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Reconnecting Congress with America

The Reconnecting Congress with America Initiative is a package of Congressional reforms that aims to overhaul our system of governing, restore confidence in Congress and reconnect Congress with the American people. Many Americans believe that their elected representatives have become a ruling class of elites that does not feel the personal impact of the legislation they pass. This Initiative addresses simple yet meaningful reforms in order to instill a culture of servant leadership to replace Congress’ current ruling class mindset and to restore accountability to our broken system in Washington.  This Initiative includes the following features: (i) implements term limits, (ii) adjusts Congressional pay to fit private sector response to economic difficulties, (iii) modifies Congressional benefits to conform to current private sector structures, and (iv) requires Congress to abide by the laws it enacts.

The Reconnecting Congress with America Initiative includes:

  1. Term limits: I am a cosponsor of H. J. Res. 20 (Platts, R-PA), which proposes an amendment to the Constitution limiting the consecutive number of terms to two for Senators and six for Representatives.
  2. Congressional pay: I am the author and sponsor of H.R. 3565, the Reconnecting Congress with America (RCWA) Act, which establishes base rate of pay for Members of Congress (Members), ties Member salary to the Federal budget deficit and repeals the automatic pay adjustment. If the Federal deficit is equal to or greater than 3% f gross domestic product (GDP), then Members’ base salary would be cut by 20%.If the Federal deficit is less than 3%, Members’ base salary would be cut by 10%. In a case of no Federal deficit, or if a surplus were to exist, Members would receive 100% of their base salary. This way, Congress will be much more in touch with the economic situation that the American private sector employees feel every day.
  3. Congressional benefits:
    • Retirement: the RCWA Act increases Member contribution to the Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS) from 1.3% of pay to 6.2%.  This provision puts Members in a position where they are paying the same amount for their retirement benefits that private sector employees pay into Social Security.  The Federal government contribution would be offset by this amount.
    • I am a co-sponsor of the H.R. 3480 (Griffin, R-AR), End Pensions in Congress Act (EPIC Act)--this is the ultimate solution that I would like to achieve with respect to Congressional benefits. 
  4. Living under the laws enacted by Congress:
    • The RCWA Act includes two associated provisions:
      1. Insider Trading: Prohibits commodities and securities trading by Members and employees of Congress and employees of Executive branch agencies based on nonpublic information related to their official duties. This incorporates three provisions from H.R. 1148, the STOCK Act (Walz, D-MN).
      2. Expresses the sense of Congress that Members of Congress and Senators live by the laws that they enact.
    • I am also a co-sponsor of the STOCK Act, H.R. 1148. (Walz, D-MN).

Bryan Eagle: Reconnecting Congress with us
by Rep. Bill Flores
January 15, 2012
"When I ran for Congress, I became aware of the frustration of many Americans who believe their elected representatives have become a ruling class of elites who do not feel the personal impact of the legislation they pass. That is why I launched the Reconnecting Congress with America Initiative."
To read the full article, click here.

Waco Tribune-Herald: Waco Rep. Bill Flores takes a stab at congressional reform
by Bill Whitaker
December 11, 2011
"For those who really hate Congress, its gridlock, its grandstanding and especially its many perks, Congressman Bill Flores’ 'Reconnecting Congress with America' legislation must seem like a long-awaited Christmas present."
To read the full article, click here.  

The Hill: Hill Poll: Voters want to cut lawmaker pay and make them work longer
by Elise Viebeck
December 5, 2011
"More than two-thirds of likely voters think members of Congress should work more for less pay. A large percentage of voters say lawmakers should have their salaries cut and their pensions eliminated, and they should also work longer, according to a new poll commissioned by The Hill."
To read the full article, click here.

CBS News: Congress: Trading stock on insider information?
November 13, 2011
Steve Kroft reports that Members of Congress can legally trade stock based on non-public information from Capitol Hill.