Greetings constituents, fellow Floridians, and all Americans across our great land. It is again time for our weekly Congressional update. As I travel throughout the district, I certainly appreciate the feedback on these missives, and even the emails and support from those outside our district who are receiving these reports.
There are those who feel the issues facing America are not threatening, certainly not of immediate concern. As I did my regular Saturday morning run along Fort Lauderdale beach this weekend, I pondered a simple question: “Who is leading America?”
Four days earlier, on Tuesday, we faced a very telling vote in the House of Representatives to approve yet another short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the Federal Government for FY 2011. The previous 111th Congress failed in one of their only true mandates, to develop a budget. We have been operating on these short-term measures since 1 October 2010. I had previously given my support to the CR on 1 March 2010 after we had passed HR 1 in the House of Representatives.
This past Tuesday I voted “Nay” on H.J. Res 48, the second Continuing Resolution. I voted no because in the month of February we spent $223B, although the shortest month of the year, it was the largest ever deficit spending month in United States history. Just as a comparison, President George W. Bush’s biggest annual deficit was $400B. We are basically spending $4-$5B a day. Therefore, the offer of $6B of spending cuts over a three week period was nonsense. Furthermore, the offered cuts were the cuts “preferred” by the Democrats—meaning we did not even put up a fight for what the American people desire.
The measure passed 271-158. 54 Republicans voted “Nay” and from this group we shall have the nucleus to make a principled stand.
The President appointed Vice President Biden as his “budget negotiator,” who then in turn departed the Country… so I repeat the question I was pondering: “Who is leading America?”
Gas prices continue to spike, some of the highest prices ever for this time period in America. Once again, we got a nice speech from the President, but we still do not have a visionary proposal to develop our full spectrum of energy resources in America. Energy independence is a national security issue, an economic issue, and would certainly stimulate job growth in America. We have heard time and time again that this kind of visionary thinking will take too long. Funny thing, I remember hearing back in the late 70s, 80s, and 90s that it would take ten years. Instead I know that we have sent $2B of taxpayer dollars to Brazil for offshore oil exploration…”Who is leading America?”
As I write this morning, my heart pours out to the people of Japan who are enduring an incredible aggregation of natural disasters, an epic earthquake, massive tsunami, and now a potential nuclear disaster. It is the discipline, determination, and faith that will sustain the Japanese people at such a critical time. My prayers go out to them, as well as for our brave men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces who again show their strategic flexibility to operate in the full spectrum of operations, this time lending humanitarian assistance, and exposing themselves to possible high levels of radiation.
As well, my heart goes out to the people of Israel who have endured so much in the way of terrorist attacks, yet continue to be castigated negatively as an occupier. This week, Israel suffered from a Hamas delivered, massive mortar attack emanating from the Gaza strip, seemingly emboldened by the “new” military regime in Egypt. For the first time in 40 years, there has been a recent transiting of Iranian warships through the Suez Canal, potentially delivering weapons. Furthermore, a high level Egyptian military official made a trip to Syria, the same time as United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was visiting Egypt.
However, most reprehensible was the egregious, maniacal, and animalistic attack on a Jewish family, The Fogels. I have yet to hear a statement of condemnation from our highest elected officials, perhaps they are not aware? The group claiming responsibility is the Al Quds Brigade which has ties to Fatah…”Who is leading America?”
Lastly, after some 2-3 weeks of hand wringing, we have decided to assist in combat operations against Libya. My question is simple, what are the objectives and who in Congress was consulted? We have seen entry into operations without a clear objective before; in the Balkans, Somalia and Lebanon. Is there a common denominator? Understand, you cannot conduct air operations without some type of ground coordination. So when will we introduce ground forward air controllers or similar personnel? Who will do the target coordination? Who is our Commander in this new combat zone front which has been opened?
Trust me, no one despises Gaddafi more than I do, but as a former professional military officer, I have concerns about “mission creep.” I believe that at the onset, the right response would have been the same as President Ronald Reagan’s back in the mid 80s to Gaddafi, a response which silenced him for some 30 years.
With all this happening in our country and around globe… “Who Is Leading America?” I presume he’s filling out NCAA College Tournament brackets and traveling to South America, Rio and considers these more important leadership challenges.
America is currently a leaderless, rudderless ship of state being tossed about the tumultuous seas of a volatile and chaotic world, and could soon find herself cast upon the rocks… for we have no one manning the lighthouse of principles. I am not a Navy Man but somehow I will figure out that helm, port, starboard stuff, and do my part to right this ship and set sail to the “Dawn of a New America.”
Highlights of the week:
- Monday, Addressed the League of Educational Awareness of the Holocaust (LEAH) teachers on the East steps of the U.S. Capitol. We also had visits from (3) families from CD-22 who brought their spring break kids along.
- Tuesday, had a visit from my military spiritual mentor, LTC(Ch) Pete Sniffin, who is about to deploy to Afghanistan. One of the Leavenworth 10 families, Michael Leahy, also visited and provided me an update. Also, voted no on H.J. Res 48 Continuing Resolution. Ended the day with an office call with the Jacksonville District Corps of Engineers updating our priority projects in the district.
- Wednesday, both Tuesday and Wednesday had several Congressional hearings, especially armed services. On Weds heard the Afghanistan combat theater update from General Petraeus. We also had a military personnel subcommittee meeting on health systems and defense health program efficiencies. The biggest surprise was a call from a very famous and popular Hollywood conservative actor. The evening wrapped up with the Congressional Black Caucus PAC dinner.
- Thursday, it was St Patrick’s Day and I wore a green tie. I was reunited with an old Army buddy Lt. Colonel Clayton Neal who is now an Army JROTC Commander for Olympic High School in Charlotte NC. I spoke with about 30 incredible future leaders of our Country on the East steps of the U.S. Capitol. I stood alongside my military personnel subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson (R-SC) as we did a press conference speaking out against the appointment of former Maine Governor Balducci as the new “Military Healthcare Czar.” We had two armed services hearings; one on military personnel and the other on Law of War detention and GITMO detainees….the administration does not get it!
- Friday, I had the distinct honor of addressing the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, a crowd of more than 600 people. I shared the stage with a true American Statesman, Congressman E. Clay Shaw, who was presented with a Lifetime of Service Achievement award. Also on Friday, I addressed the Tax Council symposium at The Breakers and visited the Cralle Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment facility in Delray Beach to learn how their medical technology has been helpful in treating Traumatic Brain Injury.
It is my honor to serve you all!
Steadfast and Loyal,