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Sunset Commission Legislation

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I come to the floor of the House again this Tuesday evening as part of the weekly Congressional Constitution Caucus efforts to highlight the Federal Government's limited powers as defined by the United States Constitution, specifically, the 10th amendment of our cherished Bill of Rights.

And I would also like to take this time to thank the gentlemen from Texas and Kansas for their efforts, the gentlemen, Mr. Brady and Mr. Tiahrt, who have been leaders on the topic that I am going to discuss briefly, and that is the need for an independent body and procedures to review the merits of the many, many Federal programs that the American taxpayer has to pay for.

In light of our high taxes and even higher deficit, the time for increased efficiency couldn't be greater than today. The American worker is working harder than he should be, sending too much of his hard earned dollars down here to the Federal Government, only to see it wasted on layers and layers of redundancy and red tape and bureaucracy.

And so for that reason, I am here tonight to show my support for Mr. Tiahrt's H.R. 5766 and Mr. Brady's H.R. 3282, which are going to be scheduled for a floor vote later this week on Thursday.

Due to these gentlemen's efforts, we have legislation they have drafted, they have set up a process of reviewing the effectiveness of Federal programs. It is a simple concept to make sure that the Federal Government is as efficient as it could be, in essence, to reduce the amount of time and energy that the American worker has to work, and the money that he has to send from his paycheck down here to Washington.

It is no secret that there are many Federal programs that are simply not serving the American public. There are programs that are duplicative, that are no longer necessary, that simply waste taxpayers dollars. The taxpayer currently works 192 days just to pay for his share of the Federal Government spending. That is just about a week ago they finished working that, and now you are working for yourself. So we are simply asking our constituents to put in a few less hours under these bills to help them to keep more of their money in the Federal budget.

It was Ronald Reagan once said that the closest thing to immortality that he would ever find here on earth is the Federal program. Well, we are trying to end that and make sure that some of these programs actually end and become mortal.

These programs have survived because, well, in part, because there is a special interests, a cottage industry has grown up, and they live off the taxpayers' largesse.

But Mr. Speaker, Members of Congress are not here to represent special interests. We are here to work for the hard working mother and father who send their tax dollars here when, instead, they would like to keep that for their own homes and their own children.

My friends from Texas and Kansas have taken this initiative to craft those legislations to set up procedures to review the bureaucracy and it is one of the top priorities of myself and the members of the Congressional Constitution Caucus to see that this legislation is put into place.

I have had the opportunity to work with Mr. Tiahrt and Mr. Brady on this legislation to make recommendations to them. I have worked with them as well, and as members, the gentleman from Utah as well sits here on the floor as well, to make recommendations to make these programs have teeth, because you see, they are already outside organizations that are simply reviewing what the Federal Government does, looks at the efficiency. There is already those outside organizations that can tell Congress what do in a more efficient manner. We have got to make that you if we pass legislation, that these new procedures will actually have teeth and make sure that they are implemented and actually reduce the size and scope of the Federal Government.

One of the suggestions that has been incorporated into Mr. Tiahrt's bill, which I think will do well to move along and add the teeth to it, is simply to add a criteria to the legislation, one to review the duplicity and the efficiency of the Federal programs, and to see whether or not current Federal programs are constitutional; that is to say, do they meet specifics limited enumerated powers that any child in this country could find in Article I, section 8. Thus we ensure that all Federal programs have a constitutionally acceptable and not outside the intended limited size and scope of the Federal Government.

So I greatly appreciate the gentlemen from Texas and from Kansas for their work in this matter.

I also would like to take this time to thank the gentleman from Utah sitting to my right for all of his work in making sure that the American public and Congress continues their focus on the Federal Government and the Constitution and his efforts as far as bringing this attention to the public each Tuesday.

And I close, as we leave the Chambers this week to go back to our districts, as part of our district work period for Congress to encourage the American public to do what other Members have done on this floor as well, to read the Constitution, to look to the limitations that the Founding Fathers have instilled into it.

And I close with this quote from Thomas Jefferson, which he stated February 15, 1791: ``To take a single step beyond the boundaries specifically drawn around the powers of Congress'' in the Constitution ``is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition.''

Mr. Speaker, the Founders intended that the Constitution would set those parameters, and I encourage this House to abide by them

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