Friday, January 08, 2016
Billy Long: Reviewing my accomplishments
One of the most high profile things a Congressman does is vote. Once you vote you are on the record for all the world to see. Some will heap praise on your vote by saying “thanks for standing up for us,” others will look at the same vote and call you a sell-out. I hear, “why did you vote with leadership on that bill?” or “why did you fight leadership so hard on that bill?” I thought it might be helpful to give an example of the latter that sticks out while reviewing my accomplishments of 2015.
In July, Congress failed to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which was very detrimental to several manufacturers in my Congressional District. To me, it was common sense that the bank needed to be reauthorized – especially since it was one of the few things the government does that returns money to the treasury.
While GOP leadership was staunchly against the bank’s reauthorization to the point of not even letting the issue come to the House floor for a vote, we that supported it got active. Those of us that wanted to reauthorize the bank felt strongly that it would pass overwhelmingly if leadership would quit holding it up in committee.
We decided that the only way to prove we were right was to use an extremely rare process known as a “discharge petition.” Needless to say, leadership was furious with us as they too realized what a vote would reveal. Our discharge petition was successful and we were proven right when the vote to reauthorize the Ex-Im Bank passed overwhelmingly with a vote of 313 to 118.
In another instance this past December, I voted against leadership when they brought a costly $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package to the floor. So, don’t let anyone tell you I won’t go against leadership when it’s in the best interest of my District.
This being said, overall, 2015 represented a very successful first session of the 114th Congress and I am proud of many of our accomplishments where I saw eye-to-eye with leadership. By repealing the broken Medicare provider reimbursement formula, we have drastically improved access to care for our seniors. In the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, we accomplished the first long-term surface transportation funding in years. Toward the year’s end, for our citizens’ safety, we passed new measures to help protect American citizens from foreign terrorists wanting to enter our nation. We also passed the Student Success Act, which gives parents and local stakeholders more power over education.
Also, I worked hard in helping to pass the 21st Century Cures initiative – a package to modernize medicine development, discovery, and delivery processes at our federal agencies. Also, the Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion (ENFORCE) Act, which I authored to help combat import fraud, passed the House as part of a larger bill that will strengthen trade policy in our nation. ENFORCE will directly benefit manufacturers in my district.
Sometimes serving the people who elected youcan mean working together in the House to pass broadly supported policies, and sometimes it means putting my foot down and going against the grain. In 2016, I will continue putting the people of the Ozarks first with every vote I take. We have already taken a vote to repeal Obamacare, which will reach the President’s desk for the first time. Also, I will continue fighting against the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, to defund Planned Parenthood, and to implement a pro-growth economic strategy.