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Weekly Update: Congress must do its job

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Washington, June 9, 2018 | comments
Weekly Update: Congress must do its job
By Congressman Wittman
June 9, 2018

Congress has a major opportunity. For the first time in several years, the House could complete all twelve appropriations bills before leaving for the August recess. I have been advocating for this for years, and I am thrilled that leadership is taking this seriously.

Funding bills are extremely important. For years, we have found ourselves budgeting by crisis through Continuing Resolutions (CRs). Under a CR, all spending remains the same, meaning that we can’t fund new programs, cut outdated ones, or plan for the future. Our military is also unable to properly budget, leading to insufficient training, unmaintained equipment, and decreased readiness. Fiscal Year 2019 begins on October 1, 2018, so it is critical that Congress pass funding bills by then.

Unfortunately, the House has only just started the consideration of the twelve annual appropriations bills that fund our government. With fewer than forty legislative days until the end of the fiscal year, I believe Congress should remain in Washington if the work is not complete. That is why I’ve introduced for many years H.Res 43, the Stay on Schedule (S.O.S.) resolution, to change congressional procedures to prohibit the House from taking an August recess unless it has passed all regular appropriations bills by July 31.

I appreciate that district work periods allow Members to visit with folks back in their respective communities. I know that if we are able to get our jobs done, I will be spending my August traveling across the First District meeting with the constituents and discussing what issues are most important to them. However, I do not want to have to explain why Congress was not able to finish the work.

This week I led a letter to Speaker Ryan, that several of my colleagues signed on to, that says to keep Members in Washington until we have done our jobs. I stand ready to work around the clock to get the government funded before we break in August, well before the September 30 deadline.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate will be staying in Washington three out of the four weeks of August. I believe that is a great step towards completing the work of the nation and I have urged Speaker Ryan to do the same.

I am proud of what the House has accomplished during the 115th Congress. We have passed 803 bills out of committee, 695 bills out of the House, and have had 175 bills enacted into law. I personally have had four pieces of my own legislation signed into law this Congress, including the SHIPS Act, the Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017, and the Keep America’s Refuges Operational Act. We passed once-in-a-generation tax reform that is helping more Virginians keep more of their hard-earned money and finally passed a funding bill that gives our warfighters the raise they deserve. However, I believe that to keep our promise to Americans, we must pass these appropriations bills on time to avoid another harmful Continuing Resolution.

As I have done for several years, I will continue voting against adjournment, asking the Speaker to cancel the August recess, and seeking cosponsors for my “Stay on Schedule,” if we have not completed all twelve appropriations bills. These critical national priorities, especially funding our nation’s defense, are too important to delay.

There is a famous line by Thomas Edison that goes like this: “There is no substitute for hard work.” This August, instead of going on vacation, Congress should stay here and continue working on behalf of the American people.
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