This week marked the beginning of the 112th Congress. I was deeply honored to take the Oath of Office and begin my second term as your representative. I was proud to cast my first vote this Congress in support of fellow North Carolinian Heath Shuler for Speaker of the House. While it was clear that the new majority would elect Speaker Boehner, my support of Congressman Shuler over former-Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a continuation of my ongoing call for new leadership and a new way of doing things in Washington.
I promise to continue my fight to bring more common sense to Washington and make certain that every voice in our district has the opportunity to be heard, not just those on either end of the political spectrum. I believe we need individuals in Congress who are willing to work with people on both sides of the aisle to do the very job they were elected to do--to best represent the people of their district. As this New Year begins, and our nation moves forward, we must be sure we do all we can to not make the same mistakes we have in the past. We can't allow partisan bickering to stand in the way of seeking answers to the challenges that face our nation.
Much of the talk in Congress this week has centered on repealing the health care bill. This bill has been a polarizing and divisive issue over much of the past year and a half in our country. When it comes to talk of reversing the new law, simply put: we must live in a reality-based world. It has become quite clear that the Senate will not act on any repeal measure, nor will the President sign such a bill. Those who are saying they are able to repeal the law are ultimately misleading the people.
I voted against the health care bill last year due to the cuts to Medicare. We are now presented with a clear opportunity to do what is right and what the people want-- fix the law, end the political games, and then immediately return our focus to creating jobs and bolstering the American economy. I am focused on making sure we protect the people of our nation, as is our duty, and I will support any effort to make the legislation the best it can be, but I will not vote to repeal it. America has been divided for too long over the health care bill. It is my job to work to see that my concerns with Medicare are dealt with and improved. Those who say they will repeal the bill are playing politics. We have a choice: we can look backward and have the same fight all over again, or we can move forward determined to make things better and focus on our improving the economy. I choose to work to make things better.
This week I was pleased to join with members on both sides of the aisle in support of a measure to cut all Congressional office budgets by 5%, as well as Committee budgets by up to 9%. In total, these cuts are estimated to save taxpayers more than $35 million dollars. I'm continuing to work as I did last session to cut the pay of Members of Congress. As families are forced to tighten their belts in these tough economic times, so too must Congress.
The partisan gridlock that has plagued our government often prevents any possibility of finding common ground on the many important issues we face, and it is my belief that this must change immediately. As we begin 2011, we must remember that there is important work to be done to get our economy back on track and bring good jobs back home. We must continue to fight to protect our seniors and veterans, small businesses and working families. I look forward to continuing to represent the people of this district to the very best of my abilities, and will make sure that your voice is always heard.