The spending cuts included in Congress’ recently passed two-week continuing resolution are just the first steps to greater fiscal discipline, freshman Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC) said last week at The Heritage Foundation. With a new deadline of March 18 to fund the government, Ellmers promised push for more spending reductions in the weeks ahead.
Speaking at The Bloggers Briefing, Ellmers said the $4 billion in cuts included in the two-week CR represent only what President Obama has requested to be defunded in his fiscal 2012 budget. Republicans are just “taking the ball and running with it quicker,” she said.
The cuts “aren’t happy cuts,” but have become necessary from a “lack of leadership” in the 111th Congress, she continued. “We don’t like what we’ve had to do, but we’ve had to do them.”
Ellmers speculated that Democrats expected the cuts to cause a backlash from constituents, but instead, people have been very supportive. While back in her home district, Ellmers said she received encouragement from her constituents. “Bring it on, keep going, don’t stop now, cut more” are popular refrains among her fellow North Carolinians, she said.
But for all that the bill did cut, it contained no policy riders such as the defunding of Obamacare or Planned Parenthood. Ellmers said conservative lawmakers will “absolutely” work to implement these priorities in the future.
For those future battles, the freshmen will continue to look to the Republican leadership Ellmers described as “wonderful” and “very supporting” — even as they resist “business as usual.”
“We have been able to hold their feet to the fire,” Ellmers said. “When they might have been tempted to shy away from something, we have forced the issue and really made them react in the way that we felt the American public wanted us to.”
The camaraderie of the principled incoming class was also evident from the congresswoman’s remarks: “We’re one big group, kind of like the high school kids or the freshmen.” She related how, before introducing legislation to the entire committee, the leaders in the House have often taken the time to run it by the freshman class as a group.
Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has begun to unveil his yet-to-be-released entitlement reform plan in this manner, Ellmers said, commending that plan as a “good, solid solution” that especially took on the problem of Medicare.
Matthew McKillip is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation.