December 27, 1999
The First Session of the 106th Congress
As we prepare to look forward to the next session of Congress, it is instructive to look back also. Over the past few weeks I have mentioned legislation I introduced and the successes enjoyed this year. Also, recalled the various bills I have cosponsored and some of the issues I was able to bring to the House floor for a vote by the entire Congress.
Today, I want to focus on a more general overview of the last session of Congress before looking ahead next week to our plans for the new year. This last session of Congress was truly a mixed bag, but it is certain that we have not been able to reverse the trend toward bigger and more intrusive federal government.
Federal spending increased last year. New federal programs were started and the national debt continues to soar. In spite of the fact that we hear so much talk about budget surpluses, our federal monetary and fiscal policies continue to push our nation dangerously close to the edge of a very steep cliff. Once we hit the edge, we are headed for a deep economic downturn.
Unfortunately, the leadership of my own party has not been successful in attempts to curtail the President's plans for an ever-expanding federal leviathan. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office is constantly pointing out how they are appropriating more money even than the President asks for in his budget requests. This is a sad state of affairs.
Nonetheless, our voice is being heard. On issues such as education, health care and personal privacy, we have begun to see the coming together of broad based coalitions that want only to see the federal government out of the day-to-day lives of the American people. While we do not yet have a majority in Congress, often because certain Republicans from the northeast tend to be every bit as liberal as House Democrats, there is a change afoot in the nation. The American people are largely waking up to the fact that further federal intrusion is not the answer.
Last year we won some victories, small though they may be, because the people spoke. People contacted their Members of Congress and US Senators, often saying, "Enough is enough! It is time for a change!" I know this because I hear from my colleagues who tell me that they have received calls and letters, e-mails and faxes. They tell me their constituents agree with our perspective and our agenda. Namely, my colleagues here know that there is a growing movement to get the federal government off the backs and out of the pocketbooks of the American people. Ideas like medical savings accounts, education tax credits and others are gaining momentum.
Still, we have a long way to go. As US participation in this year's aggressive and treaty-violating NATO war in Kosovo proves, many in positions of leadership believe it is Washington's role to control not only every nook and cranny of our own country, but also to police every street corner in the world.
Our founding fathers had a clear vision when they left us a Republic at the end of the 18th century. And now, it is incumbent upon all Americans that we remember the lesson they taught over 200 years ago. Namely, the greatest gift we can give to the American people this new year is their very birthright, the gift of freedom. And, in order to do that it is imperative that we restore our government to the constitutional republic of limited federal powers it was designed to be. History has taught and retaught one clear lesson: namely, that it is impossible to reconcile a free citizenry with a concentrated and centralized government.
That we will once again see a rebirth of the spirit of our founders is my wish and prayer for our nation in this most holy of holiday seasons. Merry Christmas.