New U. S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., held a press conference this morning and discussed his 24 hours in Congress, including his family attending his swearing in and his vote this morning against providing $9.7 billion in aid to victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Daines was one of 67 representatives to vote against that aid. That bill now goes to the Senate. A total of 354 representatives approved the bill.
“It just gets back to a principle that I committed to when I ran for Congress in Montana, and that is we need to make sure that we are not going to add to our debt crisis and the burden that we are leaving the next generation, ” Daines said. “It grows bigger every day. ”
He said the proposal did not have an offset for the spending in the bill, and there is time to move to find spending reductions to pay for providing aid to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
“We have to help those in need, there is no doubt about that, but we’ve got to find ways to do it in a responsible fiscal manner” Daines said. “The way to do that … is to make sure we find some offsets in spending in one area when we increase spending in others. ”
He made similar comments on other issues including the “fiscal cliff. ” He did not comment on the New Year’s Day passage of a compromise tax bill, but said the real work now begins to cut spending before a new March deadline for sequestration arrives.
“I don’t think anybody is happy with the outcome, ” he said, adding that the focus needs to be on spending and how the government operates.
“We need to reform these systems …, ” Daines said. “We need to focus on longterm reforms to make government more efficient and effective. ”
He said some reforms he wants to see include a balanced budget amendment, moving from baseline budgeting to a zero-based budget system, and having a “pay-for-performance” system in Congress that reflects what is seen in the private system.
Daines said he was sworn in on the Bible owned by his grandfather, from Ledger, Mont. His whole family was there and two of his four children were on the floor as he took his oath. That is symbolic of the need for Congress to address the future of America’s youth, he said.
He said he also met with Montana’s Democratic U. S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester Thursday during his open house, and discussed with them how, as the only three Montanans in the 535 members of Congress, they need to work together to represent the interests of the citizens of the state.