Putting Congress to work
By: Rep. Pete Olson
As political pundits continue to divine what this election cycle means for America, Congress must get to work. Harry Reid may try one last ditch attempt to ram through some job killing, anti-growth bills as he departs as Senate Majority Leader, but the House will fight him every step of the way.
One thing the American people made very clear on Election Day is that they expect Congress to do our job. As we look ahead to a GOP controlled Congress, here a few things we should tackle immediately to help get our nation back on track:
Approve the Keystone XL pipeline - this is truly a no brainer. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton approved Keystone XL TWICE, a project that will safely continue to transport oil to the US and create shovel ready jobs for tens of thousands of American workers. The Senate always had the votes to pass it, but Harry Reid, protecting President Obama's left flank, refused to bring it to the floor. The House again passed it last week, and the Senate should approve Keystone XL as soon as possible and send it to the president. This project has been delayed for six years. It's past time to approve Keystone XL.
Restore the 40-hour work week - one of the many failures of Obamacare was the dramatic change of the definition of full-time employment from a 40-hour week to a 30-hour week. A recent study concluded that 2.6 million Americans â€“ mostly young, female, low-income earners and those without a college degree â€“ are at the highest risk of having their hours and wages cut thanks to this 30-hour rule. That's why I worked closely with my House colleague Rep. Todd Young to draft a bill to restore the 40-hour work week. It passed by a large, bipartisan margin in the House earlier this year. This change in definition forces employers to reduce part-time hours, hurting the income of Americans struggling to make ends meet. There is also bipartisan support in the Senate to restore the 40-hour week and I will urge passage of this bill as soon as possible.
Beyond Keystone XL, Congress must act to protect our nation's energy reliability. Part of that fight is ensuring that environmental rules issued by EPA are technologically achievable and economically feasible. Setting extreme benchmarks that shut down critical power plants and hurt our economy helps no one. During emergencies that stretch the limits of our power supply, we need federal laws that allow power plants to keep running. To address this, I drafted legislation to fix a glitch in federal law that forces industry to choose which federal law they must break - a DOE emergency order to maintain power or environmental laws that expose them to citizen lawsuits. My legislation passed with bipartisan, unanimous support on the House floor twice and has support in the Senate. As we look to address energy reliability, this critical fix should be included in any energy reliability votes we take in the new Congress.
Last but certainly not least, the House will use every tool at our disposal to block any effort by President Obama to circumvent Congress and the Constitution to grant amnesty to undocumented immigrants. We can't properly address immigration - until and unless - we secure our borders. We must not repeat the mistakes made in 1986 at the expense of protecting our borders.
These issues should be addressed immediately. The American people deserve a government that works for them - empowering the private sector to create jobs, ensuring a reliable and affordable supply of energy and protecting our nation's borders. I will continue to fight to make sure these common sense reforms become law.
Pete Olson represents the 22nd District of Texas in the U.S. House of Representatives. The 22nd Districts includes all or part of Brazoria, Fort Bend and Harris counties.