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 each and every year since the day I took the oath of office through today. 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 U.S. Treasury each year even though it was approved the year before I was sworn in as a Member of Congress.
- Cutting My Own Budget by Over $1 million to the U.S. Treasury– As your elected representative, I believe in being responsible with the federal budget and that begins with my own office budget. 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 launch a lucrative lobbying career.
Promoting Congressional Transparency: My rule in Congress about passing “Too Big to Read” bills has been “If I can’t read it, my vote is NO” and that applies no matter who is in leadership.
- 3 Day Rule– One of the first bills I introduced in Congress was legislation requiring 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. The 3-day rule was included in the House Rules for the 112th and every subsequent session of Congress.
- Single Issue Voting– I have continued to file legislation to require Congress to adopt single issue voting to 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. Other Congressional Committees have adopted similar transparency reforms.
- Legislative Transparency – The House adopted my proposal and incorporated it into the Rules of the House to require that all changes to legislation throughout the legislative process be clearly shown so that the public and all Members of Congress are able easily see any changes and better understand the impact of such changes. The House is now moving forward to implement this provision.
- Auditing the Federal Reserve– I proudly cosponsored legislation to require a full 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.
- Combating Financial Fraud – 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 and supported appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate MF Global’s collapse and former Senator Jon Corzine’s role in the “misplacement” of over $1.2 billion in client money.
- Holding Bank Regulators Accountable – I’ve worked to hold banking regulators accountable for over-regulating community financial institutions which unnecessarily cut off loans to small businesses, caused the failure of community banks and has led to greater consolidation and larger banks than before the 2008 financial crisis. Small community banks are the life-blood of our local economy and small businesses need access to them.
- Tackling Federal Agency Abuse of Power – Spurred several Inspector General investigations of abuse by federal regulators that used regulators to eliminate competition, raised costs for the Federal government and caused American companies to lose business to foreign-owned businesses.
- Protecting You From Wall Street Bailouts – When Speaker Pelosi and President Obama passed the Dodd-Frank bill, they inserted a provision that allowed Washington to “tax” your home and auto insurance in order to bail out large Wall Street Banks. I led the effort to repeal that law and protect you from being forced to bail them out next time.