Congressman Brian Mast gets sworn in Tuesday

Posted at 6:58 PM, Jan 03, 2017

The 115th Congress headed to work Tuesday with a bold agenda and some new faces, including Florida Republican Representative Brian Mast.

Right off the bat, the freshman Congressman was facing possibly his first contentious vote.

It was one that would have essentially eliminated the House's own independent ethics watchdog.

“Without a question, I do take issue with it, but it is still part of a larger rules package,” said Mast in a FaceTime interview Tuesday morning, adding he was still planning on voting yes.

However, at the last minute Republican leaders changed their minds on the controversial proposal and have decided to keep the Office of Congressional Ethics as is.

A move Mast said he agreed with.

While the Republican-run congress is making headlines with plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act and other Obama administration regulations, Mast says he is still making sure to focus on Florida.

At the top of his list, restoration of Treasure Coast estuaries and cleaning up Lake Okeechobee.

“I’ll be pressing very, very hard and beyond that pressing to get the resources that we need so that we can complete these projects in an much more expedited fashion,” said Mast.

Mast says improving veterans care is another priority.  And as former soldier, he says his other top issue is fighting terrorism.

“You’re going to see me continue to push, especially with committees like Homeland Security and those representatives on those committees to make sure our communities are safe."  

Mast defeated Randy Perkins in the race for Congressional District 18, which was Patrick Murphy’s old seat.