“We need to be leading with free market, innovative solutions that win hearts and minds and make sure that America continues to lead.”

By on February 28, 2020 in Featured News, News

Burgess, McMorris Rodgers, and Latta Discuss Work of Energy & Commerce Committee

WASHINGTON, DC – Three Republican leaders of the Energy & Commerce Committee appeared yesterday before a breakfast discussion of The Ripon Society, where they shared their thoughts about the committee’s 2020 agenda and laid out their vision for the panel should the GOP recapture control of the House later this year.

The leaders included: Congressman Michael Burgess, who represents the 26th District of Texas; Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who represents the 5th District of Washington; and, Congressman Bob Latta, who represents the 5th District of Ohio and kicked off the discussion by talking about the unique focus of the Energy & Commerce Committee and how panel members try to take a longer view of things.

“I like to say this about our Committee,” the Ohio lawmaker began. “We’re looking over the horizon five to ten years from now. When we’re doing legislation and when regulations come up, we’ve got to make sure that we’re not looking in the rear view mirror or looking just at the end of the car as we go down the road.”

Latta was elected to the House in 2006 and currently serves as the Republican leader of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. In this role, he has led the effort to reduce the number of robocalls people receive, and helped shepherd through legislation that was approved overwhelmingly by the House last year to help achieve this goal.

“The American people are afraid to pick up their phones,” he stated. “You have seniors being scammed for about $38 billion a year. And of that $38 billion, a lot of it’s done over the phone.”

One other area Latta said he has been working on is making sure rural communities are connected to the internet.

“We have to make sure we have broadband service,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re in farming or financial work or in health care. We also want to make sure our kids going to school can use their laptops and have access to broadband that 95% of the country does have.”

In addition to making sure rural communities are connected to the internet, Latta said he also wanted to make sure America remains the leader in the next generation of wireless technology.

“We want to win that race to 5G,” he declared. “We don’t want the Chinese to be the ones who are leading the world in that. We want to do it right here in America.”

McMorris Rodgers agreed.

“As I think about our future as a country,” she said, “the whole issue of global dominance is at stake. And the issues in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are really the ones that are going to define our future — energy, healthcare, technology, whether or not we beat China, and whether or not we continue to lead the world.”

McMorris Rodgers was elected to the House in 2004 and currently serves as the Republican leader of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce. In this role, McMorris Rodgers has been a long-time champion of dams and hydropower as a source of renewable, clean, reliable, affordable energy, and authored legislation that was approved in 2017 to modernize and streamline the hydropower relicensing process and encourage the development and investment in clean, renewable hydroelectric energy.

“My goal has been to advance a pro-free market, pro-consumer, pro-innovation agenda,” she said of her work in this and other areas. “I don’t believe you have to sacrifice one for the other. That’s been the American way. That’s been our history — one of promoting American ingenuity and innovation to solve problems.”

“There’s such a contrast right now in visions. On the left, you see Medicare-for-All and the Green New Deal. It’s really a socialist agenda. This is the time that we need to be leading with free market, innovative solutions that win hearts and minds and make sure that America continues to lead.”

Burgess concurred.

“Stop and think about why Republicans should be involved in healthcare policy,” the Texas lawmaker stated. “Think about the differences between the two parties. Who values the sanctity of the individual? Who cherishes the supremacy of the state?

“Clearly, it’s the Republican side that in my opinion will deliver more cures, more opportunities, and more choices for people. On the Democrat side, it’s a winnowing down of your choices. I’ll tell you from somebody who practiced medicine, you don’t want fewer choices — you want more.”

Burgess spent nearly 30 years as a doctor before his election to the House in 2003. He currently serves as the Republican leader on the Subcommittee on Health, where one of his priorities has been to inject common sense into the health care debate.

“We had a dreadful, dreadful markup a little less than six months ago on a bill called H.R. 3, which was to control pharmaceutical prices,” he recounted. “They said they wanted a negotiation. But it was actually a hostage taking. A 95% excise tax on the gross revenues of pharmaceutical companies would actually eliminate them as American businesses. We can’t do that. And now, six months later, what are we doing? We’re looking at the coronavirus and we’re looking at those same companies and asking, ‘Can you get us an antiviral a little quicker?’

“It does seem like there’s some on the horizon, and this would be great news. Can you get us a vaccine a little quicker? And it looks like there may be some on the horizon. Again, that’s great news. What about those monoclonal antibodies that people talk about? Well, they’re not going to come from somewhere else. They’re going to come from research and development and pharmaceutical companies.”

These legislative flare-ups aside, Burgess did point to a number of areas where common ground has been reached, and expressed optimism that similar agreements can be reached down the road.

“We did the first standalone sickle cell bill that I can ever remember,” he observed. “President Trump signed that into law in 2018. We also did the first standalone maternal mortality bill — Jaime Herrera Beutler’s bill — signed into law the last Congress. We can build on those successes, and indeed we should.”

To view the remarks of Burgess, McMorris Rodgers, and Latta before The Ripon Society’s breakfast discussion yesterday morning, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.

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