Thursday, January 6, 2011
Actions taken in Congress during lame duck session
Action during the Lame Duck
During the final weeks of the year when most Americans were focused on preparing for Christmas, Congressional Democrat leaders rushed to jam through a number of liberal priorities. At the same time, Republicans called on Congress to stop the tax hikes, fund the government, and head home so the newly elected Congress could address the other issues raised. Passing legislation to prevent the largest tax hike in our nation’s history was the single most important issue that needed to be resolved during the lame duck session. In the new Congress, I hope we can tackle the main concerns of the people and pass responsible legislation rather than hasty ill-conceived bills.
Preventing a Job-Killing Tax Hike
As the U.S. economy struggles to rebound, raising taxes on any American family or small business would have devastated our recovery. In Mississippi, a family with a median income of $46,668 would have owed $2,000 more to the federal government than last year if Congress had not acted. Fifty percent of small business income and 25 percent of the American workforce faced substantially higher taxes. Because of the bill Congress passed, these tax increases will not go into effect.
Preventing the tax hikes from hitting Americans is one of the many steps we needed to get our economy back on track. Maintaining the existing tax rates helps create stability so businesses can invest and hire. The tax package also includes an extension of the GO Zone bond and bonus depreciation provisions to help the Gulf Coast attract private investment and create jobs. Keeping the GO Zone provisions provides important tools to spur economic development in the hard-hit areas along the Gulf.
Federal Government Funding
The Democrat leadership in Washington also failed to pass a budget or any of the regular appropriation bills in 2010. Instead, Majority Leader Harry Reid suggested a last-minute catch-all package that was everything voters said they did not want – another 2,000-page, big government spending bill that included $1 billion to fund the health care law. I opposed this monstrosity because it was the wrong way to go. Rather than jam through a controversial bill, Congress passed a reasonable, short-term continuing resolution at existing levels. Now, the newly elected Congress can decide how best to use taxpayer dollars.
Direction for the Military
A National Defense Authorization Act must also be passed annually to set funding priorities and provide resources to support our armed forces. This measure gives both short- and long-term direction to U.S. military leaders operating around the world.
Language in an earlier version of the Defense Authorization bill would have reversed a long-standing ban on the use of Department of Defense medical facilities to perform abortions. I strongly opposed this abortion provision and worked to guarantee its removal. After abandoning an attempt to load controversial liberal priorities into the bill, Congress enacted a responsible authorization for the Department of Defense to help our troops abroad and here at home.
I remain committed to ensuring that our servicemen and women have the resources they need to accomplish the very difficult mission asked of them, and this Defense Authorization achieves that goal.
Congress should not rush through any bill to check the box for a political priority. Instead, we should listen to the American people and get it right.
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