The theft of intellectual property costs Americans billions of dollars and thousands of jobs. When inventors and businesses invest in research and development that result in patents, they have the right to benefit from their efforts. The American economy also benefits by the jobs these patents create.
We need to improve our patent system to better protect intellectual property and help ensure that good patents are approved more quickly. There is bipartisan support for much-needed revisions to our patent system, which has not been significantly updated in more than half a century.
Congress can help millions of Americans who are struggling to afford health care by enacting lawsuit-abuse reform. We should consider ways to limit frivolous lawsuits that drive up health care costs. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, 40 percent of medical malpractice suits filed in the U.S. are “without merit.”
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that lawsuit-abuse reform would save federal taxpayers $54 billion over the next decade. This would help American families struggling with health care costs and protect medical personnel who are overburdened by the cost of malpractice insurance.
Finally, we need to renew our focus on protecting America’s children from sexual exploitation and child pornography. The Internet continues to be a playground for sex predators and pedophiles. Since the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children created the CyberTipline 12 years ago, electronic service providers have reported almost 8 million images and videos of sexually exploited children.
Many children are under assault by sex predators on the Internet. One in three children receives unsolicited sexual content online and one in seven is solicited for sex online. We need stronger data retention laws to help investigators track down predators who create and distribute child pornography.
In addition to our policy initiatives to restore national security and create jobs, the House Judiciary Committee is also committed to fair and reasonable oversight of the Department of Justice.
Oversight is not a game of cat and mouse between Congress and the White House. It is the legitimate and necessary work of Congress to improve the operation and function of the executive branch and ensure that federal agencies are responsive to the interests of the American people. We should make sure that our laws are equally enforced, criminals are prosecuted and American communities are kept safe.
Congress will have its hands full. But for democracy to work, it must be a government by the people and for the people. Republicans plan to respond to the demands of the voters for a more restrained and accountable government.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.