McMorris Rodgers at Heritage: How Congress Can Lead to Restore the People’s Voice

Jul 19, 2019

This week, Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) participated in the Heritage Foundation’s event on restoring federalism and returning power back to states and communities.

Cathy is a leading voice in Congress and a champion for the conservative principles that promote individual liberty and limited government. She is leading on initiatives like the Unauthorized Spending Accountability Act (USA Act) for the People’s House to restore trust and confidence in representative government. The USA Act requires Congress to review, rethink, and possibly eliminate government programs running on autopilot.

CLICK HERE or the photo below to watch her full remarks with Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee Rob Bishop (R-UT).


“The [last] Congress rolled back more than a dozen bills and major rules that had been enacted in the previous administration. The [Trump] administration was rolling back 22 regulations for every one [in 2017].”  

“Under President Obama we had seen a record number of major rules that had come out of the administration. [These rules] had the force of law but had never been voted upon or approved by the elected representatives of the people. So that was really important, and lifting the regulatory burden was a promise that was kept. It also was key in the economic growth and the booming economy that we have today.”


“There is still a lot more work to be done. Especially when you look at Congress, and the House of Representatives in particular, ceding its power and decision making to other branches. I don’t think our founders ever imagined that the legislative branch, the House of Representatives, would be as weak as it is. In order for us to continue to have a government of the people, that means that we need to make sure that we’re doing our roles. When the elected representatives become bystanders, the people become marginalized.”

“That’s why legislation like the USA Act, the Unauthorized Spending Accountability Act that I’ve been working on and I have support from a number of my colleagues on, is so important.”

“There are hundreds of programs that are unauthorized today. Hundreds of billions of dollars that are basically on autopilot because Congress [hasn’t done its] job to review, rethink, or eliminate these agencies and programs that have their authorization expired. The USA Act would make sure that is happening.”

“Jake Tapper called these unauthorized programs ‘zombie programs’. I think it’s a really good description because they’re basically those programs that just continue to exist even though the authorization has expired. What [the USA Act] does is it will restore Congress’s power of the purse.”


“I also want to highlight the importance of the states–the laboratories of democracy–with two examples.

“Washington state spent three years getting a Medicaid wavier from the federal government. It took us three years to get permission from the federal government to implement the reforms within Medicaid that Washington state had identified would help us meet the needs of the most vulnerable. This would allow us to implement some innovative approaches that would actually get better results at a lower cost.”

“Don’t you think we’d be better if the states just had that authority to begin with? That the states had more flexibility to decide how best to structure those programs?”

 “[A second example is] in transportation. Today in the United States of America if there’s federal dollars involved in a transportation project, it takes on average seven years to permit that project. Just think about the time and the money that is spent in that seven years of permitting because of studies, the review, and everything else.

“[Transportation Secretary] Elaine Chao is on a mission to get that down to one year or less. It really is about getting the decision making back to the place that it is closest to the people. That’s when we’re going to have the best results and the best outcomes.”


“We have candidates running for president and they have a plan to solve everything from the federal government perspective. They’re basically promoting more federal government… In many ways that is a socialist approach to decision making for the country.”

“What we need to be doing is making the case for freedom, free markets and capitalism—and celebrating that it has been America through freedom and free markets that gives the individual the ability to take those ideas that they have to solve problems, to create new products or new services, or within a community decide what is best for a community.”

“Here’s an example from last year. In the city of Spokane, like many communities around the country, we have a growing homeless problem. More and more people find themselves on the streets. There’s a big debate in Spokane going on as to how do we help these people that are clearly in need. Hope House, which is a homeless shelter for women, is packed out.”

“Because of tax reform, because we lifted the tax burden and gave more people the ability to keep those dollars in their own pocket, the Hope House got a million dollars contribution from a company and is expanding right now. They’re building. That’s just one little example, but that is an example where if you help people keep more of their own money, and be able to step up and meet the needs in their community, it’s going to be more effective. Those dollars are going to go father than any program that the federal government is offering right now to help with homelessness.”

“[America] has done more to lift people out of poverty and raise the standard of living than any other country in the world. It is because free people are able to take their creative ideas … to solve problems and meet the needs of families. It’s much more effective than anything that the government can offer, and we must remind people of that. That is a part of the genius of America.”

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