Honoring Reagan, visiting district fill week

Published 9:00 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2011

By U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.

This week, the nation celebrated Ronald Wilson Reagan’s 100th birthday. We remember this patriotic leader not only as the Governor of California and our 40th President, but also as a loving father, husband and grandfather. The admiration he felt for his family was deep and strong—rivaled only by his adoration for freedom, liberty, and our great nation.

As the “Great Communicator,” he captivated so many of us, leading the nation with charisma, humor, and wisdom. His faith—both in God and the American People—were the defining principles of his political life.

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President Reagan was famously optimistic. He had the ability to envision the world as he wished it to be, and the courage to work to make it so. His graceful and encouraging words led our country through turbulent times and lifted our spirits in difficult moments. He taught an entire generation to believe in America again. As we note this important milestone, we should learn from President Reagan’s legacy, reaffirming our belief in American Exceptionalism and our nation’s place as a beacon of hope and freedom in the world.

Florida Judge’s Healthcare Ruling:

Last week U.S. District Judge Robert Vinson in Florida ruled that the job-killing health care reform law is unconstitutional. This monumental decision is a victory for patients, small business owners, and all those who believe that the Constitution remains the supreme law of the land.

Judge Vinson’s decision in the Florida case follows a similar ruling last month in Virginia. Each court took issue with the law’s individual mandate, which would require that Americans purchase government approved health care plans or pay a penalty. I am pleased the court recognized that there is a difference between regulating commerce – allowed under the Constitution – and requiring an American citizen to purchase specific goods or services. Clearly, our forefathers never envisioned a federal government so powerful that it could compel citizens to enter the marketplace against their will. A law that includes such a mandate should not stand.

I am hopeful that appellate courts affirm these decisions and overturn the law. More immediately, we are working in Congress to defund the agencies that would implement these programs, and to replace the law with market-based reforms that will truly lower costs and increase access to quality care for all Americans.

District Work Week:

Last week, I had the privilege to travel throughout the Second Congressional District during my first District Work Week as your Representative.

As you may know, the first order of business in the new Congress was to vote on House rules that increased accountability and transparency in Congress. That initiative included the adoption of a new House calendar that increases the time that representatives are available to meet in their home districts.

In my first District Work Week, I attended more than 20 meetings and events throughout the district. A common theme during the week was keeping America strong and competitive.

On Tuesday, I toured Frontier Yarns’ spinning mills in Wetumpka, which employs 125 people. While there, company leaders and industry representatives led a discussion about the challenges affecting the domestic textile industry and the need to stay competitive in the global economy. One of my highest priorities is to fight for policies that will promote economic growth and the creation of new jobs. Right now, economic growth in our area is too slow and unemployment is too high.

Hearing directly from my constituents is extremely important, and I was pleased to learn about the impact that certain proposals in Congress would have on investment and job creation at facilities like Frontier Mills. Thanks to the National Council of Textile Organizations for arranging the tour and to the people of Frontier Yarns for hosting me.

American competitiveness was also the theme at an event held last week with the Clean Fuels Coalition and Inland Food Stores in Enterprise. While there, we celebrated the opening of the first two E85 stations in southeast Alabama.

Sixty percent of the oil we consume every day comes from foreign nations, many of which are hostile to basic American ideals of freedom and individual liberty. When oil prices spike, foreign nations benefit while America suffers.

To correct this, I believe in an “all of the above” approach to energy: we need to increase domestic production of oil and natural gas, explore viable renewable energy alternatives, and rely more heavily on clean, reliable, and safe nuclear power. The opening of E85 station is one small but noteworthy step in that process, and it was a privilege to join with Enterprise Mayor Kenneth Boswell and other area leaders to mark the an occasion.

To keep America competitive in a changing economy, we must make sure that future generations have access to a quality education. As a member of the House Education and Workforce Committee, I will be involved in the drafting, debate, and consideration of important education legislation that will affect students, teachers, and parents throughout the district.

That’s why I have committed to visiting every school district in southeast Alabama to hear directly from our educators about the challenges they face—and the solutions that will truly help our children learn.

Thank you to everyone who was able to meet with me during the District Work Week.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., represents the Second Congressional District, which includes Pike County.