‘More than principled protest’

To the editor:

Upon reading your Jan. 23 editorial, “Ending earmarks,” I thought it would be appropriate to highlight several points about my record on fiscal responsibility and the earmark process.

True earmark reform and balanced budgets are crucial to restoring fiscal discipline in Congress. I continue to support transparency in the federal budget process and have voted for and co-sponsored earmark reform measures.

For this reason I have co-sponsored H.R. 2416, which would establish a commission to conduct a comprehensive review of federal agencies and recommend the elimination or realignment of duplicative, wasteful or outdated programs. I am also a co-sponsor of legislation that would suspend the consideration of any earmarks while a Joint Select Committee studied the use of earmarks in the federal budget process and made recommendations concerning their future use.

Congress should pass additional earmark reforms that promote fairness, scrutiny and accountability. But as we witnessed last year, earmark reform was in name only.

The Democratic majority did everything within its power to avoid the very rules it championed, and passed a bloated, several-thousand-page spending bill that I voted against.

Also during the appropriations process last year, the House of Representatives considered 50 separate amendments to strip out egregious earmarks. I was one of only 16 members of Congress who voted for all 50 amendments.

In fact, the Club for Growth (not one of my staunchest supporters in the past election) has recognized me as one of the most fiscally responsible members of Congress.

Nevadans, and most Americans, are clearly tired of the federal spending, higher taxes and unchecked entitlement growth that contribute to Congress’ financial mess and our rising national debt. As a new member of Congress elected on a platform of change, I share your view that those elected to serve in Congress should be careful stewards of taxpayer funds. I am working to make good on my promise to stand up for fiscal responsibility by voting against bloated spending bills loaded with pork-barrel spending.

However, the solution requires more than principled protests from individual members of Congress. Congress desperately needs to realize where the money in the U.S. Treasury comes from. Real earmark reform is one place to start, and so I will continue supporting measures to institute real fiscal discipline in the system.

Dean Heller



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