At a morning coffee hosted by the Farragut Chamber of Commerce today, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said Congress must “change the way we do business in Washington.”
“When Americans look at Congress, they’re disgusted by what they see: constant partisan sniping and runaway spending. I don’t blame them,” said Alexander, speaking to approximately 100 business leaders from Farragut and the surrounding area. “That’s why I’ve made it a priority to set a different tone and to work across party lines to solve problems and stop wasteful Washington spending.”
Alexander noted three ways he is reaching out to colleagues in both parties to address national challenges:
1. Bipartisan Breakfasts — Alexander joined with Senator Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT) to host weekly breakfasts that offer senators from both parties the opportunity discuss the challenges of the day in a private, relaxed setting. The meetings have been attended by as many as 40 senators at one time which, Alexander noted, is “more than the number of senators who attended any one hearing with General Petraeus.”
2. America COMPETES Act — Alexander joined with Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN) in managing floor debate and passing this bipartisan legislation – which President Bush signed into law this August – to invest in scientific research and math and science education. Alexander said, “This $34 billion legislation will help America keep its brainpower advantage so we don’t wake up 20 years from now and wonder how countries like China and India have passed us by.”
3. Bipartisan Iraq Legislation — Alexander joined with Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) in advancing legislation to implement the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which Alexander said would “get our troops out of the combat business and into the support, training and equipping business as soon as we honorably can.”
He also said Congress must stop “wasteful Washington spending,” noting that the mounting national debt now stands at more than $30,000 for every American.
“It’s not enough just to cut a few programs here and there,” said Alexander. “We have to fundamentally change the way we do business in Washington when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars.” Alexander said he supports several proposals that aim to bring spending under control, including:
1. Presidential Line Item Veto – to give the President the ability to cut individual pork barrel projects from congressional spending bills.
2. 2-Year Budgeting – Congress would pass a two-year budget during the first year and use the second year to take a good look at what federal programs are working and what ones are not – and either fix or stop paying for broken programs.
3. Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action - a bipartisan effort to review all aspects of the government’s long-term financial condition and find solutions to protect critical programs while keeping costs down which would be fast-tracked through Congress and guaranteed an up or down vote.