Reps. Shimkus and Allen
April 23, 1997
in this forum:
How much work is done in committee? Have Republicans lost their spirit? Is Congress obsessed with scandals? Is there too much
grandstanding in Congress?
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A question from Shirley Phillips of Bangor, ME:
I am curious about your committee work. In the past Congress did so much of its work in committee, but last Congress the floor of the House was where a lot of bills were amended and drafted. Now it seems that committees are running the show again. Is this true? What affect has that had on the pace of Congress?
Representative Shimkus responds:
Most of the work of Congress does occur in its committees and in fact the most detailed analysis occurs in a committee's subcommittee. However, because I am a new member, and therefore not a member of the lastCongress, it is difficult for me to compare committee actions to those of the previous Congress. I can tell you that the Commerce Committee, of which I am a member, has been working aggressively on an electricity reform bill which will reduce your power bill. Another priority of the committee is to reform the federal environmental clean-up statute called "Superfund" and get money into clean-ups, instead of the pockets of lawyers fighting over liability.
Just last week the Commerce Committee passed out an excellent environmental piece of legislation titled the "Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Funds Amendments Act of 1997" (H.R. 688). This legislation will give more money to states to clean-up leaking petroleum tanks under your local gas station. H.R. 688 also gives state officials, who are closer to the problems than Washington bureaucrats, more say in how the money is spent. This bill is a great example of how the Congress, when working in a bipartisan fashion, can really do great things for this nation.
Representative Allen responds:
The last Congress, the 104th, was very active. The "Republican Revolution" had taken hold with the Republican majority in both the House and Senate committed to pass the Contract with America in the first 100 days. Given that schedule, the Republican leadership in the House often by-passed committees and took proposed bills directly to the floor. That is not the practice in the 105th Congress, which is more inclined to work through committees.
As a member of the Committee on National Security, I am working to ensure that our national security is strong and that our men and women who serve in the armed forces are ready to meet any challenge whether it be armed conflict or a peace-keeping mission. In addition, I am concerned about the defense-related industries in our state.
I also serve on the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, which oversees the federal government and its implementation of programs. I serve on the Subcommittee on Human Resources. Many of us are trying to improve the quality of health care for approximately forty million uninsured Americans - ten million of whom are children. The lack of health insurance is critical for us to address as a nation. I have joined the Task Force on Children's Health. One of my top priorities is to pass legislation that will provide health care coverage to children. It is unconscionable that as a nation we do not provide accessible and affordable medical care to the most vulnerable group in our society.