Congressman Steve Russell

The great folks in Oklahoma sent me to Washington to get stuff done, rather than to seek headlines. I wanted to take a few moments to let you know that we’ve been doing a lot of work. The House has actually passed 269 bills since January, more than the last four administrations.

We’ve passed legislation to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a system that protects people with preexisting conditions, while bringing down costs and expanding choices for families. Now it’s the Senate’s turn.

In passing this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, we’ve increased defense funding by $21 billion, and authorized resources to counter additional threats, restore strength to our military and begin to provide some modern equipment long neglected.

Speaking of national security, I’ve also been very actively involved in opposing the proposed privatization of our air traffic control system. While we certainly appreciate the President’s work in bringing the need for modernization to the fore, it is very important that we do not relinquish the President’s authority and we do not relinquish control of our national air space.

There are three areas where government has a legitimate role; national defense, national intelligence, and national air space. If this privatization bill were to become law, it would dramatically reduce the power the President would have, restricting him only to war time authority. Then you have people scrambling during emergencies, wondering if it’s appropriate for the President to take control. You can imagine what that would have done on 9/11.

The other issues that we have involve what’s called Title 2 and Title 31 oversight. This privatization corporation that would take over air traffic control would have no ties to the government of any kind, and that means that it would have no government oversight. The problem is this private corporation would still get appropriated dollars -your tax dollars- but we as your duly elected representatives would have no means to have oversight of them. Yet they would be controlling our skies.

Security wise, the problem becomes there is no prohibition on the hiring of foreign nationals. There would be no oaths of office for those in the control towers dealing with not just our flights that happen every day, but also all of the things that go on with our military, our intelligence services, the FBI, drug enforcement, and border security.

There are a lot of things we can do to privatize and eliminate waste, and certainly reduce the size of government. But when it comes to national defense, national intelligence and national air space, we cannot relinquish control of our ability to protect U.S. citizens. That is why I oppose the privatization plan and do support a modernization, though we are certainly working to get to that.

We are also working with the Senate and the Trump Administration to reduce taxes, and achieve a fair and predictable rate for individuals and businesses, while also working on a way for Americans to file their taxes on a postcard, rather than a phonebook sized tax return.

Cutting government waste has been, as you know, a core objective of mine since coming to Congress. Did you know that for every million dollars that we waste here Washington, 96 Oklahomans have to work all year long to pay their taxes so we can waste it. My legislation thus far, in the time I’ve been in Congress, has saved $4 billion. I’ve introduced 11 more cost cutting bills this Congress, which if enacted would save the taxpayer an additional $28.5 billion. I’ve also provided and published our seventh edition of Waste Watch, highlighting a total of more than $300 billion in wasteful government spending.

The American people are resilient. There is little that we cannot accomplish if we stay determined and work together. We got into this mess slowly over many decades with one bill here, one wasteful expenditure there. But we can get out of it one measure at a time, and that is what I am working toward.

It’s an honor to serve you in Washington. Our country is still worth fighting for.

With respect,


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