Washington Watch- November 16, 2012
The U.S. Capitol was full this week with newly elected members who are excited to contribute their ideas and returning members who are reinvigorated and ready to get to work fixing our nation's problems. But it wasn't all orientation and organization events. I'd like to share with you some of what's been happening in Washington, D.C. this week.
As many of you know, the Middle East is facing an increasing number of serious political, social, and security challenges. This week, Israel has had to endure a particularly heavy barrage of rocket attacks from Gaza. Iran continues to pursue nuclear capability. Al Qaeda has penetrated the demilitarized zone between Egypt and Israel, known as the Sinai Peninsula. Syria remains locked in a bloody civil war. And, the Obama Administration has withheld the truth about the nature of the attacks on our diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt for weeks.
I have received correspondence from many of you regarding the attacks on our consulates and embassies in Libya and Egypt. Like many, I am completely dissatisfied with the narrative provided thus far by the White House and the U.S. Department of State. This week, we are finally beginning to receive some answers. On November 15, 2012, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing to determine the extent of our security failures. My hope is that testimony provided by General David Petraeus at today’s hearing in the House Intelligence Committee will shed additional light on the Administration’s actions, including why it did not immediately disclose the truth to the public.
While we cannot solve all of the problems in the Middle East, it is essential that we do everything in our power to keep our diplomatic missions safe and our allies secure. My promise to you is that I will work to do both of these things.
This week, President Obama acknowledged that his cap-and-trade scheme—which was already rejected by Congress—would kill jobs and further slow economic growth. However, the President needs to do more than admit that new energy taxes will hurt our economy. He should commit to creating 20,000 new jobs by finally approving the Keystone XL Pipeline. He should call for the Senate to take up H.R. 1231, a bill passed by the House which would lift the ban on new offshore drilling and move America closer to long-term energy independence and security.
Unfortunately, the President is more focused on shutting down our current domestic energy production than expanding it. His EPA regulations are expected to shut down up to 54,000 megawatts of coal-fueled electric generation and cause at least 544,000 jobs losses next year. My promise to you is that I will fight any attempt by this Administration to make it more difficult for energy job creators to hire new workers, limit our capacity to safely develop new domestic energy, or make it harder for American families to simply pay their monthly bills. With your help, we can be successful.
Protecting America's Airline Industry
This week the House passed S.1956, the “European Union Emissions Trading Scheme Prohibition Act of 2011” by voice vote. This legislation prohibits U.S. airlines, like Georgia's own Delta Airlines, from being forced to participate in the European Union’s (EU) carbon emissions trading scheme. While it is certainly the right of all nations to govern their airspace as they see fit, the EU emissions trading system essentially taxes airlines for emissions made outside EU airspace. Such regulations are a clear encroachment on the sovereignty of other nations and in violation of numerous international treaties to which the United States and the EU member states are signatories.
The Senate also passed S.1956 unanimously, signifying the broad, bi-partisan support for standing up for U.S. sovereignty, as well as the financial well being of U.S. airlines. The bill has already made a difference, though it has yet to be signed by the President. Knowing that the House would soon vote on S.1956, the EU commissioner in charge of the emissions scheme announced a one year delay in implementing the system. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to counter this bold attempt by the EU to undermine our national sovereignty and damage our airline industry.
Since you and I began working together in Congress, we looked to find ways to cut spending and address our federal budget challenges directly. This week marked a post-election return to those efforts through proposals to address the so called “fiscal cliff,” the combination of forthcoming tax increases and deep cuts to our military and other spending programs.
We all agree that our tax code must change, but there are very different visions between the House of Representatives and the President on how to restructure it. The President has called for tax rate increases for small businesses earning over $250,000 a year. It is clear that this will hurt the prospects for those small businesses to hire new employees and expand. In contrast, the House has proposed raising tax revenues but not raising tax rates. We would grow revenues through comprehensive tax reform that will reward innovation and hard work and expand our economy. The FairTax is one of the ideas that would do that very thing, and I'm working hard to make it part of our tax reform conversation.
Even more important than tax receipts, however, is the current path of federal spending. Any serious and credible budget plan must change that spending path, particularly the path of entitlements and mandatory spending. As a member of the House Budget Committee, I joined Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) in crafting a budget that would achieve that goal. As we head towards the fiscal cliff set for January 1, 2013, please know that I will do everything that I can to implement our reform ideas and ensure that our economy continues to grow. The President and the Senate to this day -- even after four years -- have yet to put a spending reform proposal on the table. The House can't negotiate with itself, and I am doing everything that I can to encourage the President and the Senate to put their plans for spending reform on the table.
New England Compounding Center
On Wednesday, November 14th the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Overisght and Investigations held a hearing to begin what will certainly be a long process of figuring out what went wrong at the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Tainted medication from NECC has led to hundreds of cases of fungal meningitis across the country and over 30 deaths. The hearing examined the history of complaints against the NECC, the response of the State of Massachusetts, and the actions of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hopefully, with continued oversight and with the cooperation of all the parties involved, we can get to the bottom of what happened and how to prevent it from happening again.
Thank you for your continued interest in our government and for giving me this opportunity to share with you.