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Foxx talks year in Congress, expectations for 2016

Virginia Foxx

Rep. Foxx

Rep. Virginia Foxx

It’s an election year for all members of the U.S. House, but Rep. Virginia Foxx predicts a productive 2016.

Foxx, R-5, will be involved in primary and general election competitions in 2016, but expects an on-time budget, a more thorough budget process and more examples of what Republican leadership can produce when in control of the U.S. Senate and House. She spoke this week about her expectations for 2016 and experiences in 2015 during an interview with the Salisbury Post. She shied away from commenting on the 2016 race for president, except saying she hopes a Republican wins.

Topics Foxx discussed included: a bill that replaced No Child Left Behind, the nation’s budget, spending and national security.

No Child Left Behind replacement

Foxx said a bill to replace No Child Left Behind — called the Every Student Succeeds Act — stops the federal government from mandating local curriculum, such as Common Core. What works for a large city may not work in the 5th Congressional District, she said.

The bill passed by a wide margin in the U.S. House. Foxx and 358 other U.S. House Members voted for it. It became law earlier this year when President Barack Obama signed it.

“In the future, the president and secretary of education cannot arbitrarily dictate policy to local school boards,” Foxx said. “Every school district is unique. What works in some won’t work in others.”

Foxx said education is an example of an institution not specifically assigned to federal government control in the U.S. Constitution.

“If we did not assign a responsibility to the federal government, then that responsibility belongs to the states or to the people themselves,” she said.

She said common core is an example of national policy dictated to states and local school boards.

Budget and spending

First, Congress passed a budget. Then came a spending deal. Foxx wasn’t completely happy with either, but cited positive benefits of both.

She voted against a federal budget in October because it would suspend the debt ceiling through March 2017. During an interview this week, Foxx said the budget provides a positive path forward to a balanced budget.

“The budget reflects your priorities,” Foxx said. “What we are able to say to the world is ‘look here guys, this is what Republicans believe.’ It’s important to us to come to a balanced budget within 10 years.”

Congress’ spending deal — called an omnibus — combined several bills into one to set spending levels for agencies and departments. Foxx cited a statement provided by House Speaker Paul Ryan that praised the repeal of an oil export ban. The repeal ends the 1975 ban on export of American oil.

She said the spending deal was important, but transitioned to a separate measure that extended a number of tax credits. A total of 52 tax provisions that expired were temporarily extended or made permanent. Foxx noted the Research and Experimentation tax credit, which is important for businesses.

National security

In 2015, national security became a major topic of discussion in Congress shortly after deadly terrorist attacks in Paris. A bill initially drafted by Rep. Richard Hudson to more thoroughly vet Syrian and Iraqi refugees quickly advanced through the U.S. House. It’s sitting in the Senate now. Later, the U.S. House passed a measure to strengthen the nation’s Visa Waiver program.

She said Congress has worked to do what it can on national security.

“However, setting policy for national defense is the role of the president,” she said. “And, the problem that we have right now is the president has not come up with a strategy for keeping the country safe. Frankly, our Congress is pretty frustrated right now.”

Foxx says Congress is waiting for Obama to come up with a national defense strategy, but passing legislation in the meantime.

“We need a comprehensive plan that could only come from the president, and we just don’t have any leadership,” she said.

What’s ahead in 2016?

Foxx first said Congress would pass a budget that lays out priorities of the Republican majority in Congress. She said the Republican nominee for president would “hopefully” adopt or endorse the final budget.

Congress will likely work on its spending bills — separate from the budget — at an earlier date than it did in 2015. The Senate, however, has to set aside time to discuss the bills in order for each to get passed individually and not lumped into an omnibus package, Foxx said.

“I think we’ll be productive and there will be progress in 2016,” she said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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