Buck McKeon’s personal insights to what he feels were major victories in the United States Legislature.
The U.S. House of Representatives last night adjourned for the year after passing an omnibus appropriations bill, a fix for the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), and an extension of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon joined his Republican colleagues in highlighting the major wins made by Republicans in the final stretch of the session.
“House Republicans remained vigilant on key bills and scored huge victories for the American people on all fronts,” stated McKeon. “This has been a remarkably effective year for Republicans. Despite finding ourselves in the difficult position of being in the minority for the first time in 12 years, we worked as a team and held strong to our legislative agenda and governing principles. I don’t believe we could have projected such success a year ago.
“We were able to secure $70 billion to ensure our troops have the tools and resources needed to protect our country and to continue operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, while also forcing Democrat leadership to remove arbitrary timetable restrictions that would ultimately tie the hands of our military generals. We accomplished this and also held Democrats to a hard line on spending.
“I was encouraged by the increased transparency we saw in the overall spending bill, although I still believe there were far too many earmarks, which we will continue to fight next session. The American people made it clear during last November’s elections that they expect the government to rein in wasteful spending, and House Republicans waged a war on Democrat spending all year and managed to save taxpayers billions in ‘special projects.’
“While the last few weeks here in D.C. have been successful for Republicans, I was highly disappointed with the process by which the omnibus bill was presented to us. We were given a mere 18 hours to scour over 3,500 pages of complex legislation. Fortunately, this tactic didn’t pay off for Democrats in the end.
“Finally, we were able to force an alternative minimum tax fix that protects 23 million taxpayers from paying an average of $2,300 more in taxes, and we were able to protect underprivileged children by extending the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan (SCHIP) without extending benefits to adults, illegal immigrants, and those already covered by private plans.
“In education, Congress this year raised the Pell Grant maximum award to more than $4,700, an increase of $2.5 billion in total funding to help more American families send their children to college. We also increased funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by nearly $300 million, while increasing funding for disadvantaged children under the Title I program by almost $1.2 billion.
“I am thankful to my colleagues and the Republican leadership for their efforts this Congress, and I’m looking forward to supporting our troops, holding down spending, improving higher education, and much more in 2008.”