July 2010

Jul 1, 2010

Proposing Taxpayer Savings

This week, the House Education and Labor (Ed & Labor) Committee considered H.R. 5504, the Improving Nutrition for America’s Children Act of 2010.  With taxpayers already investing $20 billion each year in child nutrition, the legislation would add another $8 billion in new federal spending and creates almost two dozen new programs.  

As a member of the Ed & Labor Committee, I voted against sending H.R. 5504 to the full House for further consideration, simply because it spends too much and expands the influence of government.  Instead, I voted to support an alternative proposal, which failed largely along party-lines, to modernize and extend school meal and nutrition programs without adding to our nation’s $13 trillion deficit.

One of the programs created in H.R. 5504 and potentially adding to our debt is the National Schools Lunch Program Equipment Grants, originally created as a “one year, one time” $100 million program in the stimulus bill to enable schools to purchase food service equipment.  Extending this program over the next five years – the lifecycle for child nutrition legislation – would come at a significant cost to taxpayers and redirect much needed revenue for the federal government to better help states meet their educational goals.  

Many of you might remember the catch phrase repeated often during debate on the stimulus: timely, targeted and TEMPORARY.  The National Schools Lunch Program Equipment Grants, initially part of the stimulus bill, stands to take its place as another layer of federal bureaucracy and require taxpayers to cover the costs of elaborate new equipment for schools, even though it’s traditionally the responsibility of states to provide such equipment.  

As a result, I offered an amendment to H.R. 5504 to strike the National School Lunch Program Equipment Grants from the legislation.  With our country facing such a serious fiscal crisis, as well as more-pressing challenges within our education system, do we really need to be spending hard-earned tax dollars to buy schools new refrigerators and stoves?  I say no.

Families are making tough choices in today’s economy.  For many, it might not be the best time to purchase new kitchen appliances.  They are making do with what they have.  The federal government should follow the same example and, more importantly, begin aligning our nation’s budget priorities.  

My amendment failed mostly along a party-line vote.  Still, I intend to continue working to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful spending from the federal budget, and represent the best interest of American taxpayers at every opportunity.  Savings add up quickly, making it all the more important that our efforts consistently center on responsible budgeting.

Opposing AZ Legal Challenges 

The Arizona immigration law that allows state and local police to enforce current immigration law is facing legal challenges on several fronts.  In opposition to this legal action, I recently added my name to an amicus brief opposing a lawsuit brought forward by the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as another amicus brief against the legal challenge initiated by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Arizona law and DOJ position was the subject of an interesting Washington Times article this week,available here.  The story specifically highlights the viewpoint of DOJ between enforcing the law in Arizona and prosecuting “sanctuary cities,” the name commonly given to localities that have policies and procedures in place that discourage the enforcement of immigration law.

It’s impossible to draw a distinction between the Arizona lawsuit and the defiance of sanctuary cities.  A challenge against Arizona then also underscores the federal government’s obligation to challenge sanctuary cities, particularly when DOJ’s argument against Arizona is that it’s impeding federal law. 

I’m currently exploring legislative options in this area, including a proposal to deny DOJ the expenditure of federal funds until it certifies a plan to enforce the law among sanctuary cities.  

Other Topics of Interest

Please take a moment to read my recent commentary on the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, featured in The Hill newspaper.  Click here to access.     

A report by Politico, available here, touches on my efforts to implement regulations that increase employment opportunities for veterans.   

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