When I talk to constituents, I hear a lot of concerns they want Washington to address. The cost of living, high energy prices, the crisis on the southern border, and several others impact them and their communities, and so these concerns come up frequently.
One concern I had not heard expressed by constituents regards the ownership of big cats. Yet the current Democrat majority in the U.S. House of Representatives recently chose to use its authority to advance legislation concerning the topic. I will acknowledge that this is an issue that needs to be looked at. But is it one of the top fifteen or twenty issues facing our nation?
On June 8, the Committee on Natural Resources convened to discuss legislation regulating big cat ownership. To give you an idea of what they are neglecting, the Committee on Natural Resources has jurisdiction over public lands such as national parks and forests and the activities that take place on them.
I have heard repeatedly from constituents about frustrations with the management of aspects of national parks and forests in our region, such as campgrounds, roads, and overlooks. The committee also has jurisdiction over the energy production and mineral mining that take place on federal public lands. But during a time of soaring energy prices and critical mineral shortages, Democrats made big cats the issue of the day.
In the following week, the most notable legislation Speaker Pelosi put on the floor was a bill that included requiring financial institutions to prioritize “economic justice.”
The closest the majority came to addressing the pocketbook issues that deeply concern voters was a bill that purports to address high food prices by creating a special investigator in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would duplicate existing programs and create more bureaucratic headaches for meat packers and live poultry dealers.
Looking ahead, the agenda does not appear to get more serious. For example, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform plans a hearing on the workplace culture of the football team now known as the Washington Commanders.
Big cats or professional football may merit the attention of lawmakers, but crisis after crisis has afflicted everyday lives. It is difficult to justify spending time on these issues when one looks at the other matters certainly within the Federal Government’s purview that have reached crisis levels. And yet there is little significant legislative activity on these urgent issues.
Economic indicators continue to find inflation at highs not seen in decades. The Consumer Price Index for May 2022 was 8.6 percent higher than the previous year, the largest twelve-month increase since the period ending December 1981. Driving this surge in the cost of living were price increases in essentials such as food, shelter, and gasoline.
Speaking of gasoline, regular unleaded gas prices in Virginia hit a record high of $4.87 on June 14, and diesel prices in the Commonwealth hit their own record of $5.83 on June 13. These prices have significant consequences. Families are likely looking at summer vacations they may have to cut back or cancel. The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported that costs for fuel may squeeze the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office budget for new equipment.
If you are not tired of setting negative records under the Biden Administration, the number of illegal immigrant encounters at the southern border in May hit 239,416, the most ever recorded. That number is about 4,000 higher than April’s, which set a record at the time.
The lack of control over the southern border also facilitates smuggling of illegal drugs while overdose deaths in the United States have surpassed 100,000 in a single year. Most of the fentanyl that has driven overdoses up comes across the border illegally after its components were shipped from China to be manufactured in Mexico.
I wish the current House majority would focus on these problems, but when it is not putting on sideshows like big cats or the Commanders, it is rejecting Republican ideas to solve the problem. Democrats have blocked seven times the American Energy Independence From Russia Act, a bill to increase domestic energy production and ease gas prices, from coming up for a vote on the floor.
Each time Americans go to the grocery store and see higher prices or empty shelves, or try to fill up their gas tanks and are astounded at the cost, or hear that someone in their community overdosed due to fentanyl, they are reminded of the challenges facing our country. Democrat distractions won’t work.
- Congressman H. Morgan Griffith