Last week, I voted for a Continuing Resolution (commonly referred to as a "CR") to fund government programs for the rest of the 2013 fiscal year. I rarely support CR's, because they are often put together at the last minute after Congress has failed to complete its work through the annual appropriations process. What's more, they rarely, if ever, reduce spending. This CR was a little different though--it locked in real spending cuts--the largest spending cuts to discretionary spending since World War II. This bill also included more flexible funding for our military and veterans' programs. The across-the-board cuts in the sequester have the potential to damage our national security, and reduce our services to the men and women who served our country with pride. That's not right. So this legislation provided for a military pay raise and put in place more targeted cuts that won't hurt our armed forces. Finally, this bill denied all new funding for ObamaCare.
Next on our agenda, Congress will be working on a 2014 budget that makes smarter cuts to bloated programs, promotes a healthy economy, eliminates ObamaCare and balances the budget in ten years. Unfortunately, President Obama is already more than a month late on submitting his budget proposals. But House Republicans have a plan that we'll start discussing this week. I'll keep you posted on the progress of our talks, and I'll work on your behalf to get our deficit under control so that America's next generations aren't stuck with the price tag for Washington's current spending problem.
Fuel Transport Act
If you work in agriculture, you know that a lot of modern equipment like combines, planters, and harvesters have fuel tanks that can hold 250 gallons or more. But current government regulations prevent agricultural employees from transporting more than 118 gallons at a time. That means that during the busiest times of year, producers are forced to make multiple trips to the fuel station just to fill up their equipment. That adds time and money that they can't afford.
So I introduced a bipartisan bill that will make it easier for farmers, custom harvesters, and agricultural producers to safely transport the fuel they need for a day of field work. It simply broadens an existing exemption to federal laws so that producers can safely transport up to 1,000 gallons of fuel for their combines, harvesters, and other large equipment. This is a safe, responsible solution that reduces federal burdens on the people who feed and clothe America, and it's an example of the kind of smart legislation I'll be working on this year to find common-sense solutions for West Texans.
United Nations Arms Trade Treaty
I receive a lot of letters and calls from constituents every week, and one subject that comes up frequently is the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The treaty is intended to develop international standards for responsible weapons transfers, which should prevent illicit international trade of small arms. However, there are some problems with the treaty that could potentially affect U.S. sovereignty and foreign policy. How? Well, the treaty language is so broad that if we implement it, people who want to undermine our right to bear arms could try to use that language to make their case. Another problem is that it treats all countries equally with respect to weapons transfers. So responsible democracies would face the same restrictions as totalitarian dictatorships. Right now, the U.S. is taking part in negotiations on the treaty, but we haven't agreed to sign it yet. I want to make sure that we don't sign it, so I signed on as an original cosponsor of a resolution to oppose this threat to our sovereignty. Our Constitution gives Americans the right to govern ourselves, and we should never trivialize those rights through flawed treaties.
Action Item of the Week: Congressional Tours
Today, I met with some middle school students from Sweetwater who are in our nation's capital to learn about our history and government. You may have heard that the White House is no longer welcoming public tours, and the Obama Administration is blaming the closure on the automatic spending cuts in the sequester. While those spending cuts are mandatory, closing the White House is a choice. I think it's especially disappointing, because the White House isn't simply the President's residence--it's a public museum, an American landmark, and it belongs to all of us. One of the services my offices provides is arranging tours for West Texas residents visiting Washington, D.C., like the Sweetwater students who were here today. While I won't be able to arrange White House tours in the near future, the United States Capitol is still open to the public. Just call my office at 1-888-763-1611 or fill out our online tour request form, and my staff will be happy to help you plan your visit to the People's House.