We must finish what we started after 1994

House Republicans won the majority in 1994 with an agenda based on reform. In 2006, we will remind the American people of our vision for America by moving an aggressive legislative agenda built upon these reform principles.

Our agenda will expand upon last year’s successes in the House of Representatives, in particular the Deficit Reduction Act, tax reconciliation, an across-the-board spending cut, the Patriot Act, a bill to fund cord-blood research and a border-security bill.

First of all, we will focus on finishing what we have started. Last year, the House passed important reforms in a number of areas that have yet to become law. Among many items, we must finish our work on immigration and border security, extend tax policies that have grown our economy, enact pension reform, restrict the use of eminent domain and increase broadcast decency standards.

Early in the year, we must set out to regain the trust of the American people by enacting tough new lobbying and political reforms. These will include new rules governing privately funded travel, new public disclosure requirements for lobbyists and new requirements subjecting shadowy 527s to the same rules and regulations as others who attempt to influence the legislative and political process.

In addition, the House will work with the Senate to reform the earmark process. Specifically, earmarks must be identified with the members requesting them and must be accompanied by a justification for how the expenditure serves a public purpose. Extending the same requirement to the administration would also be a good addition to the grant process.

This year, we must continue to reform and reprioritize government so that it reflects our values. We need smarter, not bigger, government.

For families and businesses, new expenditures almost always require a reduction in spending somewhere else. The government should be no different. We should recommit ourselves to the notion that government is big enough already by ensuring that any new initiatives are paid for by reducing or eliminating lower priority programs the government has been funding.

Specifically, I propose focusing on how the government can adopt some of the best private-sector management practices to eliminate waste and abuse and adopting a requirement that any new government programs be offset by reductions in existing government programs.

Finally, Republicans will work further to reform government and control the cost of entitlement programs. I am especially interested in applying our welfare reforms and work requirements to other public assistance programs. To accomplish these changes in mandatory programs, I have proposed annual spending reconciliation bills.

We must also continue to implement pro-growth policies to bolster economic growth and job creation. The four greatest threats to continued economic expansion are rapidly escalating healthcare and energy costs, lawsuit abuse and the threat of automatic future tax increases.

Republicans are committed to lowering energy costs by expanding the availability of domestic fuel sources, increasing refinery capacity and developing alternative fuel sources. We are finally beginning to win the fight against lawsuit abuse, and we will build upon our past success by expanding the availability of health savings accounts, making health insurance more portable and enacting legislation to speed up the use of information technology in health care. We will also ensure that there are no future automatic tax increases on families or entrepreneurs by making permanent or extending the tax relief enacted over the past five years.

House Republicans will continue to work to restrain judicial overreach and attempts by the courts to undermine the traditional family and the right of parents to raise their children as they see fit and to abolish any mention of religion from the public square. We should consider legislation reforming the 9th Circuit, limiting judicial consent decrees and, where appropriate, limiting the jurisdiction of federal courts to review certain items, as was done for the Pledge of Allegiance last year. We will consider additional tax relief focused on families, such as eliminating the phone tax first imposed to fund the Spanish-American War.

House Republicans will continue to make national security our top priority by providing the equipment and resources needed by our men and women in uniform so that they may safely and effectively fight and win the war on terror. We will stand firm against those who would undermine our national security by suggesting that we “cut and run” from Iraq.

At the same time, we will boldly confront emerging threats, such as Iran. At a minimum, we should enact tough new sanctions and penalties on Iran and those who are aiding them in their effort to build weapons of destruction and destabilize the world.

While these items alone constitute a significant legislative agenda, I believe House Republicans will do even more over the next several months. House Republicans are at their best when they are working to fulfill our vision of a limited government that promotes entrepreneurs and encourages job growth, defends the family and secures our country.

As we approach a new legislative year, I am committed to speaking with each member of our conference personally about our vision and to listening to ideas for our agenda.

As the majority whip, I’ve always understood that a major part of my job was to know the Republicans in Congress better than any other person and to listen to and learn from each of them. That approach will help us continue to achieve the best results for the American people.