“My concern is that Congress has forgotten what its job is.”

Collins Urges Colleagues to Focus on Legislating

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (GA-9) appeared before a breakfast meeting of The Ripon Society yesterday morning, delivering a stirring speech in which he called on his colleagues to forget about politics and focus on legislating, saying that is what the American people elected them to do.

“My concern is that Congress has forgotten what its job is,” he stated. “Our job is to legislate. That is what we are – we’re legislators. And that is what we’re supposed to be doing. Unfortunately, it has become the very antithesis of what we have begun to do. We’ve begun to formulate party lines. We’ve begun to talk about election cycles… That is very concerning to me, because at the end of the day, how do we get stuff done?”

“I would love to line all 435 Members of the House of Representatives up at this microphone and give them 30 seconds to tell me one legislative priority – just one. I’m not even asking for two – just one. And not a position statement – a legislative priority. What can we do to make our laws, our regulations better in this country? It is why I believe that Members are bored. When you have no purpose, when you feel like that all you’re doing is fighting in circles – the same thing in the same news cycle over and over and over again – that’s why we don’t seem to get stuff done.”

First elected to the House in 2012, Collins currently serves as the Ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, where he has established a reputation not only as a common sense conservative who is willing to work across the aisle, but as a results-driven legislator who is willing to take on some of the toughest challenges in town.

“Six years ago, how many of us would have believed that we would have rewritten the copyright system and had The Music Modernization Act actually pass?” he asked, referring to the bipartisan measure he coauthored last year that streamlined the music-licensing process. “Six years ago, they laughed at me – literally. Now the only people who are laughing are the songwriters of the future who will actually be able to get paid and the digital service that will actually be able to play that music and we have our ecosystem that actually works. Is that not what Washington should be about? Is that not what we should do?”

“It’s the art of the possible that is missing in this town right now. The art of the possible tells me that I can look beyond the horizon. The art of the possible tells me that there is something worth getting up for. The art of the possible says, ‘There’s a reason for me to get on that jet and come from Atlanta, and there’s a reason for me to stay here and be separated from the things that I value most in life – my beautiful, wonderful bride of 31 years, and my three children who are growing up. There’s a reason for me to be here.”

Unfortunately, he added, that reason is not always apparent on the panel where he serves as the top Republican.

“What I see unfortunately in Congress, and especially from my position as ranking member on Judiciary Committee, is that we’re not healthy right now,” he said. “We’re not healthy because our focus is not right. Now, I get it that after several years of being out of the majority, the Democrats need to state their positions. I’ve got no problem with that. But at the same time, find places to reach across the aisle. In the first five months, I have reached my hand across the aisle on many occasions – to follow up on criminal justice reform, to find common ground on intellectual property issues – and have gotten nothing except my hand be slapped. That’s not the way this is supposed to be.”

“I believe in leadership. I believe in bringing people around. I believe in getting people invested in something bigger than themselves because when you’re looking up and you’re not looking at your feet, you won’t stumble near as much because your vision is higher. It is time in this city that we raise our gaze. It is time for Republicans to raise our gaze. The people demand it of us.”

Following his remarks, Collins was asked a number of questions, including one about the political environment outside the Washington beltway and what he is hearing back home from the people he represents.

“You know,” the Georgia lawmaker observed, “my bellwether is my barbershop. I’ve got two gentlemen – one in his seventies, one in his eighties. One’s been cutting my hair since I was 12. And they see everybody in the community. It’s a great place. And what they’re talking about is that Joe’s building a new chicken house or somebody else has got a new job. They see the economy’s getting better.”

That said, Collins added, the people he represents also view Washington as part of the problem, not part of the solution – particularly on issues like disaster relief that have a real impact on their lives.

“I have farmers who will never farm again because it’s been over eight, nine months since a hurricane came through South Georgia and they’re bankrupt,” he stated bluntly. “You talk about outside the beltway? They’re fed up with us. They’re tired of us. They don’t want us anymore because we as a body – Republicans and Democrats – help them to go bankrupt. And that’s sad. And we’re still leaving here before Memorial Day without a disaster bill, because we don’t have the foresight to do that. That’s something we’ve got to get.”

To view Collins’ remarks before The Ripon Society’s 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.