|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.30.13
Monday, September 30, 2013 â€“
Ongoing Funding Negotiations
Congress is embroiled in a fight over the spending of your tax dollars. As I write this, agreement has not yet been reached. At this time, I think it is important to quickly review the role of Congress as envisioned at this countryâ€™s founding.
The Constitution formed a republic based on democratic principles, with the Republic including a system of checks and balances between the governing branches. The Executive Branch executes the law. The Legislative Branch writes laws and dictates spending, having the power of the purse. And the Judicial Branch enforces the law.
The power of the purse is the most powerful check on the Executive Branch that is granted by the Constitution to Congress. Accordingly, during the debate on federal spending is exactly where issues such as spending on the health care law ought to be discussed. Not only is it right, but it is our Constitutional duty. For some to suggest that it is not appropriate to debate specific spending items during funding and debt discussions is a further undermining of the Constitutional powers of Congress, thus inappropriately tilting power toward the Executive Branch.
As a devoted believer that our Constitutional Republic is the best form of government ever devised, I cannot concede the argument of debating specific spending issues during a funding and debt fight to those who would ignore the bedrock principles of the Constitution in favor of fleeting political issues.
Clearly former Democrat Speaker of the House Tip Oâ€™Neill agreed with me on this. When he was Speaker, there were 12 government shutdowns. Interestingly, Democrats controlled the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives for the first five of those government shutdowns.
I recognize that it is also part of my duty to look for a compromise. But that doesnâ€™t mean that, in seeking compromise, I ought to give up my beliefs and those of the people I represent.
At the time of the writing of this column, I have voted during this spending fight on two proposals that would prevent a government shutdown and control spending. The second proposal was an attempt by the House to compromise. The Senate has rejected each of these proposals. The Senate Leadership needs to compromise too.
Compounded Drugs â€“ A First Step
In the year that has passed since the tragic meningitis outbreak caused by tainted steroid injections from the New England Compounding Center (NECC), the Energy and Commerce Committee has held a number of hearings on the drug compounding issue. And after months working with Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) and Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) on legislation that would prevent another NECC-type outbreak from occurring again, we introduced the Compounding Clarity Act in mid-September.
Provisions of our bill were recently incorporated into the larger Drug Quality and Security Act, which passed the House on Saturday, September 28. In my view, the Drug Quality and Security Act is a first step. Though it does eliminate some of the Food and Drug Administrationâ€™s (FDA) perceived confusion regarding oversight, it leaves certain areas of practice where clarification may still be needed â€“ specifically office use, repackaging, and nuclear pharmacies. Congressman Green, Congresswoman DeGette, and I will continue working on these areas that need additional clarification in an effort to see that there are no more NECCs.
U.N. Arms Trade Treaty â€“ An Update
Despite concerns that it could infringe on Second Amendment Rights, Secretary of State John Kerry recently signed the United Nations (U.N.) Arms Trade Treaty. The U.N. Arms Trade Treaty is intended to regulate global arms trade, stop illegal arms sales, and keep human rights abusers from obtaining weapons, but as the saying goes, â€śthe road to hell is often paved with good intentions.â€ť
International agreements such as the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty must be approved by the Senate by a two-thirds majority before it can be ratified and therefore consented to. I remain opposed to the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty and have cosponsored a resolution making clear that this treaty undermines the Constitution, but I do not have a vote on ratification of this treaty. To express your views, I would encourage you to contact the offices of Senator Mark Warner and Senator Tim Kaine. The United States canâ€™t allow the U.N. to dictate a restriction on our Constitutional rights, and I fear ratification of this treaty could do just that.
As always, if you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office by email, please visit my website at ###