Congress perennially has one of the lowest approval ratings of any government body. Constituents continuously feel that Congress makes decisions only to benefit themselves, rather than to solve the problems that we sent them there to accomplish.
Fix Congress Now! Caucus
In order to correct this problem and stop Congress from passing legislation that benefits members of Congress instead of working Americans, I created the Fix Congress Now! Caucus with Reps. Scott Rigell (R-VA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), and Jim Cooper (D-TN). Our bipartisan caucus focuses on non-partisan reforms and initiatives such as term limits, Congressional pension reform, budget reform, and other reform-minded policies that will make Congress more responsive to constituents and end the careerism in Washington.
Examples of legislation Fix Congress Now! Caucus works on:
- Enacting Congressional Term Limits
- Ending Congressional Pensions
- The End Pensions in Congress Act (H.R. 3480) would exclude members of Congress from receiving a federal pension.
- Requiring Congress to Complete our Work
- The No Budget, No Pay (H.R. 3643) would require Congress to pass an annual budget and appropriations bills by October 1 each year for members to be paid.
In order to truly reform Congress and regain America’s trust, Congress must make institutional changes to the way it operates.
In April, President Obama signed into law the STOCK Act, which bans members of Congress from insider trading. I was proud to support this legislation when it came to the floor in the House. I will continue to support legislation that will prevent members of Congress from taking advantage of the information they learn while engaging in Congressional activities.
Reduced Office Budget By Over 11%
Since the first few months in office, I have continuously voted to save taxpayer funds by reducing my own office budget. Members of Congress receive more than $1 million to run their congressional offices, and I voted to reduce that number by more than 11 percent, returning that money to the Treasury.
Term Limits Legislation
Our founders envisioned the Congress as a body of citizen legislators, not lifetime politicians. To fundamentally change the way Washington operates, we have to change who we send to Washington to represent us. That is why I have introduced term limits legislation (H.J. Res. 101 and 105) to ensure serving in Congress is a privilege, not a career.
Motions to Recommit: What they are and why they need to be fixed
A Motion to Recommit is a procedural motion that allows the minority party to amend legislation on the House Floor before it is passed. Under the rules of the House, the minority party is allowed to offer this motion on most bills that are voted upon and the minority party exercises this right on the vast majority of bills that come to the House Floor.
Since the House is governed by majority rule, I believe it is very important that the minority party (either Democrat or Republican) be allowed to voice its beliefs on a particular issue or legislative priority. However, this procedure has morphed from an ability to express policy disagreements into an opportunity for the minority party to play politics. ,. Both Democrats and Republicans have been guilty of this in recent years and it was the Republican Party that openly began the tactic. I feel this blatant politicization has caused further damage to both the legislative process and fostering an effective government for the American people.
This action occurs on the vast majority of votes but a recent example can be found with the House passage of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act. This bipartisan bill aimed to reduce burdensome financial regulations on small businesses and startup companies and gave them greater investment flexibility. President Obama announced his support for this legislation, and it passed the House by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 390-23. However, despite broad support for the bill, a Motion to Recommit was offered that had nothing to do with the legislation.
The instructions contained in the Motion to recommit required that the bill be reported back to committee with an amendment providing for public disclosures to the Federal Election Commission of any political expenditures or contributions made during a fiscal year.
Not only did the Motion to Recommit have nothing to do with the actual bill, but 147 Democrats – the vast majority of their caucus – voted for the underlying bill only moments later! It makes little sense to vote to send a bill back to committee for revisions, and then vote to pass the same version of the bill on the House Floor. Further underscoring the lack of legitimacy in these actions is the fact that members of the majority party do not even have an opportunity to read or review these Motions to Recommit until moments before the vote. They have become nothing more than a political gimmick.
I fully support ensuring that the minority party in the House has the right to express its views on issues voted on the House Floor. Unfortunately, the minority party, whether Democratic and Republican, is now simply using this procedure as a tool to attack the opposing party.
Both parties have used this tactic to their advantage. But we all know two wrongs don’t make a right. Therefore, both parties should put down their swords and worry less about scoring easy political points and instead focus on working on legitimate solutions for the American people.