Virginia FoxxU.S. Representative
[R] North Carolina, United States

Length: 10 minutes, 9 seconds

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Ms. FOXX. Well, I thank Mr. Bishop, the gentleman from Utah, for being in charge of this Special Order tonight and bringing to the American people what I think is one of the most critical issues facing us in this country, and that is the issue of federalism and the need for us to adhere to the 10th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

Too few people really understand the role of the Federal Government in our country. We've gotten away from the teaching of the Constitution. We've gotten away from the teaching of the role of government in our country. People have this notion that they have this right and that right, and if you press them to tell you whether they've read the Constitution or not, most of them will tell you they have not. And they really do not understand, again, what the roles of our respective governments are.

In the last week, while we had a little bit of time away from Washington and I managed to squeeze out some quiet time, I had the chance to read a Joseph Ellis book called ``American Creation,'' which talks about the triumphs and the tragedies of the beginning of our country. And it's really important that we understand that there were a lot of conflicts that came about in the founding of the United States. It wasn't as smooth a thing as many of us think that it was. But one thing that was very clear to all of the Founders was the issue of federalism.

The idea of the United States of America was a radical idea to begin with. Never before had people believed that they had freedoms and that they had inalienable rights given to them by God. So it was a totally radical idea. But add to that the idea that you shouldn't have a Federal Government that would control everything from Washington, and it was absolutely radical. And we owe a great deal to George Washington, our first President, for not trying to be king and understanding that we needed to send power, delegate power, let power be held at the State and local levels.

We can see the unhealthiness of the growing role of the Federal Government fairly easy in numbers, and I'm going to quote a couple of numbers for you.

Since 1995 alone, the Federal Government has issued nearly 60,000 new rules governing everything from the size of the holes in Swiss cheese to what colors are allowed for surgical stitches. Federal spending surpassed a hundred billion dollars only in 1962 for the first time. That was a huge amount of money in 1962. And back then, people were saying a million here, a million there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. In 2010, the Federal spending will surpass $3.5 trillion.

I think there are very few people in the country who really believe that the best way to do things is to have them done by the Federal Government. I'm a very, very strong 10th Amendment person, as are my colleagues here, and I'm really pleased to be a part of the 10th Amendment Task Force. And perhaps my colleagues went over these earlier, but I'm going to mention them very quickly, what our mission is and what our goals are.

Our mission is to disperse power from Washington and restore the constitutional balance of power through liberty-enhancing federalism. And we have five goals: Educate Congress and the public about federalism. You might wonder why Congress needs to be educated, but many Members of Congress really don't understand the concept of federalism; Number two, develop proposals to disperse power to regional entities, States, local governments, private institutions, community groups, families, and individuals; Three, elevate federalism as a core Republican focus; Four, monitor threats to the 10th Amendment principles; and Five, help build and foster a federalist constituency.

So we know what it is we need to be doing. We have worked as a Constitutional Caucus in the past to do our best to educate people, but focusing, I think, on the 10th Amendment is very, very important. And again, I'm very pleased to be a part of this.

Let me say some more about federalism. [Page: H4236] The term is foreign to many people, but most Americans care about the things that federalism brings without even knowing it. Federalism brings choice, options, flexibility, and freedom. Federalism is not a concept of either the right or the left. It is neither a Republican nor a Democrat idea. Decentralization and community empowerment can be a worthy goal of both the left and the right. Both sides have something to gain under a federalist revival.

And this is not yesterday's States rights arguments. It's much bigger than that. This is about better governance. This is about adjusting modern politics to modern life. This is about breaking up big, inefficient, unresponsive government and returning power to the people.

As my colleague was using some illustrations a little bit ago about education, as one who was involved with education a great deal before coming to Congress, I wholly subscribe to the concepts which he presented.

Let me give a couple of other things about federalism, and then I'm going to turn it back to my colleague from Utah or to my colleague from Texas, both of whom who are extremely eloquent on this issue.

In a nutshell, federalism is the best system, because it brings government closer to the people. It nurtures civic virtue. It protects liberty. It takes advantage of local information. It stimulates policy innovation, and it alleviates political tensions.

In other words, federalism was the Founders' original formula for freedom and good government. It's time to reinvigorate this freedom-enhancing principle of government.

Again, I know very few people who believe that we should go to the Federal Government to solve all of our problems. We should first solve the problems that government needs to solve at the local level, then at the State level, and as a last resort, go to the Federal Government. Unfortunately, too many people think of the Federal Government first, and that complicates our lives.

We have a huge deficit and a huge debt right now because too many people have looked to the Federal Government to solve problems that could have been solved at the local and State levels for much less money and in a much more efficient way. I'll just give one example.

The problem that we're having in the gulf right now, that is a problem that does need to be solved by the Federal Government. But is the Federal Government prepared to do that? No. Why? Because the Federal Government's involved with way too many other things. The Federal Government should be looking after national security, I think national parks, our interstate highways, maybe the Federal Aviation Administration. But we're doing too much or attempting to do too much at the Federal level and not doing those things that we should be doing as well as we should be doing.

So, again, I want to thank my colleague from Utah for being in charge of this Special Order tonight and giving us a chance to do all that we can to educate others.

I'm Virginia Foxx from the Fifth District of North Carolina, and if you'd like more information about this issue, please go to my Web site or contact me and I'll be more than happy to share information about this, because, as Jefferson said, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and we must help educate our fellow Americans on this issue if we want to maintain the wonderful country that we have.

And with that, I'll yield to the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Bishop.