Friday, June 19, 2009

Rep. Kevin McCarthy: wrestling with the Democrats on taxes, looking for transparency in government

Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, submits his weekly report from Capitol Hill. Let's hear it in his own words.

"First, special congratulations to Fruitvale Jr. High's National History Day team for winning the national title.
I finished up Friday afternoon doing the weekly “colloquy,” which is where a Republican leadership representative discusses with a Democrat leadership representative what is on the floor schedule for next week. If you would like to see this exchange, I posted the YouTube link on my twitter account ( I was selected to represent the Republican leadership and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) represented the Democrat leadership. Though we differ on many issues, the tone of the debate was civil and respectful. One instance of note during our exchange was the majority leader accusing some on the other side of aisle of filibustering a bill on the floor this week. Now I have only been in Congress for one term, but I do remember government class-filibustering a bill is a lot longer than taking 20 minutes to debate an amendment to improve a bill and save taxpayers’ money.

"The rest of the week was a full week of marathon voting in House, as we started the annual appropriations process. I believe that we should have open debate when it comes to using taxpayer dollars to fund the Federal government. Government funding bills (also referred to as appropriations bills) are usually offered in open debate, and members are allowed to offer different amendments in an open and transparent process to reduce funding levels or get rid of wasteful spending to save hard working taxpayers’ money.

"The House passed two funding bills: (1) the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS), and (2) the Legislative Branch funding bill. The CJS bill appropriates $64.4 billion for Fiscal Year 2010, which is 11.7% more than this fiscal year’s level, and the Legislative Branch bill totaled $3.674 billion, which was an increase of $237 million from this fiscal year’s level. It was unfortunate because like I mentioned before, as we started to debate amendments on the floor, the Majority leadership changed the floor rules midway into the debate to limit the number of amendments that could be offered. There were 127 amendments offered for the CJS bill that were designed to save taxpayer money, but the Majority leadership would only allow 23 to be debated and voted on. Washington needs more transparency, and offering amendments is one way to have the necessary check and balance on spending by challenging the status quo and letting the best idea be voted up or down. For the Legislative Branch spending bill, it was the same story. Only 1 of the 20 amendments offered was allowed to be voted on up or down. As we move forward, I hope future funding bills that we take up in the next couple weeks allow for greater cooperation and bipartisanship, and I told Mr. Hoyer that I would like to work to accomplish that.

"I also attended a Financial Service Committee hearing regarding legislation to help areas hit hard by foreclosure and unemployment. In my remarks, I commented on the causes of unemployment resulting from harsh water restrictions.

"I finished out the week by going on local radio with Bob Jamison on KCNQ from Lake Isabella, to talk and take questions from listeners. Bob and I discussed the need for more accountability and transparency in Washington. After finishing up on the floor Friday, I was able to meet a California National History Day winner, Hayden Mullin, an 8th grader from Paso Robles. His project, on the history of Levi Strauss, was entered into the annual national competition here in D.C.

"Next week, we may begin debate on national energy tax legislation, which could impose over $3,000 in extra costs on every household in America. Also on the agenda are other appropriation bills. Expect another busy week.

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