Accountability

Leading by Example – I’ve worked to earn the trust of the people of the Space Coast and Treasure Coast by being an example of accountability in government. When it comes to accountability, I believe that Members of Congress must lead by example.

Since being sworn into Congress in 2009, making Congress and Washington more accountable and transparent has been a top priority for me. This builds on the similar steps I took as a member of the Florida Legislature where I kept my office under budget, fought for transparency, and held state agencies accountable by literally writing the book on government accountability with my Activity Based Total Accountability plan (ABTA). ABTA requires state agencies to tell the taxpayers exactly what was accomplished with their tax dollars. (Read more about ABTA here.)

Reforming Congress:  I have made Congressional reform and accountability priorities in my service in Congress.

  • Blocking Congressional Pay Raises – Since I came to Congress in 2009, I have helped support successful efforts to block Congressional pay raises for 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. I also thought it was wrong for Congress to pass a pay raise in 2008. To lead by example, I have given every cent of that pay raise back to the US Treasury each year even though it was approved the year before I was sworn in as a Member of Congress.
  • Ending the Congressional Death Benefit – I introduced legislation to end a generous congressional death benefit.  I believe Members of Congress should purchase their own life insurance like all other Americans and we should end the special payment of one year’s salary to the surviving family when a Member of Congress dies.
  • Cutting My Own Budget by Over $600,000 – I’ve made it a priority to cut my own Congressional office budget and return unspent money to the U.S. Treasury. I also worked to support successful efforts to cut overall Congressional budgets by 5% in 2010 and 6% in 2011. We also froze federal salaries for two years.
  • Ending the Revolving Door Between Congress and Lobbying – I introduced legislation to close the so-called “Daschle Loophole” by instituting a 5-year ban on lobbying by former Members of Congress and senior Congressional staff to limit unfair influence on the legislative process. My legislation also says that if you want to become a lobbyist, you have to forfeit your federal retirement benefits. If you are serving in Congress as a Member or staffer, your focus should be on public service, not how you can use such service as a means to a lucrative lobbying career.

Promoting Transparency: My rule in Congress about passing “Too Big to Read” bills has been “If I can’t read it, my vote is NO”.

  • 3 Day Rule – I introduced legislation in 2009 to require that bills be made available to the public and Members of Congress for at least 3 days before any vote could be held on it. At the beginning of this Congress, the 3 day rule was included in the House Rules for the 112th Congress.
  • Single Issue Voting – In 2009 I filed legislation to encourage single issue voting which would prevent unrelated amendments from being attached to must-pass legislation.
  • Congressional Committee Transparency – The House Financial Services Committee approved my amendment requiring that all Committee votes be posted on the Committee website within 48 hours.
  • Legislative Transparency – I filed an amendment requiring that legislative changes be more transparent by making available to legislators and the public comparative prints so that everyone can more readily understand what changes are being proposed to existing laws.  This type of transparency will bring greater accountability to Washington.
  • Auditing the Federal Reserve – I proudly cosponsored legislation to require an audit of the Federal Reserve. This legislation, which I helped draft, was partially enacted into law in 2010 and now I’m working with like-minded colleagues to get the rest of it approved.

Holding Regulators and Wrong-Doers Accountable: As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I’ve focused on holding regulators accountable for their failures to enforce existing regulations and I’m working to see that they implement new ones fairly. Below are just a few of the areas on which I have focused.

  • I pressed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the massive breakdown that allowed Bernie Madoff’s $70 billion Ponzi scheme to continue despite having all of the evidence.
  • I’ve been a leader in calling for a special prosecutor to investigate MF Global’s collapse, former Senator Jon Corzine’s role in the “misplacement” of over $1.2 billion in client money, and ensure that the money is returned to thousands of small investors.
  • I’ve worked to hold banking regulators accountable for over-regulating and causing the failures of small community banks while applying less regulation to large banks. Small community banks are the life-blood of our local economy and small businesses need access to them.
  • I believe that accountability will help restore public confidence in our financial markets and further protect investors from future abuse and fraudulent activities.