A New Congress Begins
Thursday the new Congress was sworn in.
It has been a privilege and honor to represent Kansas in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I look forward to continuing to serving our state and you in Washington. I am pleased to announce that I will serve on the House Small Business Committee and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
I am excited to have the opportunity to serve Main Street in the U.S. House of Representatives. The wide range of policies and activities of the Committee – agriculture, taxes, health care, regulation, trade, and energy – provides tremendous opportunities to help advance a pro-growth agenda for rural Kansas. Throughout my first term I visited dozens and dozens of Kansas small businesses fearful for their future, and I will continue to serve them and all Kansans by fighting overregulation, eliminating tax increases, and opposing ObamaCare.
Additionally, I am honored to have the opportunity to continue serving America’s heroes on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee. First, our office’s investigative efforts helped to draw the national spotlight on the wasteful spending at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and I will continue that battle. Second, I am working hard to fix the problems in our veterans’ health care system – especially for veterans who live in rural areas and lack access to the care and services they need. Our veterans deserve nothing but the best, and I will continue to fight for them.
Choosing a Speaker
Our first order of business in the new Congress was to elect the Speaker of the House.
After receiving an overwhelming demand for change in leadership from the Big First, I voted for a long-time conservative leader in the House, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio for Speaker. However, John Boehner was re-elected with 220 votes. I was one of a dozen Republicans who did not support Boehner.
My vote for Speaker was a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the current leadership of the House of Representatives. They have had two years to demonstrate conservative leadership, and have failed – as evidenced by "deal" after "deal" that neglects our principles of fiscal responsibility, limited government, free enterprise, and traditional values. While I congratulate Speaker John Boehner on his re-election, I fear that – unless the House begins to stand as a beacon of conservatism and offers Americans a true alternative to the ideology of Big Government – these next two years may very well be the last of a Republican majority.
Christmas on New Years
One of the "deals" I am referring to is the one that was cut on January 1, 2013. This legislation, designed to avert to the so-called “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending cuts, was passed in haste. In fact, Senators were asked to vote on it just minutes after receiving it in the middle of the night. The House was asked to vote on it only hours after receiving it from the Senate.
On the very same day that $1 trillion in new ObamaCare taxes began, and on the same day Washington officially maxed out the credit card by hitting the debt limit, the House and Senate both passed what amounts to just another deal that will hurt our small businesses and ask our children and grandchildren to foot the bill. Instead of lowering taxes to stimulate growth, cutting spending in order to reign in Washington, and passing entitlement reform to deal with the long-term fiscal challenges, Washington simply punted.
I will say that there were some good things to like about the legislation, like:
- Maintaining the $5 million death tax exemption and indexing it for inflation.
- Providing farm policy certainty for this year.
- Stopping the congressional pay raise.
- Enacting a permanent AMT fix.
- Providing permanency in some of the tax rates, rather than temporarily extending them, as is so often done in Washington.
- Extending many business tax provisions, including bonus depreciation and expensing.
But, in addition to the $620 billion tax increase and $56 billion spending increase contained in this legislation, it was chock-full of special interest handouts. It was like Christmas, but on New Year’s Day! When America is $16 trillion in debt and running annual trillion-dollar deficits, this type of fiscal irresponsibility cannot continue. This legislation included:
- $222 million for Rum-makers in Puerto Rico the next two years
- $95 million NASCAR next five years
- $430 million for Hollywood next two years
- $59 million for algae growers
- $7 million for electric motorcycle makers
- $650 million for the makers of energy efficient appliances
- $11.2 billion to companies like GE, Morgan Stanley & Citigroup who received additional protection to move income off-shore, $9.4 billion in 2013
Upcoming Town Halls
I will host four town halls this upcoming week. I’d be honored to have you join us to share your thoughts and ideas.
Great Season, Wildcats!
On a final note, I want to congratulate the K-State Wildcats and Coach Snyder on an outstanding season. Thursday was a tough loss, but my family and my staff look forward to cheering you on this upcoming season as we have done for years.
Member of Congress