U.S. Representative Phil Gingrey of the Georgia 11th District released the below statement earlier today concerning the 112th Congress which will be sworn in on January 5th, 2011:
It has persevered through sustained periods of war, trying economic times, and catastrophic natural disasters, yet it may not survive its own government. The American Dream — the optimistic belief that a better life can be had through hard work, thrift, and sacrifice — was once thought to be attainable by the majority of our countrymen. Now, according to an ABC poll taken this past September, that viewpoint has reversed course. Staggering debt, burdensome over-regulation, and uncertainty over future tax rates has Americans feeling uncharacteristically pessimistic about their future.
Unfortunately, the big government initiatives of President Obama and Nancy Pelosi — from government sponsored health care and corporate bailouts to an ill-advised climate control scheme — have only served to make that outlook gloomier. Over the last two years, the free market has been increasingly undermined by a central government apparatus that stands ready to meet our nation’s challenges with billions of borrowed dollars and stifling regulation. The result of this increasingly routine government overreach is that our citizen’s liberties have been regularly — and somewhat casually — infringed upon. While other global economies have demonstrated fiscal responsibility, our own government has been on a power-hungry spending spree, instituting crippling policies left and right.
It has been doing so, that is, until now. This week, the resounding voice Americans spoke with on November 2 finally turns into action. With the dawning of the 112th Congress, our mandate is clear: stop the spending, abide by the Constitution, create jobs, and foster economic stability. Now more than ever, it is clear that living up to this mandate will not be about quick fixes or wallowing in our petty differences – we must fundamentally change the way we do things here in Washington.
In the coming days, I intend to introduce a legislative package that represents the type of policies we must pursue in order to foster meaningful government reform. Included will be a bill stating that any legislation brought to the floor must cite its Constitutional authority. Many may be surprised to know that while votes taken on the floor of the House are available to view on the web, votes taken in the committees are not. That is why my package also contains a Committee Transparency Bill, which requires committee votes to be posted online so that our elected officials are kept accountable to the American people.
Living within our means, essential to the American Dream, is a key component of my plan, which is why I incorporated the Congressional Budget Accountability Act. Each year all Members of Congress receive a fixed budget for all office expenses, known as the Member’s Representational Allowance (MRA). This bill would require that unused MRA funds must be returned to the U.S. Treasury for debt reduction and not into the House coffers to be used by the Speaker or any other Members of Congress. For example, I have returned over $900,000 throughout my tenure in Congress.
The American people may be shocked to know that government employees are currently permitted to spend official time performing union activities. That is why my platform contains a bill to stop this practice, which would save $1.2 billion over 10 years. Less of a surprise is that legislators in Washington commonly attach unrelated bills — that cannot pass on their own merits — to “must pass” legislation, such as funding for the military. I will therefore advance an initiative to require the Military Construction and Veteran’s Affairs Appropriations Bill to be considered as a stand-alone bill, to prevent the bill providing for our nation’s veterans from being used for other purposes. Last but certainly not least, my package will include a bill to make the Bush tax cuts permanent, bringing needed certainty to our nation’s job creators.
We have no time to waste getting our country back on track and reinvigorating America’s sense of optimism. While these bills may seem like a small start compared to the big challenges we have ahead of us in this next Congress, it’s a pathway to start changing business as usual in Washington. Now is the time to ensure that the American Dream can persevere for generations to come.