Plan to keep spending in check, rein in federal red tape
Speaking at community meetings in Lakeview and Klamath Falls, I gave an update on the bill passed by Congress to fund most of the government through September. Although the bill is not perfect, it includes numerous provisions that will directly benefit people across Oregon’s Second District, while also cutting discretionary spending for the fifth year in a row to a level below when President Obama took office. Getting deficit spending under control is a huge priority of mine.
The bill prevents a rushed listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, a move that threatens to destroy rural economies just like the listing of the spotted owl did in timber communities. It also halts an increase in grazing fees and provides resources to help reduce the current backlog in processing grazing permits. And it extends payments to counties to help offset losses in tax revenue due to non-taxable federal land. This provides Oregon counties with much needed revenue for essential local services and ensures the federal government pays its fair share on land it owns.
Under current rules, participants in the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) federal nutrition program are barred from purchasing fresh white potatoes with WIC funds. This bill lifts that ban, allowing WIC participants to choose Oregon potatoes as a healthy, low-cost way to feed their families.
As part of the spending reduction bill, Congress cut funding for the IRS to below 2008 levels. It also prohibits the agency from using funds to improperly disclose confidential taxpayer information or to target groups for scrutiny based on their political beliefs. The plan increases oversight of the EPA as well and reduces funding for the agency, which has seen funding reduced by 21 percent since 2010. Under this bill, staffing at the EPA will be at its lowest level since 1989.
The bill blocks any U.S. funding from going to the United Nations to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which I have strongly opposed due to its potential threat to Second Amendment rights. It also takes care of our active duty military by fully funding a pay raise and making sure our veterans get the needed health care they earned and deserve. I’m not going to vote against those who are defending our freedom.
I share the frustrations of many regarding the problems with Obamacare and with the President’s actions regarding “amnesty” for those who are not here legally. My opposition to Obamacare is well known, as is my opposition to President Obama’s overreach on immigration and other issues. I will always stand up for the Constitution and our rights under it.
I look forward to January when Harry Reid no longer runs the U.S. Senate and we have a bigger majority in the U.S. House. With more “troops” on the way, we stand a better chance of stopping the President, which is why we put the funding for immigration related programs on a short leash. I will continue to fight to restore the rule of law.
Although the spending reduction bill isn’t perfect, the alternative of a continuing resolution would have left the government on autopilot and none of these changes I’ve outlined above would have occurred.
We live to fight another day, with more votes in the House and a new majority in the Senate. We differ little on our goals, just on when it’s best to pick the fight. I believe this measure benefits our district and the country as a whole by reducing deficit spending and helping to reign in out of control government agencies. Meanwhile, I believe it puts us in a stronger position to stand up to the President next year where the fight will focus on Obamacare and his overreach on immigration.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Greg Walden – U.S. Representative, Oregon’s Second District