The Rigell Report: Looking Back at Year One
First, I want to wish all of you and your family a Happy Holiday season. Please keep our troops and their families in your thoughts and prayers as you gather with loved ones in the coming weeks.
As 2011 comes to a close, I want to update you on my continuing priorities and some of the work I have done this year as your Representative in Congress.
Priority: Creating Jobs
• Introduced legislation to pave the way for the Wallops Research Park on the Eastern Shore: My legislation to remove an outdated federal land restriction would allow Accomack County to develop Wallops Research Park, creating hundreds of highly-skilled and well-paid local jobs on the Eastern Shore. This legislation has passed the House Committee on Natural Resources, and I am hopeful it will get a vote on the House floor soon.
• Founded the Job Creators Caucus: Co-founded the Job Creators Caucus, which provides a platform for business owners who are now Members of Congress to collaborate on core policy issues affecting job creation, regulation, and economic growth.
• Protected small businesses and access to capital: The House passed my amendment that would require the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to analyze any proposed regulation for its impact on small businesses and consumers’ access to capital.
• Cut through the red tape: Earlier this year, we learned that a local job-creator faced bureaucratic hurdles at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After working with HUD officials, Members of Congress and local community leaders, we cut the red tape to allow a true “shovel-ready” project to proceed. This action alone will result in at least 100 new jobs in Virginia Beach.
• Supported various job-creating pieces of legislation: I am proud to have supported numerous pro-jobs pieces of legislation, more than 20 of which now sit idle in the Senate. You can see a list of all the jobs bills the House has passed at my website, Rigell.house.gov.
Priority: Cutting Spending
• Supported legislation to curb spending: Voted for more than $8 trillion in cuts from the federal budget to get our fiscal house in order, including the Path to Prosperity and the Cut, Cap, and Balance Plan.
• Voted for a balanced budget amendment: I know that American families do what they have to do to live within their means; and so too should the government. Only by a permanent change of behavior can we truly save our children and grandchildren from debt they did not create.
Priority: Protecting the Military and Supporting Veterans
• Improved Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek – Fort Story: Little Creek’s electrical distribution system is decades old and cannot sustain the current demands placed on it. Last year, more than 100 work hours were lost and property damaged as a result of electrical service interruptions and brown outs. To remedy this situation, I worked with the Navy to utilize emergency military construction authority to construct a new electrical distribution system at Little Creek. Construction will be underway soon.
• Continued efforts to keep the carriers in Virginia: In coordination with Reps. Forbes and Wittman, we amended the National Defense Authorization Act in the House to prevent further military construction at Naval Station Mayport, FL, to support the Navy’s CVN homeporting. The Department of Defense is under tremendous budgetary constraints. Faced with difficult trade-offs, the Navy must defer the Mayport homeporting and invest in those areas where real risk exists today, like ship construction and maintenance accounts.
• Supported legislation to protect military families and veterans: TRICARE fees and other military health care costs have come under scrutiny in the past year as a potential area for savings, but I do not support any increases to the current structure. In addition, I have worked to protect military pay from Congressional inaction by introducing legislation designed to keep our service members from being used as leverage during budget debates.
Priority: Changing Congress
• Lead By Example: Introduced the Lead By Example Act that would prohibit matched contributions in the Thrift Savings Plan – the federal 401k plan – for Members of Congress in years where there is a budget deficit.
• Cut my own salary: Cut my own pay 15% and declined benefits from the federal pension and the Thrift Savings Plan, which will save taxpayers money. I also cut my congressional office budget to 2008 levels.
We have much work to do to put our country on a better fiscal path. In the coming year, I hope to open up the energy sector in Virginia and around the country in order to create jobs and move toward energy independence. We must also take a bold look at tax reform and continue to make progress in our effort to fix a broken Congress with common-sense solutions.
Mindful that I work for you, I remain
Yours in Freedom,
Member of Congress