Congressman John Curtis won’t be found often – if ever – on Fox News. He’s moderately conservative, but is no partisan firebrand. He’s one of the good guys in Congress. He tries to solve problems, not posture for the media.
He co-sponsors a lot of legislation with Democrats, although they aren’t usually major bills. He’s well liked on both sides of the aisle. He works hard and travels his district, meeting with local officials and constituents.
And he appears to genuinely enjoy his job, even though it has plenty of frustrations. Some people have a hard time with the congressional lifestyle, but Curtis said it works for him and his wife, Sue. They are empty nesters, and their children and grandchildren are somewhat scattered. So frequent of travel isn’t a problem, and sometimes side trips can be taken to visit family.
In an interview, Curtis said a source of real frustration is the federal debt ballooning out of control, threatening the future of the country. It’s a bipartisan failure, with neither party willing to try to control federal spending. He doesn’t see any progress on that front unless the broken budget progress can be fixed.
The federal government should implement baseline budgeting, where every expenditure can be scrutinized, Curtis said. But when Congress can’t even pass budgets, and government operates on continuing resolutions, there’s no real opportunity to reduce unwise spending.
“Some of us are committed to holding the line,” Curtis said. But with the dysfunctional budget process, committees aren’t doing their jobs. “A few people go behind closed doors and negotiate on budgets, and then we just get an up or down vote on the floor. Our budget process is a joke.”
A solution to some of the federal dysfunction is to stop centralizing so much spending and governance at the federal level, Curtis said. “Many things are better decided and managed at the state and local levels. There’s also much more accountability at local levels.” Unfortunately, he sees little interest in balanced federalism among most members of Congress.
Curtis will keep looking for solutions. And he hopes to build enough credibility and relationships in both parties to eventually make some real progress.