By Rep Jim Gerlach
With about 14 million Americans still out of work and a huge number of businesses struggling to survive, many of my constituents are wondering why Washington is not acting with greater urgency to rejuvenate our economy.
I, and many of my Republican colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, share that frustration.
The real shame is that the House has passed several bills this year to empower small businesses, reduce regulatory burdens hampering job growth, increase sources of American-produced energy and rein in reckless Washington spending only to watch the Democrat-controlled Senate refuse to act on this legislation.
Unfortunately, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his leadership team are spectators at a time when we when we need legislators.
Here are just some examples of how they have stymied legislation and caused our economy to continue to sputter:
Eliminating unsustainable debt and reckless spending -- It has been nearly three years since the Senate has even attempted to pass an annual budget. The lack of a federal budget contributes to the overwhelming uncertainty, which is a huge drag on job creation and economic growth.
Without a yearly federal budget, state and local governments have a harder time forecasting whether they will have enough money for roads, bridges and transit system repairs and upgrades. Colleges cannot decide whether to move ahead with building projects.
In April, the House sent the Senate a serious, reform-oriented budget plan that would halt the string of $1 trillion-plus budget deficits each year that have our national debt reaching unprecedented levels. Most of the constituents I speak with understand that we cannot continue borrowing more than 40 cents of every $1 the federal government spends. We need to start being honest and demonstrate real leadership. Passing a realistic budget would be a start.
Ending unreasonable regulation -- No one disputes there are instances when it is appropriate for the federal government to serve as a referee and ensure everyone plays by the same rules. But the onslaught of overzealous regulation in recent months is crushing jobs.
In Pennsylvania, thousands of workers in the Commonwealth's once-thriving cement industry are threatened by harsh federal regulations that give the Environmental Protection Agency unprecedented power. And public schools, colleges, hospitals and manufacturing plants that use boilers would be forced to spend up to $20 billion on costly equipment under new rules being pushed by regulators.
The House recently passed several bills aimed at forcing agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency to be more transparent and consider how their actions would impact jobs. We can protect our air and water without putting workers on the unemployment line. The Senate needs to act on the proposed Cement Sector Regulatory Relief Act, the proposed EPA Regulatory Relief Act, the proposed Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act, the Energy Tax Prevention Act and the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act to protect jobs and allow our businesses to remain competitive.
Maximizing American-produced energy --All businesses need energy to light their plants and power their computers and machinery. Workers need fuel to run their cars to get to and from their jobs. The owner of a local landscape supply and power equipment repair business told me during a recent meeting that "every time gas prices go up, my business goes down." Despite gas prices topping $4 in recent years, neither the President nor the Senate has demonstrated any real commitment to practical solutions for increasing supplies of American-produced energy.
The House has passed several bills to remove bureaucratic barriers preventing the responsible and safe exploration for oil and natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico and off our shores. Among the bills bottled up in the Senate are the proposed Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act, Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act, Reversing President Obama's Offshore Moratorium Act, The Jobs and Energy Permitting Act of 2011, and North American-Made Energy Security Act.
During these challenging times the country is demanding leadership.
And if we want to do our part in Congress to put more Americans back to work, then the Senate must immediately get to work.