Legislative Accomplishments from 26 years in the House
I stand by a solid record built on constitutional principles, individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, strong families, a strong national defense, and a free enterprise system that continues to lift America to economic heights.In a few weeks, I will complete my service as the United States Representative for Virginia’s Sixth District. It has been the honor of my life to serve in Congress since I was elected in 1992. I am humbled by both the trust my constituents have placed in me and the enormity of the job each time I set foot in the well of the House in the United States Capitol and prepare to cast a vote.
Throughout my service in Congress, I have worked diligently for the people of the Sixth District. In carrying out my duties, I have always first considered the views of my constituents expressed through meetings, emails, letters, calls, and other means.
My first term of service in Congress was marked by passage of my first bill, creating the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area in Amherst County. My early years in the House also included completing work on what would become the Jim Olin Flood Prevention Project in Buena Vista. Later, I partnered with Roanoke Valley officials to get approval and funding for the Roanoke River Flood Reduction and Greenway Project, which has helped transform use of the waterway and led to a surge in outdoor-related activities in the largest city in the Sixth District.
When Republicans took control of the House in the historic election of 1994, I joined with many of my colleagues in promoting the “Contract with America.” This effort redirected Congress’ focus to Constitutional principles, reform of the federal government, and fiscal conservatism as well as legal reforms including legislation I authored that was ultimately signed into law to address class-action lawsuit abuse and legislation to protect consumers from fraud. I was also a leader in protecting data security through policies that promote strong encryption.
Since America was attacked on September 11, 2001, I have written laws to combat terrorism while protecting Americans’ civil liberties including the USA Freedom Act, which ended the bulk collection of Americans’ communications records while retaining critical tools for law enforcement to locate and prosecute terrorists. During the economic crisis of late 2007, I stood by my convictions and cast votes to protect the free market from additional government intrusion. When evidence emerged that two federal judges had engaged in corruption and abuse of power, I led the efforts to impeach those judges in the House and to try the case before the U.S. Senate; both judges were removed from office. And many Congresses ago, I fought for and led the first-ever reading of the full text of the U.S. Constitution on the Floor of the House of Representatives - a practice that continues to this day.
Through hard work, I ultimately became Chairman of two House committees - first for the Agriculture Committee and for the past six years, the Judiciary Committee. These positions have allowed me to have greater access to Congressional decision-making and a greater impact for my constituents.
My time on the Agriculture Committee allowed me to work on many issues important to Western Virginia, including Augusta and Rockingham Counties, the two largest agricultural producers in Virginia. I helped address major issues like avian flu outbreaks, worked with producers who created the Virginia Poultry Growers Cooperative, enacted legislation to ensure the nation’s forests could be appropriately managed to keep them healthy and reduce the likelihood of wildfires, and helped ensure American farmers had fair access to worldwide markets, among many other initiatives.
As Chairman of the far-reaching Judiciary Committee, I became the first Virginian to hold the position in 125 years. The Committee has the responsibility for oversight of the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security and I have led major investigations to fulfil that responsibility. I have had the opportunity to enact laws to permanently ban taxes on Internet access, protect Americans’ Constitutional freedoms, crack down on child predators and sex traffickers, combat terrorism, give state and local law enforcement critical resources to address the nation’s terrible opioid crisis, and protect the intellectual property of individuals and businesses, to name just a few. Most recently, a few weeks ago I stood beside the President as he signed the Hatch-Goodlatte Music Modernization Act into law, which updated our nation’s copyright laws to ensure they continue to incentivize creativity and innovation in the digital age.
When I was first elected, I set out to make an impact in a manner that would protect our freedoms and benefit Americans and the constituents of the Sixth Congressional District. I voted confidently, trusting in my desire to serve my constituents to the best of my abilities. I will miss the legislative responsibility that comes with being an elected representative and, as always, much work remains for my successor and future Congresses. But I stand by a solid record built on constitutional principles, individual freedom, fiscal responsibility, strong families, a strong national defense, and a free enterprise system that continues to lift America to economic heights. I remain guided by my hope that future generations will benefit from the work my colleagues and I have done, so help us God.