U.S. Rep. Rick Allen returned home to Augusta on Thursday for a ceremonial swearing-in, a platform he used to update his priorities for his first term in Congress, which include repealing the Affordable Care Act and growing the economy through energy independence and “fiscal responsibility.”
After taking the oath at Augusta’s downtown federal courthouse, Allen said he has co-sponsored several bills and expected the Senate to pass a measure that the House approved in early January to fast-track construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. It did so later Thursday.
The Augusta Republican said he believes the effort will be the first of his goals to come to fruition, adding that legislation he endorsed to revoke the Affordable Care Act, limit House and Senate terms to 12 years, and require the president to propose a balanced federal budget could be the toughest to accomplish.
President Obama has threatened to veto legislation that would tweak his health care package. A similar balanced-budget amendment to approve spending plans only where total expenditures didn’t exceed total revenue – unless with a 60 percent vote from Congress – failed in 2011.
“Our country is at a critical crossroads and I ran on the conviction … to make real solutions for citizens both nationwide and in Georgia’s 12th Congressional District,” Allen said. “We must turn around our economy and strengthen our financial position for future generations.”
Allen said he plans to leverage his experiences as a grandfather, knowledge as a local construction company owner and power on the House’s Agriculture and Education and Workforce committees to equip workers and farmers with the tools they need to foster innovation and entrepreneurship.
He said the Keystone pipeline would provide an estimated 42,000 construction jobs, yield $2 billion in national earnings and reduce oil imports from the Middle East.
A crowd of more than 100 family and friends applauded Allen’s plan.
U.S. District Judge Dudley Bowen Jr., a friend of Allen’s, said that Allen’s construction company fought hard through many change-order negotiations to build the Plaza Building at Augusta’s Federal Justice Center, but that Allen was always pleasant and willing to negotiate.
“Everyone worked out their differences in a friendly and cordial fashion,” Bowen said.
Allen choked up as he said he has been overwhelmed by the support he and his wife, Robin, have received since they decided to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. John Barrow last March.
“Robin said we have to do this, and folks we can do this,” Allen said. “We are humbled by the faith you have placed in me and I look forward to making a difference in Washington.”