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Congressman Joe Wilson: Time for serious budget reform

Posted: October 29, 2013 - 5:55pm

The government shutdown should have never occurred. Because the president and the Senate Democrats announced a tactic of no negotiation with House Republicans, the government’s doors were closed for business for 16 days.

Prior to the shutdown, House Republicans supported four different pieces of legislation to keep the government functioning and protect our fragile economy from default. Once functions ceased, a bipartisan group in the House passed a dozen bills to provide for some of the most critical roles of our government.

We voted to pay our brave men and women in uniform, including those serving at Fort Jackson, our National Guardsmen, and Reserve Units. The House voted to open national parks, memorials, and monuments so that World War II veterans could access the sites dedicated to them for their heroic service. We also fought to ensure our military chaplains maintained religious freedoms during the government shutdown. Bipartisanship was evident when we approved funding for low-income women and children’s benefits, educational programs, and medical trials that could save lives.

The House also provided resources for the National Nuclear Security Administration so that vital national security missions at the Savannah River Site remained on track. I am aware of the hardships SRS families faced due to the shutdown, which is why I introduced legislation so all entities at the site would remain up and running.

Our intent in passing these issue-specific bills was to encourage the president and Senate Democrats to come to the table, engage in negotiations, and propose a reasonable solution to end the government shutdown. Unfortunately, proper negotiations never took place. Because the final debt ceiling and government funding measure did not align with my core beliefs of limited government and expanded freedom, I could not support it. I am very pleased, however, that a small group of Republicans and Democrats from both Chambers will form a bipartisan conference committee and begin real negotiations to find ways to reduce spending before government funding expires in January.

All in all, the government funding bill did not achieve any substantial spending cuts, but kicks the can further down the road when it comes to our nation’s debt crisis. Passing a burdensome debt onto future generations by continuing to run up our nation’s credit card should not be an option on the table. For the next 60 days or so, Congress has a tremendous task on its hands. We must make serious reforms to our budget so that our children and grandchildren will have the same opportunities we shared. As your Congressman, I will continue to pressure the president and Senate to actually begin working with us on these reforms so that all constituents living in South Carolina’s Second Congressional District will have a better future.

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