November 22, 1999
This Year's Successes
Not so few as you might imagine
As Congress adjourns for the year, now is an appropriate time to consider what we achieved in this session. This year we were able to achieve a number of successes in some of the areas upon which I put considerable focus.
Early this year we focused much attention on defeating the proposed "Know Your Customer" federal banking regulation. This regulation proposed by the Federal Reserve and others would have given banks a broad mandate to spy on their customers and report any unusual transactions.
We were successful in shedding much light on the threat presented by this regulation, and after some 250,000 citizens complaints were lodged during the official "comment period," the regulation was withdrawn. This is not the final word on this issue, however, as I have introduced legislation to repeal the so-called "Bank Secrecy Act" under which this regulation was proposed. As long as this legislation remains in force we will not be free from these egregious acts of bank regulators.
One other area in which we found some legislative success deals with the plan for a National Identification Card. A 1996 bill required states to conform their issuance of driver's licenses to federal standards. Because the mandate would essentially be put into effect next year, this was our last chance to derail this heinous policy.
Fortunately, within this year's transportation appropriations bill we were indeed successful in stopping this plan dead in its tracks. With the help of Senator Shelby, Congressman Frank Wolf and others, we repealed the mandate and ended the National Identification Card.
I also introduced HR 1812 this year, to end the needless and inefficient policy of draft registration. The Department of Defense issued a report pointing out why this program is a waste of money and simply makes no sense in light of current personnel requirements consistent with modern warfare. Moreover, my concern is with the threat to personal freedom evidenced by compulsory registration with the federal government.
The basis of my bill was included in the committee report issued by Chairman Walsh's appropriations sub-committee, and when it came to a vote on the House Floor we were able to win with a convincing majority. Two-hundred thirty two Members of Congress voted to support my position. Unfortunately, the funds for the program were reinserted in the bill by the Senate and signed into law by the President. However, considering that when I first returned to Congress a couple of years ago we saw this agency attempting to grow and take on new responsibilities, it is no small victory that we won a vote on the House floor this year to actually eliminate the agency.
Another key victory we have had is dealing with the US Postal Service regulation that would allow further invasions of the privacy of Commercial Mail Receiving agencies and their many customers. Since I proposed HJR 55, the post office has backed off its original position and redrafted its regulations to make them less onerous. However, we will continue to fight on this front until this regulation is totally repealed.
On each of these items, intimately linked with personal freedom from federal government intervention, we were successful in moving the ball forward in this session of Congress. Next year, I will continue to be very active on these issues, as well as working to achieve success in bringing about our vision of a limited federal government in a number of other key policy areas.