REPUBLICAN AGENDA -- (House of Representatives - June 23, 2005)
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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman from North Carolina and how we welcome her enthusiasm and her dedication to helping move forward with the Republican agenda and with the leadership that has been shown.
Mr. Speaker, before I begin my comments this evening, I would like to just pause for a few moments and commend our colleagues from across the aisle as they have stood tonight to remember and to commemorate those men and women who have given their lives in the fight for freedom. We can never begin to express our thanks and our gratitude to the men and women who fight to preserve freedom. Our country has a long, storied, noble history in the fight for freedom and democracy. I want to commend them for reminding and for remembering that there are those who have given their lives. We need to remember each and every individual.
This Nation has been being attacked by terrorists now for a couple of decades. We need to go back and as we remember these men and women who have lost their lives in Iraq, we need to also remember those that lost their lives with the Khobar Towers, with the Cole, with the first World Trade Center bombing, those in Afghanistan and those that currently serve in Afghanistan as well as all of our men and women who are currently deployed. In Tennessee, in my district, we have men and women who are members of the National Guard who are deployed in both Afghanistan and Iraq. To those families, we say we stand with you so solidly, so totally in this fight for freedom.
We have men and women from Fort Campbell, which primarily sits in the Seventh Congressional District of Tennessee, who are preparing to redeploy with the 101st or the 160th, who are in the process of being redeployed. We thank each and every one of them for their service, for their sacrifice, their families we thank for their service and their sacrifice, these precious children who are at home for the summer without mom or dad to go to the ball field with them or to take them to swimming lessons or to hold them tight at night when they are worried and have fears and concerns. We stand with you in this fight for freedom.
We are talking a good bit about what our agenda has been and being in touch with the desires of the American people. I want to call attention to a couple of things that have been in the press lately. We had seven House Members yesterday who wrote a letter to Minority Leader Pelosi saying that they were shocked by a statement in which she said the war in Afghanistan was over, and I am quoting from the letter. They wrote: "Messages like yours could demoralize our troops and undermine our efforts to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and around the world." That was in their letter, and reminding her that we have known all along this is going to be a long, long war. It is not going to be an easy war. It is going to require some sacrifice on all of our parts, on each and every single individual's part.
And then I pulled another article from today's press. It was talking about Taliban, Rebels Fight Afghan, U.S. Forces. We had 102 insurgents that were killed in 3 days of fighting in Afghanistan. It just goes to show us, those who wish us harm, those who would do evil are still out there and still fighting and fighting against freedom.
But much of this has to do with focus and where we put our focus and where this 109th Congress chooses to place its focus. We were here earlier this week talking about the agenda, the Republican agenda, and some of the things that we have accomplished. We are in our 69th day, I believe it is, of our session. There are many strides that we have made for the American people. As we have talked about this, and I know the gentlewoman from North Carolina is certainly aware of this, every time we pass a bill here, it does not mean we have added another law or added another statute to the books. Many times what it means is that we are removing or repealing something and that is the way it ought to be, because being committed to freedom, being here to defend the individual freedoms that each and every person holds dear, means that one of the things we are doing is trying to roll back that long reaching arm of government, roll it back and send that power and send that money and send that authority to the State and local levels. That is something that we as a majority feel is very important: individual freedoms, local control, moving forward on an agenda that is a conservative, well-placed agenda, rooting out waste, fraud and abuse, looking for ways to shrink some of these programs.
These are some of the things that we have been able to make progress on over the last few months: bankruptcy reform, which we passed with 302 votes in this body. That meant we had 73 Democrats cross over and vote with us to pass that. The reason they do that, most of America agrees with the majority's agenda, things that are going to strengthen families, things that are going to strengthen small business.
Class action reform. We have all heard the stories of how trial lawyers go out and make 20, $30 million off of different class action cases and then the members of the class end up with a coupon for 50 cents off, a free movie, a free bottle of juice, a free packet of some commodity. Class action reform passed in this body with 279 votes. Fifty of those votes were Democrats.
The REAL ID Act, border security, addressing illegal immigration and the impact illegal immigration has on this great Nation. We passed the REAL ID Act which is the first step in this, working in concert with many of our State legislatures. They were supporting us as we moved forward with the REAL ID Act to be certain that we had valid documents, immigration documents, used for driver's licenses. The REAL ID Act passed with 261 votes. Forty-two of those were Democrat votes.
Permanent repeal of the death tax which we have passed in this body. We look forward to seeing that signed into law, because we are looking to roll back taxes and free up this economy, continue to free it up. We have had 25 months of sustained economic growth and it comes from the tax reductions that have been passed by this majority. One of those is the death tax repeal. An important reason for this is because the death tax is a triple tax. You pay tax when you acquire an asset, you pay tax when you maintain the asset, and certainly when you earn your income that you use to purchase that asset, you are paying tax there, too. So rolling back the death tax. Two hundred seventy-two Members of this body, the U.S. House of Representatives, voted to repeal the death tax. Forty-two of those were Democrats.
Continuity of government. The energy bill. Everyone is concerned about gas prices. Something we can do that is going to help us send the right message is passing an energy bill.
And we did that in this House, sent it across the Rotunda to our friends and colleagues in the Senate. And we passed that energy bill with 249 votes; 41 of those were Democrats. And the gentlewoman knows that all of this goes to show that America responds to our agenda. They are looking forward to our reducing the size of government, getting government off their back, getting it out of their pocketbook, leaving them with more money to spend, lightening up on that regulation so that the free enterprise system can do what it does best: generate jobs. We know we do not create those jobs. Government does not create those jobs. Free enterprise creates those jobs.
So as we look at an agenda that is based on hope, is based on planning for the future, is based on a better life for our children, we welcome that the other party comes along and supports this agenda because we know it energizes America. We have provisions that energize this economy, that get us moving in the direction that we should be moving.
I want to thank the gentlewoman for organizing this hour, looking at the strength that is in the agenda that we are working on this year and looking at the momentum that we have for this agenda. It is going to be a busy summer here in Washington, and it is going to be a very brisk, aggressive fall. And we look forward to continuing to work on these issues of taxation, of regulation, the immigration, addressing illegal immigration, litigation, beginning to continue to address these frivolous lawsuits; and we know that progress is going to be made on behalf of the American people.
I thank the gentlewoman for yielding to me and for inviting me to join her on the floor.
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