The true strength of our Democracy lies in the fact that it allows for, and depends on, ideas for policy and practice to flow from the people to the government. Our system works best when government is responsive to, rather than suppressive of, the needs and opinions and ideas of citizens. As your representative, it is my honor to vote in a way that I believe to be in your best interest, and to put forward legislation that will improve the lives of people and increase the strength and security of our nation. But the inspiration for those votes and bills comes from my discussions with citizens across the 8th District. It is common sense that the more people who are thinking about a solution, the greater the odds a good idea will emerge; and the closer to source, the better.
People tell me every day that they need, want, and demand a fairer, more effective, responsive and efficient government. They are right. They deserve nothing less. I’d like to share with you a few recent examples of my efforts to help give our citizens the government they want and deserve.
Too much government is a bad thing
A story from our district made national headlines this week, when overzealous inspectors ended up not allowing a 4-year-old child to eat the healthy lunch her mother packed for her and sent to school. This unfortunate incident is but one example of how government overreach and unnecessary regulations can infringe on our everyday lives. Far too often, misinterpretation and misapplication of guidelines by government officials ends up having the opposite result than the one originally intended. In response to this unfortunate incident, I joined my Republican colleague Rep. Renee Ellmers (NC-02) in calling on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to clarify the implementation of the guidelines which caused this absurd situation. A parent taking the time and care to pack a nutritious lunch to send to school is a good thing. If that parent thinks it is acceptable for their child to wash down a turkey and cheese sandwich with apple juice, I do not think officials of any federal, state or local agency need to worry about it or interfere with it.
Protecting Sportsmen and Hunters
We received good news regarding an Environmental Protection Agency petition that would have forever changed the way men and women in our region enjoy recreational outdoor sports, including hunting and fishing. The EPA has rejected the rather ridiculous request from a group seeking to regulate out of existence some of the fishing tackle and ammunition used by anglers, hunters and recreational shooters. We need to take every reasonable measure to protect the environment and keep people safe. But the tackle and buckshot-the likes of which have been in use for centuries-pose no threat to the environment. Anglers and hunters have served as great conservationists throughout our nation’s history. As a sportsman myself, I joined colleagues from both sides of the aisle in calling on the EPA to deny this ridiculous petition, and this week they did. At the urging of our bi-partisan group, the EPA has sided with science and the evidence of years and years of American outdoor tradition and rejected the attempt to regulate, literally to death, fishing tackle and sporting ammunition that has no harmful impact on the environment.
Securing our Homeland and Economy
There was also good news this week surrounding our work to ensure that Department of Homeland Security uniforms be made in America. A bipartisan group of Senators, Rockefeller (D-WV), Collins (R-ME) and Tester (D-MT), have introduced our Berry Amendment Extension Act as a Senate bill, moving us one step closer to putting this common sense law in the books. The men and women who guard our borders and protect our nation should not do so wearing uniforms and gear with “Made in Mexico” on the tags. This is not only vital to our national security, but also to our economic security. Just as we pride ourselves on protecting our country and our way of life, we must also establish policies that put more pride into supporting American businesses and workers.
Tax fairness for working families
I have been a major supporter of a full extension of the Payroll Tax Credit. This week, that bill passed the House with bi-partisan support. I have aggressively encouraged my colleagues in both parties to set aside the political ill will and agree on this important issue of tax fairness for the American people. This measure helps keep money in the pockets of working families to the tune of more than $1,000 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Working families don’t need the federal government digging deeper into their pockets and paychecks, especially not during a time when our main focus is on economic recovery. This bill will give them some small measure of relief in the coming months.
I believe government works best when it sets an environment in which people can be safe, free and successful, and then gets out of the way. And while that struggle continues, we have seen some measure of success in recent days that show that our efforts are paying off. I thank you for standing with me in this struggle and allowing me to represent your views and ideas and priorities.