As we approach a new year and a new Democrat-led House of Representatives, there will be many areas of disagreement, but we do not have to face two years of stagnation. There are several issues that can, and should, lead to bipartisan legislation to benefit our country and Southwest Florida.
Over the last two years I have worked continuously to develop a bipartisan commitment on Everglades restoration and water quality. When I got here I began immediately to work on getting the funds appropriated to complete repairs of the Herbert Hoover Dike and to expedite completion of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects, especially the EAA Reservoir. This was my top priority in running for this position and remains so now.
In my first 30 days in office I wrote a letter to President Trump asking him to fulfill his campaign commitment to fund Everglades Restoration and CERP projects. This letter was co-signed by all 27 members, Democrat and Republican, of our Florida delegation. This was the first time that our delegation had come together to unanimously support the Everglades and Okeechobee Watershed. Subsequently we have been successful in getting $1.1 billion (more than the previous 8 years combined) to complete repairs to the Dike many years ahead of schedule and commence construction of the EAA Reservoir, which will permit more water to be sent south of Lake Okeechobee instead of being released into the Caloosahatchee River.
Another area where we can work on a bipartisan basis is to enact a permanent ban on offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico. The existing moratorium, adopted in 2006, expires in 2022 and needs to be made permanent. It is critical for the future of Florida and our tourism-based economy that offshore drilling in the Eastern Gulf be stopped for good.
I also reached across the aisle on prescription drug pricing and was deeply concerned to learn that pharma had been shielded from competition in the pricing of Medicare part B and part D drugs. Together with Peter Welch (D-Vt), I introduced the Drug Price Transparency Act to have the Department of Health and Human Services study linking Medicare Part B and D drug prices to the average price of these drugs in the countries which comprise the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) where the same drugs are often cheaper than in the United States.
This would establish a global price ceiling and protect American citizens from overpaying for the same drugs. I have also introduced the bipartisan FAIR Drug Pricing Act, which would require drug companies to give notice and justification for raising the price of a drug more than 10% at one time. Finally, I introduced the Thomas Jefferson Public Service Act, which would create term limits without a constitutional amendment. Under this proposal, after 6 terms in the House or 2 in the Senate, Members of Congress will receive only $1 per year in compensation, effectively implementing term limits – no constitutional amendment necessary.
Critics say this will create a Congress dominated by rich people, but this is a specious argument; 87% of all Americans want term limits. If enacted, a culture of capitated service would become pervasive and anyone who would deviate from it would be readily cast aside. The American people want and deserve a government that
works. Each of the above-mentioned areas, along with others such as transportation and infrastructure, have wide ranging support across all segments of our society, and it is up to us to find a way to get results.
Francis Rooney is the U.S. Representative for Florida’s 19th congressional district. He is the Vice-Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce. He previously served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2008.
Contact Our Offices:
Lee County Office
1039 S.E. 9th Place • Suite 308
Cape Coral, FL 33990
Collier County Office
3299 Tamiami Trail East • Suite 105
Naples, FL 34112
Washington, DC Office
120 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515