Friday, June 19, 2009

GUEST COLUMN: "Holding Congress Accountable for Spending Your Money" by John Boehner

By Congressman John Boehner

Recently in the U.S. House of Representatives, the will of the American people was trampled. It was trampled by a majority party that can’t spend your tax dollars fast enough and doesn’t like being questioned about its big-spending ways.

We’ve begun what’s known as the appropriations process, during which lawmakers debate and vote on the spending bills that fund federal departments and agencies. The first of these bills the House took up was for the departments of Commerce and Justice through fiscal year 2010. Lawmakers from both parties had a lot of amendments designed to change this bill. On the Republican side, most of our amendments were designed to reduce spending, because we believe that’s what the American people want Congress to do. We know government has grown too large and too expensive. Some of it happened on the Republican Party’s watch in recent years. But we learned from those mistakes, and it’s time for the current majority to learn from them, too, by working with us to rein in spending.

Unfortunately Speaker Pelosi decided Republicans shouldn’t be able to offer our anti-spending amendments. Just 30 minutes into the debate with more than 100 amendments to get through, debate was suddenly closed down and Democrats announced new rules. They decided they didn’t want to debate our proposals to cut spending, and to avoid them, they changed the rules in the middle of the game.

Let me tell you about a few of the amendments the majority didn’t want considered. One of them is a bill I’ve cosponsored that would limit the amount of tax dollars going to groups that engage in voter fraud like ACORN. Another would have stopped politicians from using your tax dollars to pay for projects named after themselves. And another would have allowed Americans to scrutinize every pet project that lawmakers put into the bill so that you know exactly how your tax dollars are being spent.

Speaker Pelosi and our Democratic colleagues decided we didn’t have time for any of these common-sense proposals to be considered.

We’ve seen this before. Earlier this year, the American people were denied the chance to read the 1,000-page so-called stimulus bill that was rammed through Congress. We all know how that turned out. Taxpayers ended up paying for huge bonuses for AIG executives, an “airport for no one” in rural Pennsylvania, and a bridge in Wisconsin that reportedly carries fewer than 300 cars a day – many to a place called Rusty’s Backwater Tavern.

American families are struggling in today’s economy. At a time when every dollar in the family budget counts, Washington needs more debate over how the government spends taxpayer’s money – not less. Americans were promised jobs by the current majority in Washington. Instead all they’ve seen so far is more government and more spending. Where are the jobs?

House Republicans have put Speaker Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues on notice: we aren’t going to let the concerns of the American people be ignored. We forced a record-breaking number of votes on our amendments that were designed to reign in the Democrats’ out of control spending. Approximately every five minutes over eight hours on Thursday, June 18, lawmakers were called to vote – and sometimes revote – on the amendments that Speaker Pelosi decided she didn’t have time for.

My Republican colleagues and I are going to demand accountability, on and off the House floor, and do everything we can to bring proper scrutiny to the majority’s budget-busting, free-spending plans. Our children and grandchildren deserve nothing less.