GCN Guest Opinion
Congress Faces Tough
by: Sen. Trent Lott
Filed 1/19/07 GCN
Although the War on Terror continues to
be our nation’s greatest challenge, there are other issues Congress must
address, issues that require finding a workable balance. I say “workable”
because if any of these issues are too weighted on one side, they just
won’t work. They won’t go forward. And the American people deserve
We urgently need a national energy policy. I’ve been saying this for
years, but Congress has not acted decisively on this very important
national challenge. This isn’t just about the price of gas, although
that’s a big part of it. It’s about America’s economic and national
We need to develop a far-reaching energy
plan that encompasses practically everything our nation’s vast resources
and technology can muster. We need more domestic energy production from
traditional sources like oil, natural gas and coal. We need more hydro
and nuclear power. At the same time, we’ve got to conserve and invest
more in alternative fuels. We need the whole package. Enacting just one
or two parts is not a workable, comprehensive plan.
In Mississippi we’re finding the workable
balance. We’re producing and refining more oil and gas. Just in the last
few months, we’ve broken ground on a new ethanol plant as well as a new
lignite plant which derives energy from soil. We’re leading in bio fuels
which extract energy from plant and animal matter. All of America should
be following Mississippi’s lead.
This is not just an issue for border states like Texas, Arizona and
California. In terms of percentage of immigrant population growth per
state, Mississippi leads the nation. The Center for Immigration Studies
says our state’s immigrant population increased almost 150 percent between
2000 and 2005, eight times the national average. More than 43,000
immigrants came here in those five years alone. That’s like absorbing a
community roughly the size of Hattiesburg in a very short time – tough for
a small state with a limited tax base.
We need a comprehensive immigration reform
package, but the American people won’t accept an amnesty program which
would give millions of illegal immigrants a pass for breaking the law,
putting the burden on American taxpayers.
We’ve got to find a workable balance that is
short of amnesty, protects our borders and makes a distinction between
those who want to do us harm and those who want to come here legitimately,
work hard and contribute to our economy. It can and must be done.
In Mississippi this issue can be broken down into two parts:
accessibility and affordability. I’ve urged the White House to make this
one of the top legislative issues this year because many Mississippians
cannot afford quality health care. And, even if they can, it’s getting
harder for rural residents to find it near where they live.
The American people consistently reject
socialized medicine, and we see other countries where government health
care just doesn’t work efficiently or effectively. We can find a balance
between the public and private sector that will improve health care for
We’ve come a long way in our recovery and rebuilding effort since the fall
of 2005, but hardly a day goes by when I or someone on my staff doesn’t
have to call government agencies like FEMA. We will continue to force the
bureaucracy to make sure support gets through the layers of red tape to
those who need it.
I understand the need to protect taxpayers
from those seeking to misuse relief assistance, but the fraud peddlers by
far are the exception. Here, too, finding balance between accountability
and action is what we must do. Our overriding priority is helping those
In fact, with all these issues, the first
step in finding a workable balance is asking what’s best for the vast
majority of Americans and building from there. If that’s the way Congress
approaches our agenda, America will indeed find a workable balance that
moves us forward.
Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column.
Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building,
Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office) or