On the afternoon of Jan. 5, I took the oath of office to represent the people of north Mississippi in the House of Representatives. In so doing, I became the 74th Mississippian to take the oath. The same oath was taken by great Americans such as Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and John Kennedy -- an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, and this is a commitment I take very seriously.
The Constitution is the foundation of our government, and it has as its authority, "We the People "
As a way to both honor and signify our support for that document, Congress took two significant actions during the first week of the 112th session.
First, we read the Constitution aloud on the floor of the House of Representatives. This was the first time in history such a reading has occurred. It was an important symbolic gesture to show our commitment to honor our oath of office and served as a time to remember who we are as a nation. We are the land of the free and the home of the brave, thanks to the foundation our forefathers gave us. As we proudly read, we were all reminded to uphold the principles of a limited and accountable government.
Second, we adopted the Rules of the House that require any bill introduced to cite the specific constitutional authority granted to Congress to enact the proposed law. I supported this provision because I feel that in recent years, Congress has passed legislation that exceeds its constitutional authority. By requiring the specific constitutional citation, we are honoring our oath and ensuring that the federal government does not intrude on the rights and privileges delegated to individual states by the 10th Amendment.
The rules of the House made other significant changes:
* We will require all legislation to be posted on the internet for public inspection for 72 hours before it is voted on. The attitude of "let's vote for it now and find out what is in the legislation later" is a thing of the past.
* The chair of each committee will be required to make committee votes public in electronic form within 48 hours of the vote.
* The current "pay-as-you-go" requirements will be replaced with "cut-as-you-go" requirements.
Finally, we took the first steps to cut spending. The House of Representatives voted to immediately cut every Congressional office budget by 5 percent. If we are going to cut spending in other areas of government, Congress needs to act first. This shows families in Mississippi and families across America that the new majority is serious about making tough choices and putting our nation back on track to fiscal responsibility.
Abraham Lincoln once said, "We, the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution."
The federal government was intended to have a limited role in the lives of our citizens and for far too long the government has ignored those limits. We face significant challenges, but I believe better days are ahead - provided we stay true to ourselves. "We the People " are back in Washington and here to reclaim America.