BALTIMORE-- "We must marry fiscal and moral renewal in our agenda. We are composed of men and women who are committed to principle -- this is not just a time for challenge, it's a time for opportunity."
So was the clarion call for an end to "business as usual" in Washington from one within the system. Congressman Mike Pence this morning addressed his colleagues in his position as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, which is composed of 110 of the most conservative members of Congress. Over 60 conservative House members are gathered on a two-day retreat today and tomorrow on the eve of three seminal events which are happening this week -- any one of which could bring about the much-needed halt to liberalism, secularism and plain ole irresponsibility by the largest government institutions that run our lives. These key events are:
- The vote to confirm Samuel Alito as the newest Supreme Court Justice.
- The election of a new Majority Leader in Congress to replace the embattled Tom DeLay, who stepped down from the position amidst a plethora of legal challenges and ethical allegations.
- The president's State of the Union address Tuesday evening.
These conservative House members play no role in the Supreme Court confirmation process, but have been working diligently to correct the numerous ills which have befallen the nation due to absurd Supreme Court rulings as well as to influence those moral issues which will undoubtedly arise in arguments the Court will hear in the coming years. Chief among these are efforts to roll back a culture of death and protect the unborn where legislatively possible and enshrine in our Constitution the time-honored definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
Of course, foremost among the concerns of all who follow Washington is the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, which has rocked the Hill and the public's confidence in its elected officials. But there's much more at stake here than kicking out the "pay for play" problems and perceptions that have prompted the well-known caricature of politicians as devoid of any ethical moorings.
Sterile policy "reforms" absent reforms of the heart and soul won't do. What's necessary, Pence noted, is for the conservative House members and the RSC to lead on key issues and ethical practices. We're looking at a tough year ahead and challenging times, he said, but if we reform government from the inside-out, we have the powerful opportunity to restore the vision of our Founding Fathers.
It was heartening as well to hear from Congressman Joe Pitts, chairman of the Values Action Team in the House of Representatives. Congressman Pitts highlighted several victories of 2005, including a bill authorizing federal funding for the collection and storage of umbilical cord blood, Terri's Law and increased funds for abstinence education.
Pitts also identified several priorities for 2006. The top one -- not surprisingly, given that it underpins our very society -- is marriage. VAT will also push for the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act (promoting the humanity of the unborn child), legislation that would prohibit human cloning and the "Morning After" Pill, as well as several bills that would promote religious Liberties.
The message here, folks, is that there is hope. There is reason to be optimistic. There is reason to roll up your sleeves and fight like never before to help create the America of your dreams. The wise and brave conservative members, and others of both parties elsewhere in government, are ready to lead us to victory. They are committed, as Congressman Pence said, to:
"Harness this moment to steer ourselves back to dance with what brung us -- traditional moral values without apology, fiscal restraint, limiting government, the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage. It is not enough for us to change how lobbyists spend their money, we have to change the way we spend the people's money. It's not enough to do lobbying reform, we have to do budget reform. We must marry fiscal and moral renewal in our agenda, and leverage one with the other."
Pence reminded his listeners of the importance of teamwork when he referenced Proverbs 24:6: "For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counselors there is safety."
The American people are hungry for integrity, for truth, and for heroes they can follow. Yes, these principled members of government face many changes, but so did our Founding Fathers. May this second Revolution be one of restoring moral order in government.
Rebecca Hagelin is a vice president of The Heritage Foundation and the author of Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture that's Gone Stark Raving Mad.