The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Adrian Smith
U.S. Representative 

Restoring the Legislative process


Many Americans, including myself, are often frustrated by the inability of Congress to get important legislation passed. Congress was unable to agree to a new long-term Farm Bill last year. The Senate has not passed a budget in nearly four years. And it seems like Congress and the President are locked in constant showdowns to avoid the latest ceiling, cliff, or shutdown.

Some would point to divided government as the cause of the current dysfunction. However, divided government does not have to result in gridlock. During the 1980’s, President Reagan worked with a Democratic Congress to pass bipartisan tax reform, and to save Social Security for a generation. President Clinton worked with a Republican Congress to enact welfare reform and to balance the budget.

To resolve the current political impasse, we need to restore regular order and utilize the legislative process. Despite the recent debates over the fiscal cliff and the sequester, I am optimistic regular order will be used this year to pass major legislation and end the partisan stalemate which has marked the last several years.

Efforts to pass comprehensive tax reform are perhaps the best example of the shift toward regular order. The House Committee on Ways and Means, of which I am a member, will be leading the charge to reform our overly-complex, burdensome and uncompetitive tax code. Rather than writing a bill behind closed doors, passing it through the House and then sending it to the Senate, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has taken a more open and bipartisan approach.

We recognize comprehensive reform will be a heavy lift, and will require both sides working together to get across the finish line. The Committee recently established 11 bipartisan working groups to review specific areas of current tax law. I am leading the Financial Services Working Group along with Congressman John Larson (D-CT), and we are working to gather comments and facts from individuals, groups, and other stakeholders to help inform our review of current tax law.

This open process is a welcome departure from the way legislative proposals have developed in the past, and I hope it will serve as an example as Congress works on other goals this year. I am optimistic the House Agriculture Committee will use a similar process to craft a new long-term, responsible Farm Bill capable of passing the House. Compromise can take place in a conference committee after the House and Senate have both passed their versions of the Farm Bill.

I am also optimistic Congress can pass a 10-year budget resolution for the first time since 2009. Earlier this year, Congress passed, and the President signed “No Budget, No Pay” legislation which requires both chambers of Congress to pass budget resolutions before members of Congress receive their salary. Senate leaders have announced they plan to pass a budget for the first time in nearly four years, and the House will likely pass our budget later this month. Once both chambers have passed budgets, we will have two proposals from which to work to address our differences and reduce the deficit.

Restoring regular order will give Republicans our best opportunity to enact meaningful reforms and spending reductions. These efforts will help encourage economic growth and put our nation on a more prosperous and sustainable path. This effort will not be easy; however, for the sake of our country we must restore the regular legislative process.

Rep. Smith’s staff can be contacted at 308-633-6333. 


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