By Congressman Leonard Lance
As the 112th Congress begins its second month of work I am honored to begin my second term as New Jersey’s Seventh District representative in Washington.
It was a great privilege to be sworn-in again to the “People’s House” in January to work toward a more perfect Union through lower taxes, less spending and fewer regulations.
The challenges we face as a Nation are great. Unemployment is high and economic growth is stagnant. Our Nation’s debt has reached a staggering $14 trillion while non-partisan budget officials estimate that the federal budget deficit this year alone will top $1.5 trillion. These levels of debt and deficits are unsustainable.
There is grave economic uncertainty as to what the future holds for so many struggling working families in New Jersey and across the Nation.
I believe the American people sent a message last November that they want their elected officials to cut spending and enact measures to expand our economy and create jobs. That task is at hand.
So it is up to this Congress, working together in a bipartisan capacity under the leadership of House Speaker John Boehner, to get our fiscal house in order, begin to address levels of debt and put forth pro-growth policies to bring much-needed certainty to our economy. I believe the new Republican Majority is up to the task.
We have already changed the way Washington conducts its business.
In January we passed important reforms to make it easier to reduce spending, lower our debt and bring fiscal responsibility to Washington by enacting a “cut-as-you-go” mechanism that requires new spending to be offset with cuts to existing programs.
House rules now require bills to be posted online for three days before final floor consideration; committees must webcast all hearings and bill markups; and in compliance with our fundamental governing document, the U.S. Constitution, each bill must include an explanation as to its constitutional basis.
These reforms will bring greater transparency to House proceedings and make members of Congress more accountable to those who have elected us.
On the issue of cutting spending the House passed on a bipartisan basis a resolution to reduce federal spending to 2008 levels or lower. Seventeen Democrats joined all of us House Republicans in cutting nearly $60 billion in fiscal year 2011 alone.
We have eliminated the obsolete Watergate-era program whereby taxpayers paid for presidential campaigns and party conventions. As a result $617 million could be sent to the U.S. Treasury to help reduce our burgeoning debt.
We tightened our own belts by voting to reduce the operating budgets of committees, leadership offices and all lawmakers’ offices by five percent. This spending cut will save taxpayers $35 million in the first year alone.
Most important of all, we passed bipartisan legislation repealing ObamaCare. This is the first step toward enacting common-sense health care solutions that lower health care costs without raising taxes or adding to our national debt.
Closer to home I am redoubling my efforts to bring strong job creation to the region. This effort began with my appointment to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
The Energy and Commerce Committee has broad legislative jurisdiction over national energy and environmental policy, healthcare and health facilities, interstate and foreign commerce, consumer affairs and consumer protection, and travel and tourism.
This appointment will allow me to represent the tens of thousands of New Jerseyeans who work in the energy, health, telecommunications and life sciences industries to an even greater extent. And this assignment will also allow me to play a greater role in protecting and increasing jobs in New Jersey’s leading employment sectors.
One of the panel’s top priorities is to repeal President Obama’s health care law and replace it with reforms that include allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, establishing high-risk insurance pools, implementing medical malpractice insurance reform and prohibiting insurance companies from discriminating on the basis of pre-existing conditions.
In addition to my full committee assignment I was appointed to two subcommittees; I will serve on the Health Subcommittee as well as the Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade Subcommittee. The Health Subcommittee appointment is particularly important to the more than 42,000 life sciences employees working in the Garden State.
I look forward as a new member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee to working in a bipartisan capacity to help strengthen our state economy and bring more jobs to the Garden State.
There is much work ahead of us. The new House Majority in Congress is serious about cutting federal spending, reducing the deficit, strengthening the economy and restoring public confidence in the way the Congress conducts its business.
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