The Marietta Republican, 60, was elected in November to the redrawn district that includes Floyd, Chattooga and Polk counties and all or part of 14 others.
While Gingrey was in his Marietta campaign office much of last week, the process of moving into his Washington office already had started.
“My staff will be there in force Monday, but a lot of the moving in will happen over this weekend,” Gingrey said.
In addition, the Gingrey's — his wife Billie and youngest daughter Laura will move to Washington with him — still are looking for a house or apartment near Capitol Hill.
But as he got ready for the move, the new congressman answered the question that is on the mind of everyone in the 11th District: Gingrey, who underwent bypass surgery Dec. 13, said he is feeling well.
“I’m not driving yet, but I’m walking a lot and getting into the pool at the health spa,” he said. “I’m still a little stiff and sore, but I’ve been back to my cardiologist and everything looks great.
“I will have to be diligent about my diet and exercise, but by the time I get sworn in, I should be back to 85 or 90 percent. I won’t have any limitations as far as my congressional duties go — there’s not a lot of heavy lifting in this job.”
Gingrey’s new office is on the first floor of the Longworth Office Building, a space once occupied by Georgia Republican Mac Collins.
“It’s a very good space. Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) was in it during the last Congress, but she elected to move to the Rayburn Office Building,” he said. “The House offices are assigned by lottery, and out of 53 freshmen congressmen, I had the 12th pick.”
Looking beyond the logistics of unpacking the boxes and assembling a staff, Gingrey said the new Congress will have a full agenda once it convenes, with security issues and the war on terror at the head of the list.
“As a freshman member of Congress, I don’t think I will be at odds or have better ideas than the administration,” he said. “I’m very supportive of what has been done so far, and if the president says we need to go to war, I have enough confidence that the case has been made and will support that decision.”
Gingrey, a medical doctor, also expects health care and health insurance to be a major issue.
“Health care will be hugely important in this congress,” he said. “We need to try to find enough money to fund a prescription drug benefit for senior citizens and revamp the Medicare system. I don’t think hospitals and primary care physicians can afford to see another round of cuts in Medicare benefits. If there is, we will see a lot of hospitals and physicians drop out of the system and reduce access to care.
“I also plan to work closely with Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue on transportation and water issues,” he said.
Gingrey said he supports a decision by the new Republican majority in the Georgia Senate to reconsider the 2002 congressional redistricting.
“The 11th District needs to be shorter and fatter — a little more compact — but I will play the hand I was dealt,” he said.
However, the prospect of a Republican majority in the state Senate, where he served four years, leaves Gingrey a little wistful as he heads to Washington.
On his way to winning the 11th District seat, he survived a three-way Republican primary and a runoff before defeating Democrat Roger Kahn in November.
“That was a tough election, and if someone had told me that Georgia would have a Republican governor, a Republican majority in the state Senate and a working coalition in the state House, certainly I might have considered staying in Atlanta, but at the time I decided to run for Congress, it didn’t look like there was a chance of that.
“I think the GOP Caucus will have a lot of fun showing its talents and its ability to get things done, but the job of a U.S. congressman is a pretty high altitude job.”
Beyond moving into his new office on Capitol Hill, Gingrey faces a busy week.
He will learn his new committee assignments — his first choices are Armed Services, Energy and Commerce or Education and Work Force — and will be sworn in on Tuesday. Friday and Saturday, freshman congressmen will attend an orientation in Williamsburg, Va.