New Rules to Play By
Our first order of business, after electing Republican John Boehner as Speaker of the House, was to pass a rules package designed to make Congress more transparent and to make it easier to cut spending. The new rules package requires that when members introduce legislation, they must cite the specific Constitutional authority under which Congress is authorized to enact the proposed law. The rules also require that bills be posted online for at least three days prior to a vote so that the public has an opportunity to review new legislation. Finally, the new "cut-as-you-go" rule requires Congress to offset new spending with cuts elsewhere. It was a good start, and I can't help but feel optimistic about the new year.
Cutting the Waste
Despite the change in leadership, Democrat leaders stuck to business-as-usual opposing our very first spending cut of the year -- $35 million from our own operating budget in Congress. Cutting our own office budgets by 5 percent is just the first of many steps we will enact to rein in Washington's out-of-control spending addiction. When the current budget levels expire in March, House leaders intend to roll back spending levels to the pre-stimulus, pre-bailout days of 2008.
Repealing Health Care
House Republicans this week also began making good on their Pledge to America by moving forward with a repeal of the Administration's ill-conceived health care law. Since it was passed, the "unintended' side-effects of the plan have piled up, including dropped coverage and higher costs for American employers, Medicare Advantage patients, and Illinois small business employees. This vote fulfills the promise we made to voters in November that we would work to replace policies that raise taxes, threaten jobs, cripple economic growth, and endanger high quality care. Over the coming months, our new majority will push for more consensus-minded reforms like those contained in alternatives I sponsored to expand coverage for pre-existing conditions, open competition across state lines, and enact medical malpractice reform. The procedural vote we took this Friday will allow for a vote on full repeal as soon as next Wednesday.
In other news, the U.S. Department of Labor reported today that unemployment in December dropped from 9.8% to 9.4%. It's a promising change in direction, but also a reminder that creating jobs for 15 million out-of-work Americans must continue to be our top priority. I am eager to get to work, and I have already introduced eight bills that will promote economic growth, help low-income families, and strengthen the U.S. financial system. For a preview of my first eight bills in the new Congress, read my press release below or click here.
As always, it is an honor to serve you. Do not hesitate to contact me if you have legislative ideas for the new Congress or if there is anything I can do to help you.
Member of Congress