“To succeed at legislating, one does have to do more than satisfy the most extreme in the crowd.”

Walden Discusses Agenda for the 116th Congress & the Need to Resolve the Current Shutdown Debate

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (OR-2) appeared before a meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday morning, delivering remarks about the upcoming agenda of the 116th Congress and some of his key accomplishments as Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Committee over the past two years.

“We had a very productive two years,” the Oregon lawmaker stated. “We passed over 160 measures. More than 93% of them achieved bipartisan support on the House floor, and probably half of them passed unanimously. We reauthorized agencies and programs that had not gone through that process sometimes in decades.

“You’ve heard about RAY BAUM’S ACT – it’s been 28 years since the FCC was last reauthorized. We also reauthorized the Safe Drinking Water Act and Brownfields legislation that have been decades or more since they were reviewed. We modernized the drug and medical device approval process at the FDA. We got rid of therapy caps for Medicare patients, and opened the hearing aid market to competition.

“Most importantly, we tackled the opioid epidemic in America, where more people die from opioid overdose than in traffic accidents. We approved more than 60 individual pieces of legislation through the Committee and on the House floor that we eventually bundled up into one bill, which became law last fall. Seldom in this job do you have the opportunity to say your work will literally save lives. This legislation will do that. It will help save lives.”

Walden took the reins of the Energy & Commerce Committee in January of 2017. As Chairman, he noted that he was able to establish a good working relationship with the panel’s ranking Democrat, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (NJ-6), and expressed hope that the good relationship will continue with Pallone taking the gavel of the Committee this year.

“Frank and I have worked pretty well together, and our staffs do as well,” Walden said. “We fought on the things where we disagreed — we fought hard at times. But we also worked together to empower our members and pass legislation to solve America’s problems. The proof is in the product — again, with over 93% of those bills achieving bipartisan support in the House.”

The optimism about his relationship with Pallone aside, Walden was also realistic about the goals of the incoming Democratic majority and what the members of the opposing party may push to achieve in 2019.

“Look,” Walden stated bluntly, “bold, new majorities overreach. We did, and they will. This is especially true in wave years like 2018, with 63 — I think it is — New Democrats. They will definitely have this problem, especially with the progressive/socialist wing of their party. They’ll have to satisfy their hardcore base. So what does that mean? It means that they have to take quick action on things like Net Neutrality, the Green New Deal, and Medicare for All, or their base will go into complete meltdown.”

Noting that he also thinks the Democrats will focus on drug pricing, Walden expressed hope that the new majority will follow the course he set as Chairman over the past two years.

“I hope the Democrats will continue our work to identify the cost drivers throughout the healthcare industry,” he said, “because what people care about most is what it actually costs them out-of-pocket as well as getting access. We identified problems with the 340B program, and we’re prepared to look at every sector of the industry to shine light in dark spaces of medical costs and bring about real change for consumers. But that may not be enough for the Democrat Left.”

In that regard, Walden said he fully expects some on the Left to focus more on investigating the President than legislating and finding solutions to the problems that the American people face.

“I fully anticipate the Democrats will devote enormous resources to investigating anything and everything Trump,” he declared. “In this case, they now have the subpoena authority to back up their efforts. But these investigations can drag on for years, and the Administrations of both parties know how to batten down the hatches and slow-walk responses to requests, demands, and subpoenas. ..”

“Meanwhile, the American people will want results. If the Democrats yield too much to their progressive activists, then how will their grand plans ever make it through the Republican Senate or across the President’s desk? You need to legislate and enact laws. To succeed at legislating, one does have to do more than satisfy the most extreme in the crowd.

“If they go too far, 2020 might look a lot like 2010. After all, some 33 Democrats are now in seats that President Trump won. And while the Democrats did a marvelous job at recruiting candidates, most rode the wave named ‘check and balance.’ They’re going to need legislative results — not government shutdowns.”

Following his remarks, Walden took a number of questions, including one about the shutdown and who the key players are in the debate.

“It gets down to three players,” the Oregon Republican observed. “And they are the President of the United States, the Democrat Leader of the Senate, and the new Speaker of the House. At the end of the day, you’ve got to get 60 votes in the Senate, and you have to get a majority in the House. I think it really gets down to that.

“And then who’s going to yield? Donald Trump, Chuck Schumer, or Nancy Pelosi? So we may be in this for a while. Now, I would just say that big countries — big governments — need to be able to get their budgets done and keep their agencies operating. And I hope we can get to a day when that occurs — whoever’s in charge — so we can deal with the real public policy issues facing our country.”

To view Walden’s remarks before The Ripon Society breakfast discussion yesterday morning, please click on the link below:

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.