This was in Congressman Griffith's E-Newsletter last week; it's been sitting at the bottom of a pile of e-mail since the Big Continuous Snow began. Its belated appearance here means I'm within sight of the end of the e-mails that have been piling up for nine or ten days.
A Year of Ideas and a Bold, Pro-Growth Agenda
For several days each year, Republicans and House Democrats gather for
separate annual policy retreats. At the Republican retreat, which was last
week, Republican members of the House and Senate joined together in an effort to
sort out our bold, pro-growth agenda for this year.
Five areas in which we are planning to make a mark are national security,
jobs and economic growth, restoring the Constitution, health care, and poverty
Meanwhile, I and others are continuing to push for more change towards a
better internal procedure, including a more transparent rules process, greater
input on legislative action from the House Republican Conference membership at
large, and considering more bills of consequence.
One of the more specific processes we are working on is the appropriations
process. There are 12 appropriations bills which authorize funding for certain
government activities such as national defense, homeland security, education,
etc. These bills require regular (usually annual) authorization. Under the
Constitution, all appropriations bills must begin in the House. But like any
other bill, the Senate must agree to it and it must be signed by the President
in order to become law.
However, as reported by Roll Call, “Last year, Minority Leader Harry
Reid, D-Nev and his caucus imposed a blockade on moving spending measures to
force budget negotiation, a strategy that proved successful.” We in the House
passed several appropriations bills, but because Senate Democrats hijacked the
process, Congress as a whole wasn’t able to pass any.
Doing so would have allowed Congress and the President to work out
differences of opinion within each of the government activities without the
threat of shutting down the whole government. Health and Human Services (HHS)
funding would have been approved separately from national defense, etc.
As the result of this broken process, Congress passed without my support a
massive “omnibus” bill that will fund the government for the remainder of Fiscal
I am cautiously optimistic that this year we can restore the appropriations
process to what it once was.
But in the weeks that have passed since Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) became
Speaker, progress has already been made on other objectives.
Legislation to form our agenda is now being crafted from the bottom up,
meaning that Members of Congress will have a more equal say than in a top-down
Broader steps have been taken toward reforming this body, and I am proud to
have served on working groups tasked with doing so. One of these working groups
is to propose rules changes, and another was to reform the House Republican
Steering Committee, which determines committee chairmanships and helps to set
Additionally, under Speaker Ryan, we have been able to do what hadn’t been
done previously (due in part to the Senate’s modern filibuster rules), sending
to the President’s desk a bill repealing the Obamacare health care law.
Congress also sent two Resolutions of Disapproval (H.J.Res 71 and H.J.Res 72)
under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to block two final rules for new
and existing power plants issued by the Environmental Protection Agency
President Obama vetoed this legislation, and is expected to soon veto
legislation on his desk that would use the CRA to block the President’s Waters
of the United States rule, which seeks to assert federal control over puddles,
ditches, areas that are occasionally wet, etc.
While I regret his vetoes, I am glad we are sending him bills that not only
make clear what we stand for and believe in, but also what he believes. We will
continue to do things like this whether the President likes it or not.
A more detailed legislative agenda is still under development, as crafting
such detailed policies in a short amount of time is difficult. However, this
plan could be unveiled as early as March. I would encourage votes on these
legislative proposals at the proper time so as to help further create a clear
contrast between the policies of this Administration.
Realistically, we will need to elect a President who will work with us in
order to see the most profound difference. But in the interim, to borrow from
Speaker Ryan: “If we’re ever going to get our country back on track, we need to
make this year about ideas, not about Obama’s distractions,” he said. “And that
is exactly what we’re going to do.”
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my
office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg
office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website
at www.morgangriffith.house.gov. Also on my website
is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently
taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.