Report from Washington
I often hear in the district that we get outvoted by those living in Northern Virginia.
While the Fifth, Sixth, and Ninth Districts comprising Western and Southside Virginia cover more land, these districts have approximately the same number of people as Northern Virginia’s Eighth, Tenth, and Eleventh Districts. However, the Eighth, Tenth, and Eleventh have had a higher voter turnout over the course of the last few elections.
Accordingly, when one region has more people actually voting, that region has more influence; 1,810,512 Virginians, both Democrats and Republicans, voted at the polls in the recent Super Tuesday presidential primary. In the March 1 primary, 170,801 voted in the Eleventh District, whereas only 118,668 voted in the Ninth.
While some difference could be that the population in the Ninth is not growing like the Eleventh’s, the districts had the same population in 2010. But even in the primary we let the Eleventh District outvote us by 52,133.
Actually showing up at the polls will get the Ninth District more attention. More of our issues will be addressed by statewide officials and those considering running statewide. Whether Democrat or Republican, turning out in higher numbers in the future will increase the Ninth District’s influence. The bottom line is we need to vote in larger numbers.
In the current environment, getting bills through Congress is difficult. Nonetheless, I have had some victories both large and small. As I discussed in a recent column, I am proud to have successfully added to the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act (H.R. 2406) an amendment that strengthens federal protections for law-abiding Americans who are traveling with firearms. Passage of this amendment as part of the SHARE Act is a legislative victory for civil liberties and Second Amendment rights.
Also, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regulatory Relief Act of 2011(H.R. 2250), a bill I introduced to serve as a much-needed legislative fix to the Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rules. These rules on boilers at schools, hospitals, hotels, businesses, and other facilities needlessly put American jobs at risk.
The EPA Regulatory Relief Act was written to make sure the EPA, when considering such expensive and comprehensive rules on businesses that employ thousands of hardworking Americans, would be able to have flexibility in applying new rules on a myriad of businesses, and to make sure the EPA had sufficient time to get the rules right.
The House passed my bill with strong bipartisan support. A nearly identical Senate bill (S. 1392) had the support of 12 Democrats and 29 Republicans in a Senate then led by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV). Despite receiving 52 votes in the Senate, an amendment based off of the EPA Regulatory Relief Act ultimately fell short of the 60 votes required for adoption (see prior columns on the Senate’s 60-vote rule).
Regardless, my bill caused enough of a stir that the EPA changed some of their rules, which helped some American businesses keep employees and jobs.
In another victory, I led the charge in Congress to enact new, common-sense regulations on compounding pharmacies in order to distinguish them from illegal drug manufacturers like the New England Compounding Center (NECC). Tainted sterile injections from the NECC led to a fungal meningitis outbreak. Along with Representatives Gene Green (D-TX) and Diana DeGette, we introduced the bipartisan Compounding Clarity Act of 2013 (H.R. 3089).
Parts of our bill were included in broader, bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Drug Quality and Security Act (H.R. 3204), signed into law by President Obama, which is a victory for public health and patient safety.
Other victories, though, are smaller. Consider, for example, my two dam bills recently reported out of committee to help complete Jordan Hydroelectric Limited Partnership’s proposed projects at the Army Corps of Engineers’ Gathright Dam in Alleghany County and the Flannagan Dam in Dickenson County. A vote on the floor is expected soon.
I am proud of these wins and others, and will continue fighting for and pursuing victories on behalf of the residents of the Ninth District of Virginia. Voting to oppose a bad bill or bad amendment can also be very important. After all, some bills are dam bills with a slightly different spelling.
If you have legislative ideas, whether large or small, I want to hear them, so feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at (276) 525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at (540) 381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.
Also on my website is the latest material from my office, including information on votes recently taken on the floor of the House of Representatives.