Fleischmann: Budget passage is right step
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Dec 22, 2013 | 436 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Chuck Fleischmann
Chuck Fleischmann
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Passing a budget for the first time since he has been in Congress was the greatest accomplishment for the legislative body this year, U.S. House of Representatives 3rd District Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said.

“This is by no means a perfect budget, but it is a step in the right direction,” Fleischmann said.

He said passing a budget gets Congress “back to a constitutional framework of getting our job done.”

Fleischmann said the 16 days of government shutdown showed members of Congress the budget was significantly needed. Passing the budget will keep the government safe from shutdown for another two years.

Fleischmann said Congress has also been taking a close look at Iran in regards to nuclear weaponry.

“The administration and the international community have not been stringent enough on working to keep Iran from having the capacity for building a nuclear weapon,” Fleischmann said.

He said this would be one of the biggest international issues facing Congress in the coming year.

Stateside, Fleischmann sees removing federal regulations on business owners, whether large or small, to help them operate more smoothly as one highlight of 2014. He said Affordable Care Act issues will also be a focus of 2014.

The congressman said he would have liked to see the health care plan defunded or repealed during this year’s legislative session.

He noted new industry in Bradley County has been a positive talking point to federal leaders.

“Bradley County is doing the things necessary to poise itself for a tremendous future,” Fleischmann said.

Another bill that could have a great impact on the 3rd Congressional District is a bill on water resources that has passed the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill seeks to reform the way water locks are funded and maintained.

A lock on the Chickamauga River that serves waterways through East Tennessee is in need of repair and has 300 monitoring devices on it.

Fleischmann said construction had started on a second lock, but work was later halted.

“The problem was the Inland Waterway Trust fund, which governed the funding of this lock and several other locks and dams in America,” he said.

He said the way funds were distributed through the trust “was fundamentally broken.”

“Years ago the way they would go around this flawed process was through the earmarking process. Well, there has been a moratorium on earmarks since I have been in Congress, so that highlighted the frailty of this trust fund,” Fleischmann said.

In working on the bill, Fleischmann discussed the issue with members of the House transportation committee and members of the U.S. Senate. The bill was passed by a 417-3 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. A similar bill is now in conference in the Senate.

“The goal of that bill will be to reform the trust fund to allow locks like Chickamauga to retain their priority, hopefully, and ultimately to be getting much-needed funds to this lock,” Fleischmann said.

Changes in district lines drastically changed the look of the 3rd District served by Fleischmann. He said he has spent time getting to know local leaders in the new 3rd District.

“It has been a process of the new 3rd District getting to know me,” Fleischmann said.

As a part of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations, Fleischmann serves on the Energy and Water, Homeland Security and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcommittees.

On the Homeland Security subcommittee, Fleischmann was involved in discussions and legislation focused on protecting the United States from threats. The committee also worked with the U.S. Coast Guard on discussions of prioritizing their budget.

“We are seeing the discretionary side of the budget to continue to be shrunk due to the fact that the mandatory side of spending has continued, and will continue to increase. We are going to have to be very good stewards of the federal dollars we choose to appropriate,” Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann said the mandatory spending options in the budget need to be re-evaluated to address the nation’s debt issues.