The Rigell Report: Updates from Washington
It has been a difficult week leading up to Christmas and I want to share with you in this edition of the Rigell Report my thoughts on two challenging topics. The first is the tragedy in Connecticut. The heart of our nation is still heavy as we continue to mourn the loss of innocent children, and those who loved and taught them, at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The second is the quickly approaching “fiscal cliff.”
Tragedy in Connecticut
Teri and I are so fortunate that our two grandchildren, Parks and Reese, live close by. They announce their arrival at our home not by pushing the doorbell, but by pulling the chain of a decorative brass bell that’s just beside the door. Teri and I smile each time the bell rings. All of us, whether we have grandchildren or not, understand and appreciate the unique joy that children bring to life. Yet the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary makes tragically clear that we are not meeting our obligation to protect our children. That is profoundly wrong. We must take wise steps to reduce mass shootings and gun violence. Doing nothing is not an option.
A national debate on what those next steps should be continues to create tension between the moral imperative to protect our children with the rights guaranteed in the 2nd Amendment. I have not immediately demanded that specific steps be taken in response to the tragedy. That’s deliberate, because I have come to appreciate the wisdom gained by gathering and reviewing relevant facts; by hearing from you, the residents of the 2nd district; and by taking time to properly assess the alternatives. There are, however, certain foundational principles I hold to be true and which will guide me in this process, including:
Those suffering from mental illness must have access to proper psychiatric care, but they must not have access to guns.
Gun ownership is a constitutional right, carrying with it a high burden of responsibility.
Taking substantive steps to better protect our children and preserving 2nd Amendment rights are not mutually exclusive ends, though I acknowledge the difficulty in balancing the two.
President Obama was correct when he stated: “No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.”
Due diligence is not inaction, and you can expect to see specific updates on my efforts to address this critical topic in upcoming editions of the Rigell Report. Though news coverage of the tragedy will diminish, my commitment to advancing the right steps to better protect our children will remain.
I have been calling for a comprehensive fiscal solution. By that I mean advancing one piece of legislation which addresses simultaneously the three major elements affecting our country’s fiscal health:
Expenditures – which are much higher than our historic average
Tax Receipts – which are much lower than our historic average
Economic Growth – which is slower than our historic average
Next year, in addition to serving on the House Armed Services Committee, I will serve on the House Committee on the Budget, led by Chairman Paul Ryan. I will continue to be guided by the numbers, not talking points, and I will continue to speak boldly on the urgent need to reduce the deficit.
An optimist by nature, I remain hopeful that before the end of the year, Washington will find common ground that substantively addresses our nation’s fiscal challenges. Meeting our obligation to the next generation of Americans depends on it.
**See Congressman Rigell's recent media appearances about the 'fiscal cliff'
As we begin this special week and gather with friends and family, we will not forget our veterans and their families, including -- as always -- our Blue and Gold Star families. We pray for the families of the victims in Connecticut for whom Christmas will never be the same. Please continue to keep all those who are missing loved ones in your hearts this week.
Teri and I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas.
Yours in Freedom,