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Judiciary Committee Chairman Announces Committee Agenda for 113th Congress


Location: Washington, DC

Today House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) laid out his policy vision for the Committee in a speech before the Christian Science Monitor Breakfast. Below are his remarks as delivered:

Chairman Goodlatte: The Judiciary Committee plays a particularly critical role in advancing pro-growth policies that create jobs and restore economic prosperity for families and businesses across the nation, and in making sure the Administration is held accountable to the American people.

Under my leadership, the Judiciary Committee will advance an agenda that is focused on making America more competitive and free.

First, I'm committed to restoring accountability and providing relief from excessive regulation to our nation's small businesses and job creators who need it most.

A study last summer by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development revealed that after measuring countries by the number of regulations they have, "it is now easier to start a business in Slovenia, Estonia and Hungary than in America."
Unfortunately, this disturbing ranking is something our small business owners know all too well. They are suffocating under excessive bureaucratic red tape. And the uncertainty about the cost of these upcoming regulations discourages employers from hiring new employees and expanding their businesses.

That's why the Judiciary Committee will focus on legislation to reduce the economic burdens that our nation's small businesses are facing, to get more Americans back to work, and to help grow our economy.
Another ingredient to a more competitive America is an efficient and just legal system. As chairman, I'm committed to focus on legislation like the FACT Act, which encourages openness and transparency in the system, discourages fraud and frivolous claims, and ensures that funds meant to benefit legitimate victims are not used to pay fraudulent and abusive claims.

We'll also focus on reforms to discourage frivolous patent litigation and keep U.S. patent laws up to date. The strength of our economy relies on our ability to protect new inventions and build on innovation in the 21st century.
Furthermore, technology will help us solve many of the pressing problems our nation currently faces. We need to make sure that the federal government's efforts are focused on creating incentives that encourage innovation and eliminating policies that hinder it.

That's why we'll also look at modernizing the decades-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to reflect our current digital economy.

We should recognize that while technology has brought tremendous improvements to our quality of life, these advances have also brought about significant vulnerability. Cyberattacks are a direct threat to our economic prosperity, privacy, and way of life. The Judiciary Committee will make it a priority to enhance our nation's vulnerable systems to protect our networks and computers and ensure our national security and economic well-being.

We must also create a stable fiscal outlook for consumers and businesses. We need to look at broad institutional reforms, like the Balanced Budget Amendment.

I re-introduced two Constitutional amendments to balance the budget in the opening minutes of the 113th Congress.

When I introduced these bills two years ago, the national debt had topped an unprecedented 14 trillion dollars. Today, the national debt has soared well past a staggering 16 trillion dollars. This rapid increase in debt and four consecutive trillion dollar plus budget deficits are clear signs that Washington has a serious spending problem that it cannot cure within the existing framework.

A Constitutional amendment will force Congress to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending and make the decisions necessary to balance the budget and eliminate the federal deficit.

This year, Congress will also engage in a momentous debate on immigration. We all agree that our nation's immigration system is in desperate need of repair and it is not working as efficiently and fairly as it should be.

Earlier this month, the Committee began our examination of the U.S. immigration system by starting to evaluate our current legal immigration system and ways to improve it, as well as the history of the enforcement of our immigration laws. We'll continue to look at ways to eliminate backlogs, secure our borders, address the illegal population, create reasonable guest worker programs, and reform programs to bring needed, skilled workers to America.

But before we rush to judgment, we need to carefully look at the current laws on the books to see what is and isn't working. Reforming our nation's immigration laws is a massive undertaking that will have lasting ramifications for America and is too important to not examine each piece in detail.

The Judiciary Committee will also play a key role in protecting the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. From the 1st Amendment's protections for religious freedoms, freedom of speech and freedom of the press to the 4th Amendment's safeguards against unreasonable searches and seizures to the 5th Amendment's private property guarantees, these are not rights given by government, but rather God-given rights that government is bound to protect.

This obligation is forever enshrined in our Constitution and the Judiciary Committee will work to make sure that government continues to protect, not encroach upon, these freedoms.

We will do this by examining the sufficiency of current laws and also by conducting aggressive oversight of the Obama administration.

That oversight includes our hearing later today on the Administration's drone-kill policy. The Committee has a constitutional duty to examine the Obama administration's targeted killing of alleged American terrorists overseas.

The Administration's decision to impose the ultimate penalty on American terrorists abroad stands in stark contrast to its criticism of the previous Administration's detainee policy. It also raises serious questions about the role of due process during wartime, particularly as it pertains to the rights of U.S. citizens. The Committee must guarantee Americans' constitutional rights are protected.

As Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, my duty is to ensure that the Committee is focused on economic opportunity, prosperity, and freedom for all Americans. It is truly an honor to serve our nation in this new capacity, and I look forward to getting to work on these significant issues.

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