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Lame Duck Dangers

Congressman Adrian Smith

When a football game goes into overtime or a baseball game goes into extra innings, fans are usually on the edge of their seats with excitement.  Unfortunately, when Congress goes into extra innings it usually means bad things for American taxpayers.

In Congress, such overtime is called a “lame duck” session, and one is set to take place shortly after the November elections.  I am concerned this session will be used as an opportunity by some to bring up controversial issues without the possibility of being held accountable.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid seem bent on doing an end run around the American people by holding this session after the voters have spoken but before a new Congress is sworn in.

Chief among my concerns is the proposal to take up another version of the cap-and-trade energy legislation.  This proposal is nothing more than a national tax on energy consumers – and will hit the energy-intensive agriculture industry particularly hard.

This tax will increase energy costs for Americans by up to $3,000 per person each year and has the potential to stop our nation’s economic recovery before it even has a chance to take hold.

Efforts also are underway to bring up another stimulus bill similar to the $1.1 trillion monstrosity which failed to lower unemployment, spur economic growth, or create jobs.  President Obama recently has tried to sell a $50 billion bill using the same failed premise as the original stimulus package.

This ‘lame duck’ session also could easily feature anti-business legislation such as the misnamed Employee Free Choice Act - known as ‘card check.’  This controversial legislation would take away workers’ rights to secret ballot elections, leaving them vulnerable to harassment and intimidation.

My colleague Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) twice introduced measures designed to prevent a lame duck session from being used to pass such job-killing legislation.  Unfortunately, both efforts were denied an up-or-down vote on the House floor.

Congress had the opportunity to pass the 12 appropriations bills necessary to keep the government’s doors open, not to mention acting to prevent the $3.8 trillion tax hike set to take effect at the end of the year.  Unfortunately, the leadership of the House and the Senate decided to kick the can down the road for several more weeks, requiring the lame duck session.

It is past time for Washington to start listening to the American public.  There is no doubt: policies the Democrat-controlled Congress has pushed through have left the American people angry.  One way to restore this trust is by passing legislation introduced by Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) and incorporated in the Republican Pledge to America which would require all bills introduced reference the specific provision of the U.S. Constitution which would authorize it.  Such a requirement would limit Washington’s ability to rush suspect legislation through a lame duck session.

Congress also must engage in a bipartisan effort to cut government spending, freeze tax levels, and stop the bailout mentality.

I will continue to ensure transparency and accountability.  A lame duck session of Congress held after an election does neither. The agenda being pushed by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, though stalled, is anything but dead as long as its proponents have an opportunity to force a vote on these job-killing bills after American voters have their say.