As Congress returns to Washington, D.C. after its two-week recess, it faces several urgent challenges that provide opportunities for practical and principled leadership. The time for courageous conviction and innovative leadership sacrificially serving all of the American people is now.
In the coming days, there are a myriad of major policy moments confronting conservatives on Capitol Hill. Whether the issue is the passage of a government funding bill that prevents a government shutdown, or the critical necessity of passing an ObamaCare repeal and replacement bill through the Budget reconciliation process, the time for leadership is now.
While leftists are prepared to oppose virtually every initiative proposed by those in control of both the executive and legislative branches of the federal government, and while some leftists appear to embrace the possibility of a government shutdown as well as the limitless expansion of abortion rights, House and Senate leadership ought to be guided by well-defined principles and paramount policy objectives. Now is the time to demonstrate they can do more than spearhead an effective opposition. The challenges of the times and the needs of the American people demand that they now govern.
Given the national security threats the nation faces—North Korea, Iran, Russia, Syria and the ongoing terror threats from enemies that have declared war on us—bold leadership that prevents a government shutdown is essential. No matter how difficult the tasks which lie before us, it is manifest that effective conservative governance requires the ability to craft a spending deal that funds the government and, in particular, the military in the vexing days ahead. As the April 28 deadline approaches, it is evident that a government shutdown would fail to serve either the national interest or our national security.
Prioritizing our national defense and our nation’s security requires funding a robust Defense Department and Justice Department coupled with an enhanced border security effort that eradicates threats facing our nation, whether they be jihadists, drug cartels, or other threats to our homeland. Enhancing our nation’s border security must be a priority, focusing on every part of our border. This should focus on the most effective methods to secure and control the border, be it a wall, more personnel, drone technology, or more.
Turning to the need for true health care reform, effective conservative leadership requires devotion to principles and policies. Foremost among conservative principles and policies is the protection of the inherent dignity of every single human life. After being elected on a platform that advances the pro-life agenda, it is absolutely essential to defund all organizations that perform abortions, cognizant of the fact that the alleged choice between being pro-woman and pro-life represents a false dichotomy richly steeped in falsehoods. Defunding Planned Parenthood and other similar organizations ought to be part of an absolute foundation for any ObamaCare repeal and replacement effort.
Second, consistent with the ACLJ’s agenda for reform that focuses on the advancement of a patient-centered, consumer-driven program that emphasizes choice and competition, any heath care repeal and replacement effort must advance liberty, including the evisceration of ObamaCare’s individual and employer mandates.
Third, heath care reform efforts as constrained by the Budget Reconciliation Rules applicable to the Senate should advance the principles of federalism by enabling individual states to pursue and receive relief from the burdensome regulations of ObamaCare. For example, States should receive expanded flexibility to opt-out of ObamaCare regulations such as (1) the current “community rating” system and (2) “minimum essential” insurance requirements. These changes would (A) allow insurers to price plans based on the age and health of the beneficiary, something that ObamaCare allows only within a restricted range, and (B) enable insurers to write policies that provide fewer services and thus lower costs of such policies and raising the range of choices for the American people. Taken together, waivers should provide greater choice and lower insurance costs for many individuals. Passage of an ObamaCare repeal and replacement bill meeting these standards constitutes Phase I. In combination with Phase II and Phase III involving regulatory change and future legislative efforts designed to allow insurers to sell policies across state lines, you have the framework for a promising foundation for improving the health insurance market in the United States.
Leadership requires hard choices and difficult questions. Meeting this test constitutes the first step in allowing the American people to reclaim their government in a way that increases both freedom and human flourishing.
It’s time to get to work. It’s time to lead.
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