At the start of the 114th Congress, incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) renewed his commitment to restoring regular order in the U.S. Senate. In his opening floor remarks, he reminded colleagues from both political parties that Americans sent a clear message last November. He said, “They asked for a government that works.”
One of the first steps toward achieving that goal is to legislate through the committee process, where panels with jurisdiction and expertise can thoroughly and publicly debate bills under consideration. In this way, lawmakers can scrutinize measures and work to resolve differences before legislation comes to the Senate floor. Over the past few years, major bills have been forged in backroom deals with no opportunity for amendments or open deliberation. Regular order would replace political expediency with stability and consensus.
My committee work covers a diverse range of issues, from the preparedness of our troops to the impact of the Obama Administration’s extreme environmental agenda. During this Congress, I look forward to serving as chairman of both the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and the Commerce Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet. In a recent floor speech, I outlined a few of my priorities for these subcommittees, as well as issues ripe for committee oversight. They include:
- Ensuring our sailors and Marines have the resources they need. With emerging threats around the globe and the smallest U.S. Navy since World War I, strategic investments in seapower are critical to America’s ability to project power and respond to complex contingencies. The Subcommittee on Seapower plays a vital role in crafting a Defense Authorization Bill that meets national security requirements and provides strong support for our Navy and Marine Corps.
- Encouraging broadband growth and development. The Internet serves as a powerful economic engine for communities in Mississippi and around the country. The Communications Subcommittee will continue to advance ways to promote the deployment and adoption of quality broadband, particularly in rural America.
- Reining in costly executive overreach. As a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I am directly involved in congressional oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, which has proposed a litany of inflated rules and regulations. The committee will serve as a forum for challenging these controversial power grabs and the financial burdens they put on the American people with limited – and at times, dubious – claims of environmental benefit.
- Enacting a budget resolution. By law, each house of Congress is required to enact an annual budget resolution. Over the past five years, however, the Democrat-led Senate passed a budget only once. As a member of the Budget Committee, I look forward to producing a budget resolution that deals in a serious way with out-of-control federal spending. With the debt now greater than $18 trillion, interest payments are set to become the fasting-growing budget expenditure.
A reinvigorated role for committees in the legislative process will go a long way toward fixing the dysfunction that has exemplified Senate activity in recent years. I am encouraged by the discussions at the outset of the 114th Congress to work on sensible, bipartisan legislative items that have the potential to receive the President’s acceptance. I hope these discussions will continue to fuel practical solutions to the urgent issues of our day.