Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today was appointed Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies in the 112th Congress. Rehberg will use his position to fight for reduced spending and improved oversight. The Committee accounts for almost a quarter of all federal outlays, and funds the administration of more grant dollars than all other federal agencies combined. The Medicare program, funded by this committee, is the nation's largest health insurer, handling more than 1 billion claims per year. Medicare and Medicaid together provide health care insurance for one in four Americans. He will also sit on the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee and Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee.
"These issues are far too important to be overrun and ruined by government ineptitude and inefficiency," said Rehberg. "We all agree that education opens the doors of opportunity and that access to quality, affordable health care can help keep those doors open, but we've also seen that so-called government solutions tend to exacerbate existing problems and create entirely new ones to boot. Even as federal spending went through the roof, the quality of health care and education has suffered. We need to spend tax dollars more responsibly and efficiently. We need to empower communities, not federal bureaucrats. We need to stop thinking that we can solve every problem by throwing more money at it."
Rehberg has established a strong reputation on the Subcommittee for his efforts to realize cost savings and to promote more extensive scrutiny and oversight of agency expenditures.
Last year, he offered an amendment to trim $13 billion from the subcommittee budget in response to growing concerns about ballooning deficits. The amendment failed on a strictly party line vote.
He introduced another amendment that would have blocked funding for the enforcement of a particularly ominous new reporting requirement for American small businesses that was included in the Health Care Act. The provision requires companies to start issuing 1099 tax forms to all vendors from whom they purchase more than $600 in goods and services. Currently, businesses typically issue 1099 forms only to independent contractors and freelancers receive them each year from their clients.
Rehberg also drew attention to expected over-spending on one of the first provisions of the President's health reform bill during questioning of Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. When asked why a temporary high risk pool for people with preexisting conditions was already over budget, Secretary Sebelius indicated -- to everyone's surprise -- that she didn't know how much the program would cost.
"I'm not someone who instinctively looks to government for solutions," said Rehberg. "If we learned any lesson from the last four years, it's that we simply can't solve our problems with more spending, although we can balance our budget by spending less."
*NOTE: Congressman Rehberg was today unanimously approved by Speaker Boehner and the House Republican Steering Committee.