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Guest Column by U.S. Rep. Mark Walker: As promised, I’ve been listening to you

May 19, 2015
In The News

I made a promise from the start that I would listen to the needs and priorities of our district central to my decisions. I believe this is a key ingredient in providing the most effective representation.

Putting words to action, I held a district-wide listening tour, being sure to visit all 10 counties in North Carolina’s Sixth District within my first 100 days in office. These meetings were a chance for me to give an update on my work in Washington. More importantly, they were an opportunity for me to hear your concerns, discuss the challenges facing our community and how Congress can address them head-on.

I heard two very clear challenges on the listening tour that our rural counties are facing — reducing EPA’s regulatory stronghold and improving access to rural broadband.

As so many of you may have experienced, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to intrude into the lives and pockets of hardworking taxpayers. I am proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Stop EPA Overregulation of Rural Americans, which will eliminate EPA’s 344-page rule that banned the production and sale of nearly all wood-burning stoves. Additionally, the House just passed legislation prohibiting EPA’s “Waters of the U.S.” rule that would have greatly expanded the federal control of land and water and had devastating effects on our farmers and small businesses.

Local investments, here in the district, lead to more jobs and opportunities for all. We need to make sure we are giving our citizens the tools necessary to compete in a 21st century economy. One of the most important investments we can make is to preserve and strengthen affordable internet access, especially in the most rural parts of our country.
I am proud to co-sponsor the Permanent Internet Tax Freedom Act. This bill is vital in ensuring Americans can maintain easy and affordable access to the Internet and prevents local municipalities from imposing additional taxes on Internet access. Additionally, I will look for ways to build up our infrastructure so more North Carolinians have broadband access.

A common theme also emerged on our listening tour — North Carolinians are frustrated with Washington. I share your frustrations. In fact, it was a motivating factor for me to engage in the political process. As a father of three, I’ve become troubled about their future and believe we must rein in Washington’s out-of-control debt. Already, we have made great strides in reducing government spending and waste.

We have passed the first entitlement reform in nearly two decades — strengthening Medicare for seniors, saving taxpayers an estimated $230 billion in the long-term and permanently eliminating the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) which has plagued Congress since 2003 and cost taxpayers $169.5 billion.
Congress has also passed a budget for the first time in six years.

This is a big deal. The budget is more than just numbers — it expresses Congress’ guiding principles. It forces Congress to confront Washington’s fiscal policy and sets the parameters of what Congress can spend.

Additionally, this budget cuts spending by $5.3 billion dollars and balances within nine years. In contrast, the President’s proposed budget raises taxes, increases spending and never balances. As we go through the budget appropriations process, I will continue to fight to eliminate waste and cut spending, while ensuring that critical programs receive the support they need.

I am so grateful to have spent time with all of you — hearing your concerns first-hand is crucial as I conduct my work in Washington. I hope you can see that I am spending my time championing a government that works for you, not Washington.

U.S. Rep. Mark Walker is serving his first term in Congress and represents North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District.