Goodlatte Hopeful A Deal Will Come
It’s A ‘Spending Problem,’ Lawmaker Declares
Posted: January 4, 2013
HARRISONBURG — Sixth District Rep. Bob Goodlatte assures his constituents that Congress can overcome its divisiveness to strike a broad deal solving the nation’s debt.
But, unsurprisingly, the longtime Republican from Roanoke says President Barack Obama must show better leadership before an agreement can be reached.
Congress and Obama avoided, at least for the time being, sending the nation over the “fiscal cliff” by striking a last-minute deal late Tuesday night.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 raised the nation’s debt ceiling and set in motion the fiscal cliff by creating automatic tax increases and across-the-board cuts to federal programs if a deal was not reached before this New Year’s Day. The measure would have reduced the government deficit by an estimated total of $2.3 trillion through 2021.
This week’s agreement, however, puts off many of the toughest decisions on spending cuts, such as delaying the deadline for a vote on automatic defense cuts for two months.
Goodlatte said he voted against the deal because it did not address spending reductions. He says Congress has a “spending problem,” not a tax revenue one, as the nation’s debt has grown from $14 trillion to $16 trillion in the last two years.
Obama supports tax increases and “wasn’t willing to put anything on the table” to address spending since he won re-election in the fall, Goodlatte argues.
“We should have a balanced approach,” he said. “I didn’t agree with what he sees as balanced.”
But in an increasingly partisan Congress, why should Americans expect to see lawmakers reach a deal in just two months?
Obama has stated that he wants future debates to have a “little less drama.”
Goodlatte supported the Budget Control Act because it called for spending cuts, and he thinks Democrats and Republicans can follow that up with a compromise in the coming weeks.
“That was a good first step,” he said of the 2011 act. “You have to judge each [deal] as it comes up. … The Congress is not one person. It’s 535 people in two different bodies.”
Goodlatte, who has been in office since 1993, has faced criticism from some in the district for being part of the Washington gridlock. Most polls show Congress with an approval rating in the midteens, a historic low.
Voters make the decision on who heads to Washington, Goodlatte notes. In a heavily Republican 6th District, the congressman has garnered at least 60 percent of the popular vote every election cycle.
“Because I have experience and have been doing this for a while, there are more opportunities for myself and constituents,” he said.
On Thursday, Goodlatte assumed command of the House Judiciary Committee, one of the most coveted chairmanships because the panel has jurisdiction over immigration, criminal law, constitutional amendments and intellectual property.
“It’s a great opportunity that would not have come if I had not built up tenure and experience,” he said.
One of Goodlatte’s first acts as chairman Thursday was the reintroduction of a balanced budget amendment. It would require Congress not to spend more money than it receives.
The bill also requires the president to submit a balanced budget to Congress.
Another contentious issue in the House this week was delaying legislation that would provide as much as $60 billion in federal aid to Hurricane Sandy victims.
A vote to offer an initial $9 billion is set for today, and a vote on more aid for Jan. 15.
House Speaker John Boehner decided not to have the House take action late Tuesday, setting off a flurry of outbursts, notably from fellow Republicans New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Rep. Peter King of New York.
On Thursday, Goodlatte said he is willing to vote for whatever spending is needed. Still, he says the Senate’s version of the bill includes funding for areas unrelated to emergency relief and must be reviewed.
Contact Preston Knight at 574-6272 or email@example.com