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It’s time to move forward

We appreciate the courtesy of Congressman Michael Burgess, R-Lewisville, who took time out this week to visit with us about Wednesday’s closed-door session between members of the Texas congressional delegation and President Obama on the budget, immigration and gun control.

Our conversation brought few surprises — Burgess said the president was not as concerned about the deficit as members of the Texas delegation were — but Burgess said in spite of philosophical battles, Congress is getting its work done.

The sequester — the current arrangement that has made automatic, across-the-board cuts in federal spending — was a compromise between the White House and Congress to start to get a handle on the deficit, Burgess said.

Some skeptics predicted Congress wouldn’t be able to reauthorize the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by September of last year, the first time the FDA’s reauthorization came up in a presidential election year. But Congress worked for a year — which included hearings in Burgess’ committee, the House Energy and Commerce Committee — and got the agency reauthorized in July, he said.

Congress also reauthorized the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act, which the president signed last week.

We can understand the Congressman’s sense of accomplishment — especially considering some of the stalemates that have plagued Washington in recent years — but at this stage of the game, we would like to see more meaningful progress on several fronts. As Burgess told us, the debate over philosophical differences may always be there, but we can’t understand why it remains such a stumbling block.

The stubborn resistance of all members of Congress — Republicans and Democrats — to put aside their so-called “philosophical differences” and get to work on the challenges facing our nation continues to frustrate us.

We have grown weary of news conferences, position statements and sound bites that place total blame for all problems in someone else’s camp. We are continually baffled by elected officials who make a lot of noise and solve few problems.

We share the concerns expressed by Burgess and other members of the Texas delegation — the uncertain economy and our nation’s budget woes concern us all — but we also understand the value of compromise, and we’re beginning to wonder if anyone in elected office remembers what the word means.

The Texas delegation’s latest meeting with President Obama was one of only a handful of such sessions since Obama was first elected, said Burgess, contrasting that with the frequent meetings the Texas delegation had with President George W. Bush.

It’s easy to see why any member of the Texas delegation would be nostalgic for those times, but living in the past won’t change the present or help us deal with the future.

We’re tired of being on high center, and it’s time to move forward — together.