A LOOK BACK AT OUR LEGISLATIVE SUCCESSES
January 13, 2006
One year ago, the House of Representatives convened for the first session of the 109th Congress with an ambitious agenda. On the table for action were a wide range of issues including the promotion of free trade, an overhaul of energy policy, reform of bankruptcy laws, and the first efforts to control entitlement spending in almost a decade. While these issues involved much hard work, they were the ones that demanded action and the ones where success would yield the most significant benefits for Americans.
Three of these goals were achieved this summer with the passage of the Energy Policy Act, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention Act. Until this August, the U.S. had been without a comprehensive energy policy for 30 years, and this lack of direction was reflected in a number of instances - from the blackout in the Northeast in 2003 to our ever-increasing dependence on foreign oil. With the passage of this legislation, I believe Congress struck a genuine balance among energy priorities by providing America with clean but reliable and affordable sources of energy for the future.
Also in August, President Bush signed into law CAFTA. This important trade agreement finally established a level playing field between the U.S., the Dominican Republic and the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. This region is our tenth largest export market, and the prospect of exporting $15 billion in goods and services annually virtually tariff-free to these countries is a big win for America's farmers and jobs for other American workers.
Additionally, President Bush signed into law significant bipartisan bankruptcy reform legislation, which cracks down on those who abuse our bankruptcy laws and provides broader consumer protections during the bankruptcy process.
While these are important accomplishments, I believe the most tangible legislative priority, in terms of its effect on Americans, was Congress' effort to rein in spending and lower taxes. Congress forced itself to make the tough choices required to curb its habitually excessive spending.
The budget and tax reconciliation packages, which the House passed in December, will provide almost $40 billion in savings and extend important tax relief such as the deduction for higher education expenses and the reduced rate on capital gains and dividends. Although these bills have not yet been signed into law, they are priority number one for 2006.
The House of Representatives set numerous goals for 2005 and worked up until the final days of the year to see that they were accomplished. I look forward to representing the people of the 6th District during the second session of the 109th Congress.