By Congressman Adrian Smith
It happens every two year. Another session of Congress is sworn-in. Sometimes the majority party retains control. Sometimes, like this year, the previous minority party wins enough seats to retake the majority.
When the 112th Congress convened recently, it was accompanied by a unique event. For the first time, the full text of the United States Constitution was read aloud on the House Floor. The reading of the Constitution – alternating between Republican and Democrat speakers – marked a new chapter for how things ought to be done.
The Constitution was the first document defining the government as a conduit of the people and preventing the infringement upon the rights of its citizens. Put simply, the Constitution grants the federal government a limited role in the lives of the American people.
For too long, Congress has ignored the proper limits imposed by the Constitution on the federal government. Instead of creating an even bigger federal government and empowering more bureaucracy, we should return to the principles of limited-government espoused by this founding document.
Notably, the House of Representatives has adopted a rule which requires any bill introduced in the 112th Congress be accompanied by a statement outlining its Constitutionality. This will serve to remind members of Congress of the oath we took to support and defend our Constitution.
It is our responsibility to the American people we live up to this ideal. Our nation’s debt is more than $14 trillion, unemployment has pushed 10 percent for months, and ObamaCare continues to create a climate of uncertainty.
In September, House Republicans unveiled a governing agenda which called for an immediate end to Washington’s spending binge by returning non-defense, discretionary spending for fiscal year 2011 to the pre-bailout, pre-stimulus levels of fiscal year 2008. This first step would save the American people $100 billion this fiscal year alone.
Now is the time for Congress to take steps to put our fiscal house in order, enact job-creating measures, and relieve American businesses from burdensome government regulations. Congress needs to take a hard look at entitlement and other mandatory spending programs which are rife with fraud and inefficiency.
While eliminating wasteful government spending is a good first step, we must get serious about reducing the massive debt our nation is facing. Neither Republicans nor Democrats are completely innocent when it comes to the economic downturn, and now is the time for both parties to come together to make tough choices.
The American people deserve real results. They want us to focus on cutting federal spending, providing tax relief for families and small businesses, and impeding the growth of government. These are the commonsense policies which will get our economy back on track.
On the morning of January 6th, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle read the words written in 1787 which established the greatest nation on Earth. It will be a historic challenge to live up to these ideals of good government.