Paul Cook: A mandate from voters for new direction
Last month, President Barack Obama declared, “I’m not on the ballot this year… but make no mistake, [my] policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them.”
On Election Day, the American people agreed, voting to elect the largest Republican House majority since the late 1920s and a Republican majority in the Senate.
This was not only a repudiation of the president’s policies, but a mandate from the people for a new direction. This new Congress has the responsibility to get government back to work.
For four years, Harry Reid’s Senate blocked House efforts to create jobs, make government more efficient and grow the economy. Now, with a newly elected Senate majority dedicated to working with the House, we have the opportunity to send long-overdue legislation to the president’s desk. These bills include expanded American energy production and exploration, a simplified tax code, stronger national security and robust job-creating legislation. Any attempt by the president to veto or obstruct this legislation would be ignoring the clear message of the American people.
Additionally, the new Republican Senate majority will restore a crucial check on this administration. The president’s claim that he can bypass Congress and govern “with a pen and a phone” requires compliant courts and compliant staff in key executive agencies. Through its control of the confirmation process for appointees, the Senate can hold the president accountable in a way that the House cannot and ensure that presidential appointees who ignore the primacy of Congress will not be confirmed. The appointment of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General will serve as a key opportunity for the Senate to check the president’s overreach. Before she is confirmed, the Senate must get a commitment from her that she’ll never go along with any administration amnesty scheme.
Increasing domestic energy production and ending our reliance on foreign oil must be a top priority for the new Congress. By creating a diverse domestic energy portfolio, we can stabilize living expenses for middle-class families hit hardest by spikes in energy and gas prices. America must maximize the resources we have, rather than rely on foreign oil fields subject to capture by terrorist groups like ISIS.
We also need to deal with defense sequestration. Draconian cuts to national security spending have threatened our readiness and could send troops into combat underprepared. When Americans put their lives on the line for this country, we owe it to them to take every precaution to ensure that they’ll return safely. We also need to ensure the new leadership at the Veterans Administration follows through on the reform package passed by Congress and signed into law last summer. We’ve failed our veterans too long, and we must do better.
Finally, we must fight to create good-paying jobs for working Americans. The first step to a strong economy is scaling back government rules and regulations. Small businesses are the engine of the American economy, and the administration’s regulations have caused that engine to stall.
Last year, legislation to limit the president’s ability to impose job-killing regulations failed to pass a divided Congress.
With a new Republican majority, I expect this crucial bill will reach the president’s desk next year.
These are just a few of the vital bills that can become law in the next Congress.
I’m hopeful that Congress will be able to work with the president to follow through on the American people’s mandate. Expanded energy, stronger national security and veterans services, and less regulation should be the top priorities of the next Congress as we work to keep America strong.
Rep. Paul Cook, a Republican, has been the U.S. Representative for California’s Eighth Congressional District since 2013.