Sen. Carper Statement on Start of 113th Congress

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) issued the following statement in regards to the start of the 113th Congress:

“As we begin a new year and a new Congress, it is my hope that we can come together to address the issues that matter most to the American people. The last several months of 2012 have tested our state and nation. But as we have in our nation’s other challenging chapters, we have an important opportunity to think about the future, come together and to heal.  

“I am eager to get this session of Congress underway and to work with my new and old colleagues on both sides of the aisle address our nation’s challenges. Priority number one for both parties is working together to enact a genuine, bipartisan budget plan and to resolve the remaining financial hardships and other looming crises – like the debt ceiling and sequester – that were not addressed by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. Essential to crafting a long-term, responsible deficit reduction plan is to reform entitlements in a fair and humane way in order to preserve programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security for current beneficiaries as well as future generations. We must also significantly increase federal revenues. Over the last dozen years, revenues have dropped from roughly 20 percent of GDP, when we had four balanced budgets in a row, to less than 16 percent of GDP today. The fiscal cliff plan passed earlier this week does little to change that. I have long supported an approach similar to the plan put forward by the Bowles-Simpson Fiscal Commission. A bipartisan plan to get our nation’s fiscal house in order, like Bowles-Simpson, would lay the groundwork for future cooperation and begin to restore Washington’s credibility to address even bigger challenges in the future. This type of plan would also reform our complicated tax code to provide businesses with the certainty and predictability they need to ramp up hiring and other investments. But in order to steer our economy in the right direction, Congress must embrace the spirit of bipartisanship. 

“Also at the top of the list is the need to help put Delawareans and Americans back to work, continue our economic recovery and restore sound fiscal policy. A top driver of our fiscal woes is our nation’s increasing health care costs. That is why it remains a priority of mine to ensure that the health care reform law is properly implemented so that our nation can get better health outcomes for less money. I also look forward to continuing to work side-by-side with Senator Chris Coons and Congressman John Carney, serving the First State, especially as our state continues to recover from Superstorm Sandy and work together to protect Delawareans’ lives and property from the next threat.

“Furthermore, last month, I was honored to be selected by my Democratic colleagues to become the next Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. Our nation has faced some significant challenges in the decade since this committee was reorganized to encompass both Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and I know there are numerous challenges that still lie ahead – whether it is securing our nation’s borders and ports, protecting our critical infrastructure from cyber attacks, reducing wasteful and fraudulent spending as well as getting better results from ineffective programs. Enhancing our nation’s security at home and abroad will remain the core of this committee’s mission, along with the work we must do to make federal agencies work better and more efficiently with the resources we entrust to them. We must look into every nook and cranny of federal spending – domestic, defense, entitlements, and tax expenditures – and figure out how we can get better results for less money. I look forward to continuing in the spirit of Sen. Lieberman’s steadfast leadership and carrying on his proud tradition of bipartisanship and cooperation in the years to come.

“Tackling these challenges in the coming weeks, months and years won’t be easy, but I stand ready. I know this is still a difficult time for many Delawareans, but in these challenges I hope we can continue to find opportunities for growth and success. As I begin this near year and new session of Congress, I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve the people of Delaware.”