Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04) took the Oath of Office today as the 113th Congress convened and outlined his legislative priorities and goals for the coming year in the following statement:
"I greatly appreciate the opportunity to continue to represent the Fourth District and look forward to working with my constituents and local officials to address their views and needs. We have many challenges in 2013 and much work to do, and I will work to the best of my ability to advance the common-sense solutions our Nation needs."
"First and foremost, we must get a handle on the Nation's debt and make the common-sense spending cuts and tax reforms that are needed to ensure a strong economy for all Americans and a bright future for our children and grandchildren. We missed an opportunity with the most recent fiscal-cliff vote, but we will have another opportunity in two months when the automatic cuts associated with the sequester must be addressed, along with the issue of increasing the debt limit. We need to look at every program and every line item with an eye to eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse.
"One place to cut spending -- and I plan to introduce legislation to that end -- would be to reduce funding to those countries that vote against the U.S. in the United Nations a majority of the time. The only exceptions should be for humanitarian or geopolitical reasons. We also need to enact tax reform, and I am once again a sponsor of a Fair Tax plan that would eliminate the IRS and simplify the tax code for all Americans. I also am a cosponsor of legislation to repeal the estate tax -- the "death tax" -- and to enact a balanced budget.
"My support for Seniors and Veterans will continue to be a top priority. We need to preserve and strengthen Medicare and Social Security and honor our commitment to our senior citizens. We owe a debt of gratitude to our Veterans and must continue to provide the services that they need.
"Ensuring abundant and affordable energy resources is another priority that I will continue to promote as a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Energy is vital to our economic and national security, and we need to do all we can to encourage -- not inhibit -- domestic production.
"As Chairman of the Science Committee in the last Congress, I held a number of hearings on fracking, a drilling process that has opened up vast reserves of natural gas, created new jobs, and helped keep energy prices low. I also led aggressive oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency and exposed several instances where proposed rules that would hamper fracking and other energy efforts were based on flawed and often secret science. I will have an opportunity to continue these efforts as a member of both the Energy and Science Committees.
"Maintaining America's leadership in space is another priority that I will continue to advocate on the Science Committee. We cannot cede our leadership to China, Russia, or any other country. Our Nation's innovation and competitiveness are tied to the spinoffs and skilled workforce associated with NASA, and we must continue to promote a strong and robust human space exploration program in order to preserve our competitive edge and our strategic national security interests.
"Another priority of mine will be to repeal Obamacare, and I look forward to serving as a member of the Health Subcommittee of Energy and Commerce to help accomplish this goal. Americans need accessible and affordable health care, but Obamacare will lead to higher costs and fewer choices. We need to ensure that patients receive the treatment their doctors prescribe -- not what federal bureaucrats dictate. Rural health issues, a permanent solution to Medicare reimbursements to providers, and interstate insurance exchanges are other goals for healthcare reform.