of Congress — and in January, she will leave, still a freshman.

The New York Republican, the first woman to hold her seat, lost in November after drawing the short straw in her state’s redistricting.

She leaves with “mixed feelings,” she told The Daily Caller in a phone interview, both sadness and excitement for whatever might come next.

“This was truly one of the greatest honors,” she said of her two years in office.

The past month has been a bit different from the previous 23 months she served in Congress. Though the daily committee work and votes continue, she has been moved out of her office and into temporary cubicles set up in the cafeteria in the Rayburn, House Office Building. She now works mostly out of her apartment, which is near enough to the Capitol to commute back and forth.

Other than that, she is spending her final weeks “making sure the district office takes care of any constituent issues” and fulfilling her committee duties. A bill “near and dear to [her] heart” passed the Senate last week: It names a post office in her district after a Marine who was killed serving in Afghanistan.

She has also been working to find her staffers new jobs.

Last week was a busy week for other reasons, as negotiations continued between President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner to reach a deal to avert the fiscal cliff. The House saw a lot of activity as Boehner tried, and failed, to pass his “Plan B,” a back-up plan in case negotiations didn’t go well, which would have raised taxes on those making over $1 million a year.

The plan collapsed when Boehner realized he lacked the votes within his own caucus to pass a bill, a bill that House Democrats had vowed to vote against. Boehner opted to not even bring it to a vote.

Buerkle was one Republican who would have voted “no” on Plan B.

“Leadership knew my concerns with regards to that ‘Plan B,'” she said. “My concern was that it was going to go over to the Senate and they weren’t going to vote on it, they weren’t going to take it up, and if they did, it would come back with much lower rates,” and without dealing with spending cuts.

She faults President Obama and the Democratic Senate for a lack of action, but more importantly, a lack of “will to make those cuts” she believes are necessary.

One person she does not fault is Speaker Boehner.